The Trump administration has quietly gutted transgender rights guidance for federal employees, telling agencies to treat people based on “biological sex.”
The previous guidance, drawn up under President Barack Obama, instructed federal agencies to “review their anti-discrimination policies to ensure that they afford a non-discriminatory working environment to employees irrespective of their gender identity or perceived gender non-conformity.”A revision apparently made in the last week removed all mention of the words “transgender” and “gender non-conforming” while inserting language to effectively reverse several of the inclusive policies.
The new guidance states that employees in gender-specific roles should be treated “in accordance with the individual’s biological sex,” where the previous materials said they should be treated as their preferred gender.
Guidance that directed employers to move away from “gender-specific dress and appearance rules” have also been changed to now state that agencies are “encouraged” to enact “policies [that] require employees to follow dress and appearance rules consistent with the professional standards of their occupation.”
The webpage also erases sections on the “core concepts” of gender identity and gender non-conforming identities.
The OPM webpage now states that agencies should update their diversity and inclusion policies “with the plain meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The reference to the “plain meaning” of the Civil Rights Act contradicts the widely-held Obama administration stance that civil rights laws banning discrimination based on sex also outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Trump administration has previously argued in court that the section should only be applied to direct gender discrimination.
The changes appear to substantiate reports of a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) setting out a new anti-transgender stance across the administration.
According to a New York Times report on October 21, the leaked memo lays out plans to define a person’s sex as either male or female as identified by “immutable biological traits” at birth, barring recognition of transgender people.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on October 22, he confirmed: “We’re looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now.
“They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do and we’re looking at it very seriously.”
Asked if he would protect the LGBT+ community, he responded: “I’m protecting everybody.”
When a reporter told the leader that “transgender Americans say you’ve given up on them,” Trump replied: “You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.”