Obama to expand safeguards for transgender workers

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm •  Published: June 30, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is preparing an executive order offering transgender federal workers formal protection from discrimination at work, President Barack Obama announced Monday.

At least two other measures already prevent the federal government from firing people for being transgender, so Obama's announcement is largely symbolic. Still, advocates hailed the move as a powerful act of recognition for transgender Americans by the first American president to even utter the word "transgender" in a speech.

"The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it's the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won't act, I will," Obama told a supportive crowd in the East Room of the White House during a reception marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights group, praised Obama's announcement as a "crucial and historic measure."

"Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are — like their gender identity," said HRC President Chad Griffin.

Obama in 2009 signed a presidential memorandum saying the federal government shouldn't discriminate against workers for reasons unrelated to their job performance. While it didn't refer to transgender people specifically, the memo was perceived as offering blanket protection to workers whose gender identity doesn't correspond with their gender at birth.

And in a major ruling last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal law enforcement agency, said that the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars discrimination based on gender also applies to gender identity.

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