On Thursday, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new interpretation of the Civil Rights Act meant to prevent employers from discriminating against people who claim the status of a transgendered person.
Holder announced in a memo that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to the transgendered.
“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,” Holder said in the announcement. “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.”
The new interpretation of the law is aimed at giving the DOJ greater freedom in prosecuting people, businesses, and even government entities accused of discrimination.
While Holder’s memo clarified the DOJ’s position, most courts had already arrived at a similar interpretation in recent litigation.
The move was met with some criticism. After the announcement, Peter Sprigg, senior director for policy studies of the Family Research Council, criticized Holder, saying that the original intent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act most certainly did not cover transgendered people.
“Probably not one person thought they were passing a bill to protect men who wanted to become women or women who wanted to become men,” Sprigg said.
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