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16 states urge Supreme Court to fire trans workers

by Joseph Massaro - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Sep 4th 2018 10:00 pm

If you thought the United States couldn’t get any worse, on Aug. 24, 16 states filed a written statement calling for the Supreme Court to make it lawful to fire people for being transgender. 

The brief, which was signed by 16 states, asks the Court to hear and reverse R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a case decided last March by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling 3 - 0 in favor of Aimee Stephens. Stephens is a transgender woman who was fired by her Christian boss, at a Detroit funeral home in the summer of 2013, in which she worked for nearly six years as a funeral director. Stephens’ firing occured after after transitioning from a man to a woman. The Sixth Circuit found that Stephens’ firing violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protecting the basis of sex and an employer’s religious beliefs cannot be used to justify discrimination and prejudice. 

Instead of expressing sympathy or support for Stephens, some religious-based groups and 16 states are questioning whether the laws protecting people 5from discrimination on the basis of “sex,” includes gender identity in the definition. 

This is ridiculous because a personal sense of one’s own gender has always been around, just not as encouraged or accepted. Clearly, it seems a person cannot have free will of their own gender due to people’s imposing viewpoints on something they will never understand or try to. 

In a “friend of the court brief” David Bydalek, Chief Deputy Nebraska Attorney General, said the Sixth Circuit Court’s decision in the case rephrases Title VII’s main intention. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, and religion. Bydalek and the other opposing 15 states including: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, and joined by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Maine Gov. Paul Lepage, and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who all happen to be Republican, are all looking to appeal and urge the court to fix its “egregious error and restore the balance of power in our federal system.” The brief also states, “The role of the courts is to interpret the law, not to rewrite the law by adding a new, unintended meaning.” 

The 16 states’ brief argues that “‘sex’ refers to one’s biological status as male or female, not to a changeable psychological view of one’s gender.” However, these officials are using dictionary citations as their defense, for words such as “sex” and “reproductive organs.” This isn’t a game of Scrabble, these are human beings. Basically the GOP officials’ motive, implies there is no such thing as transgender people. It is clearly dishonest and does nothing but alienates people who are transgender. 

This is not the United States. This is a childish act that is an attack on basic human rights. As these Republicans try to implement their traditional political agendas, we are being distracted by the real issues we face, such as family separation at the border, gun control, and helping children suffering from hunger in Yemen. 

Alex H., a Brockport student, said, “There needs to be more gender identity protections in all 50 states. You don’t have to agree with people being transgender to recognize their humanity.”

Currently, the U.S. capital and 20 states, including Maine and Utah, righteously have in place laws clearly prohibiting and banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT research team. 

Nonetheless, there are still 26 states that believe there is no explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The Supreme Court is likely to decide in the coming months, whether to take on a case whether Title VII’s sex discrimination protections stretches towards LGBT employees. Issues like this have already been brought up again for appeals, with most ruling in favor of LGBT employees. However, this has divided our government agencies, such as the Department of Justice and the EEOC. Welcome to transphobic America.


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