Media Advisory: US Department of Justice Reversal of Transgender Employee Protections

Media Advisory
October 5, 2017

Media Contact
Rachel Dowd,
Office: (310) 206-8982
Cell: (310) 855-2696

Los Angeles – Today, the U.S. Department of Justice reversed its position that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination across the nation, protects transgender workers and job applicants from discrimination based on their gender identity.

“The Department of Justice’s new position is contrary to a growing body of case law, including from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII,” said Adam P. Romero, the Williams Institute’s Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy.

To assist with reporting on this development, the Williams Institute is providing the following relevant facts:

  • According to a 2016 Williams Institute study, this reversal by the U.S. Department of Justice impacts an estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States that identify as transgender, of whom 70 percent are either currently employed or looking for work.
  • Transgender people face pervasive and persistent discrimination when seeking employment and in workplaces across the United States. For instance, in the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 27 percent of respondents who held or applied for a job in the past year reported being fired, denied a promotion, or not being hired for a job they applied for because of their gender identity or expression.
  • Related to experiences of stigma and employment discrimination, transgender people have reported high rates of unemployment and poverty. In the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the unemployment rate among respondents (15 percent) was three times higher than the unemployment rate in the U.S. population (5 percent), with Middle Eastern, American Indian, multiracial, Latino/a, and Black respondents experiencing higher rates of unemployment. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of respondents were living in poverty, compared to 14 percent in the U.S. population.

“This position not only threatens the economic security of transgender individuals but contravenes the position previously taken by numerous federal agencies based on careful analysis of the law,” said Williams Institute Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels.


The Williams Institute, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

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