I have talked a lot about the importance of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the LGBTQ* community. LGB individuals can still be fired legally in 29 states while trans* people can be fired legally in 34. Over half of the states in the US have no protections for their LGBTQ* workers (more information about ENDA here). Those protections are the very basis of what is needed for us to reach equality. There was a recent step in the right direction, though, with a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC recently announced Title VII—the federal law protecting against sex discrimination—protects trans* workers, stating, “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII” (“Ruling Protecting…”). Sex and gender are often used interchangeably, although we do now define them differently. Within the context of the law, allowing this interchange creates a loophole which allows for the federal protection of trans* workers, which is a great victory, to know trans* workers have that protection and recourse for any discrimination.
Having the security of a job is something to which everyone should have the right. It is important to remember the EEOC is only a division of the federal government which decides how the law should be interpreted. This interpretation, though, only goes as far as it is challenged, so ENDA is still needed to protect all employees explicitly through the law. The EEOC decision is still a great step and something to celebrate.