Courts & Crime

Anti-discrimination protections extended to gender identity

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday extended anti-discrimination protections to cover gender identity.

Reversing a Justice Department position adopted during the George W. Bush administration, Holder directed his department to recognize that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers actions based on gender identity, including transgender discrimination.

“This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants,” Holder declared. “And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

In his two-page memo, Holder noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission previously ruled in April 2012 that discrimination based on gender identity is the equivalent of discrimination based on sex. The EEOC case involved a Mia Macy, a former Phoenix police detective who was born as a man.

Macy applied for a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms job in California, but was turned down after she advised officials she was transitioning to a female. In another case cited by Holder, the Justice Department had argued that Title VII did not cover a former Special Forces officer, now known as Diane Schroer, who was denied a Congressional Research Service job when she revealed she was transitioning from male to female.

Schroer won the case.

“In refusing to hire Diane Schroer because her appearance and background did not comport with the decisionmaker’s sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer’s decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to

female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination,” U.S. District Judge James Robertson wrote.

The Justice Department’s announcement Thursday effectively adopts Robertson’s reasoning, nationwide.