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A Government Divided on the Issue of Gender Identity

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit on half of a transgender woman who was “assigned male at birth.” The woman was fired by her employer after she notified them that she intended to have sex reassignment surgery and would not comply with the male dress code. In March 2018, the Sixth Circuit ruled that discriminating against employees both because of a failure to conform to sex stereotypes, and because of transgender and transitioning status violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.
The employer appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department of Justice is generally the agency tasked with representing the federal government before the Supreme Court. However, the Trump Administration has decided that Title VII protections do not extend to individuals who are discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is thus arguing that the Sixth Circuit “misread” the statute.
An independent federal agency, the EEOC still plans on pursuing the case until it is forced to step aside. Its website still states that “discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status, or because of sexual orientation is discrimination because of sex in violation of Title VII.” It has won several cases on this issue. The Supreme Court has two other petitions on this issue before it and the DOJ is urging a decision on those other matters first.