Despite being publicly (and repeatedly) criticized by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has remained steadfast in his mission to remake U.S. domestic policy and undo as much of the work of Barack Obama as possible. In his latest act, Sessions reversed a federal policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.
In a memo, Sessions says the DOJ will take the position that the Civil Rights Act holds protections for discrimination between men and women but not discrimination based on gender identity. All pending and future matters, including court cases, will be undertaken accordingly. Sessions argued that this is a question of law and not policy. However, former DOJ Civil Rights Division lawyer Sharon McGowan disagrees, and she told Buzzfeed that Sessions is disregarding a trend now occurring in federal courts:
“It’s ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy. The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.
“The sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasnt’ happened. The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
The memo is the latest setback for LGBT rights by the Trump administration and the GOP at large. Over the summer, the president signed an executive order for banning transgender people from serving in the military. Meanwhile, the number of bills introduced by state legislatures to limit LGBT rights has steadily risen since 2013.