Justice department: sex discrimination ban does not protect transgender people

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LGBTQ advocates on Thursday fiercely denounced a leaked directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that reversed a federal government policy protecting transgender workers from discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Sessions called the interpretation a "conclusion of law, not policy", and said the move should not be construed to condone mistreatment of transgender people.

Transgender Law Center, in a press release, said, "The Department of Justice memo on Title VII tries to undo established law protecting transgender employees simply by wishing it so".

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Sessions' latest directive rescinded Holder's memorandum. In a letter to all US attorneys and the heads of all federal agencies, Sessions said that while Title.

At issue is whether the 1964 law prohibits a narrow category of discrimination, against men and women who transgress against gender stereotypes, or a much broader category of discrimination, against people simply because they are transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

According to the document first obtained by Buzzfeed, Mr Sessions said, "Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status". Part of it focuses on sending certain gun crimes to federal court, where they carry longer sentences in far-away prisons. As it stands, Title VII addresses discrimination on the basis of sex.

"It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court".

In a statement Thursday, a Justice Department spokesperson said, "The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided".

"Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect", said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project.

"Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated [the] action", the statement continued.

"The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided", O'Malley said. In July, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals urging the court to rule that the law did not protect against sexual orientation-based job discrimination as written.

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