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Epilogue.2: Transgender Equal Rights

  • Page ID
    68349
  • In 2015, The Obama administration, supported by a pentagon-commission study, lifted a ban on transgender people from serving in the armed forces. In 2017, President Trump issued a series of tweets to reinstate that ban, but lawsuits brought against the administration denied the re-implementation of the ban and allowed transgender people to enlist. However, by 2019, the Department of Defense had implemented policies to effectively restrict transgender service members from enlisting or serving in the military.

    From 2015 to 2017, multiple states introduced bills to restrict male or female bathroom choice to the sex identified on a person’s birth certificates. In 2016, North Carolina became the first state to pass such a bill, although the next year, the state repealed the portion of the bill relating to choice of bathrooms. As multiple states continued to debate bathroom bills in 2017, the Justice Department and Education department rescinded Department of Education and Justice Department guidances that transgender students were protected by Title IX, a statue that protects against sex discrimination.

    Following a trend in court cases protecting transgender employees against discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in Macy v. Holder that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protected transgender employees from discrimination. The Department of Justice followed suit in 2014, supporting Title VII in application to gender identity discrimination claims. However, in 2017, the Department of Justice reversed their stance on Title VII and gender identity protection. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Department of Justice filed briefs to the United States Supreme Court that federal law does not prohibit discrimination against transgender people. Federal departments such as the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education have each done away with protections for transgender people.

    In 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ employees against discrimination. The court decided that the Title VII prohibition against discrimination based on sex included discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and that henceforth it would be illegal to fire someone on that basis. At the time of the decision, the majority of states had no law prohibiting the firing of a LGBTQ
    employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    As of 2018, 28 states and the District of Columbia had enacted protections for transgender people. By 2017, 111 cities offered employee healthcare plans that explicitly covered transgender-related health-care services. In a rare setback in 2015, Houston voters repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which protected LGBTQ people from discrimination, in part because it included protections for transgender people to choose the bathroom of their choice. Nonetheless by the end of 2016, over 225 cities and counties had enacted laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

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    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Protest against the proposed transgender military ban, 2017
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