EEOC Inclusion of Transgender Employees Under Civil Rights Act Takes Effect Today

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that employees discriminated against because they are transgender are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and today that ruling goes into effect. This historic decision by EEOC came after the Transgender Law Center (TLC) brought forth a discrimination complaint from Mia Macy, a transgender woman who claims she was denied a position at the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after it became known that she was transitioning. The ATF subsequently hired another person for the job. Because the EEOC is responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment ant-discrimination laws, this ruling could have important legal implications for future discrimination claims brought by transgender employees.

In a statement, TLC’s Executive Director Masen Davis commented on the implementation of the ruling, saying, “This is a historic day for human rights in the United States…starting today transgender and gender non-conforming people now have legal recourse if they face discrimination on the job. We no longer have to be silent when we are fired or not hired simply for being who we are.” Ilona Turner, Legal Director of TLC, added, "It's incredibly significant that the Commission has finally put its stamp of approval on the common-sense understanding that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination. That's true whether it's understood as discrimination because of the person's gender identity, or because they have changed their sex, or because they don't conform to other people's stereotypes of how men and women ought to be."

As the mistreatment and discrimination that transgender people face in their everyday lives is acknowledged, it is more important than ever that the media report on the critical work being done – and the decisions that result from it – that makes the world a more inclusive and accepting place. Americans need to hear about decisions at the government level asserting that transgender people need the same protections as everyone else. GLAAD urges the media to cover this and other stories that commend the efforts of advocacy toward making transgender equality a reality.