The Prowler

Sessions Denies Trans Rights under the Civil Rights Act

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Glenn Fawcett/civilian

Glenn Fawcett/civilian

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Noam Haykeen, Prowler Columnist

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During 1940, being Jewish in Romania was strenuous for my great grandfather, Eliezer. Employers were not only permitted, but also encouraged, to fire their Jewish workers. In November of that year, my great grandfather was stripped of his occupation.

The days passed, and my great grandfather did not know what to do. Because of his faith, he was not able to obtain another job. He was barely able to afford food and, tragically, his landlord kicked him out.

He was hopeless. He suffered. He was alone.

Somehow, being Jewish made him less than others. His innate identity made him fail professionally. It allowed employers to discriminate against him.

Sickeningly, on Oct. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that expanded protections given by the 1964 Civil Rights Act to transgender workers. In a two page memo, Sessions wrote that the Act does not prohibit “discrimination based on gender identity.”

In other words, he allowed employers to treat transgender individuals differently. He authorized discrimination against trans people in the workplace.

Sessions is explicitly and directly targeting the well-being of transgenders. He is encouraging the discrimination of innocent Americans. To put it simply: he is throwing a sector of our population down a ditch. His deep-rooted, narrow-minded mentality will soon affect the lives of Americans who are coming to terms with themselves.

My great grandfather Eliezer was treated differently for something he was unable to control. He was born into his religion. He should not have been punished for taking part in the Jewish faith. Likewise, there is research (such as this study in Functional Neurology) that proves trans people do not choose to identify with the opposite gender. Their identity is determined in the womb.

It is inhumane to disadvantage transgenders. Our government should shield them from hatred. The individuals who go into transition are brave. They are courageous. They comprehend that many dislike their actions. They understand that many will try to threaten them. But they block those voices and follow their identity. Their bravery should be celebrated, not ridiculed.

There is one word to describe Session’s action: cruel. He is ignorant. He is unwilling to educate himself on this subject. His anti-transgender attitude should be non existent in a country that values the “pursuit of happiness” and “justice for all.”

Furthermore, Session’s decision will hurt our country economically. According to the Center for American Progress, diversifying the workplace increases businesses’ market share. The U.S. will become more competitive globally by capitalizing on diverse talents and contributions.

Dr. Lise Spiegel, a psychologist in Los Angeles, expressed that “it is demoralizing for anyone who identifies as trans or is considering transitioning to be denied the basic civil rights that others enjoy.”

“Psychologically, no one likes to be treated like the ‘other.’ We know that suicide attempts are higher in the LGBTQ community, and [Session’s actions] will certainly not help that statistic. Being marginalized and excluded causes people to feel alone, hopeless and helpless.”

During the 20th Century, America granted opportunities to more individuals — from the suffrage movement of the 1920s, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. And to culminate this progress, the first African-American president was elected in 2008. But now, the current administration is narrowing the types of people who receive certain rights. It is taking us back in time.

There are currently about 1.4 million people in America who are transgender, according to the New York Times. Giving employers the opportunity to marginalize them for the sole purpose of who they are is brutal.

The U.S. government should encourage people to follow their identity, not the contrary.

Since our country draws its strength from diversity — whether it is based on religion, race or sexual orientation — Congressional Democrats must protest Session’s decision. They must speak about this on the House and Senate floor. They need to demand the passage of new legislation that will reverse Session’s cold-blooded move on transgender workers.

My great grandfather was barbarically discriminated against for a factor that was out of his control. But something of that sort cannot happen again.

Transgenders are Americans. Just like everyone else in this country: they, too, deserve equal rights in the workplace.


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Sessions Denies Trans Rights under the Civil Rights Act