Turns out a June 2014 issue of Time that declared society had reached a “transgender tipping point” may actually be true.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo this week to Department of Justice attorneys informing that discrimination against transgender people is now encompassed under the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Holder wrote.
“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” said Holder. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”
A significant announcement, considering there is currently no federal law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
“This is a huge step forward for transgender litigants,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Fusion in email.
“This is an issue that is currently being litigated in courts across the country, and while many courts and scholars already agree with this view, having the Department of Justice’s support lends it even more credibility and strength,” said Minter, who noted he applauded Holder’s decision.
The memo clarifies the Civil Rights Division’s ability to file Title VII claims against state and local public employers on behalf of transgender individuals. The Department of Justice does not have authority to file suit against private employers.
The good news may be bittersweet, however, as violence against transgender individuals escalated in 2014, according to the Trans Violence tracking portal. The number of reported hate crimes against transgender people in Los Angeles. jumped by nearly 46 percent last year, according to the hate-crime statistics released in October by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.