On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a guidance protecting transgender employees of federal contractors from discrimination. The guidance, which was announced in a blog post, evolved from President Obama's amended Executive Order earlier this summer extending discrimination protections to LGBT federal employees .The Department of Labor's new guidance officially clarifies that the department's existing discrimination protections in place on the basis of sex also include discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The guidance comes two years after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made a ground breaking ruling in favor of Mia Macy, a transgender woman who filed a complaint in April of 2012 when she was denied employment with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) for transitioning. The ruling's reasoning that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity inspired the reasoning behind this new guidance. Rather than just acting as a strong precedent, however, the new guidance officially puts this protection on paper.
Macy's case in 2012, though, was doubtless an enormous influence on the new guidance. According to ThinkProgress, Macy has received several personal messages from people who have filed complaints and got to keep their job because of the precedent her case said. Regarding the new guidance, Macy said that "she received a call today congratulating her on the guidance and telling her, '21 percent of the American workforce are now protected and it’s because of you. You did that.' 'To actually hear it, to get that call,' she said, 'I was just blown away.'"
Macy expressed the magnitude of how important this discrimination protection is. ThinkProgress reported,
“Somebody’s not going to cut their wrist tonight. Someone’s going to be able to pay their rent. Someone’s got a job,” Macy explained. For trans people, having a job to support themselves “literally is life and death for us.”
Watch Macy talk about her experience with anti-trans employment discrimination below: