Former DOJ Official On MSNBC: “Transgender People Are Protected Against Discrimination ... The Law Is Pretty Clear”

Julie Fernandes: “The Fourth Circuit, The EEOC, The Justice Department All Agree That Transgender People Are Protected Against Discrimination In Employment” And Education

From the May 9 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:

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CHRIS HAYES (HOST): Attorney General [Loretta Lynch] did something I have never ever seen any other high-level federal official do in my lifetime. She made a full-throated defense of the rights and equality of transgender citizens.


LORETTA LYNCH: What we must not do, what we must never do, is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans for something that they cannot control and deny what makes them human. And this is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something or someone that they are not. But no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today, know this, that the Department of Justice and indeed the entire Obama administration want you to know that we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.



HAYES: This felt historic to me. Am I wrong? Has anyone ever made that kind of full-throated argument at that level of federal government?

CHASE STRANGIO: I totally agree, Chris. This was a really big deal. And just last year, we thought it was a big deal that President Obama said the word “transgender.” And here we are today with this very powerful, very affirming defense of transgender people in a moment when transgender people are literally under attack. And it was moving, and it was critically important and came at the exact right time.

HAYES: Julie, you worked at the Department of Justice helping to enforce civil rights law. The argument here is whether the Civil Rights Act -- and specifically Title VII and some Title IX, which has to do with education -- permits the kind of law that North Carolina has passed. What do we know about what courts have said about this kind of thing?

JULIE FERNANDES: Well I do think at this point, Chris, it's pretty clear certainly in the Fourth Circuit, the EEOC, the Justice Department all agree that transgender people are protected against discrimination in employment under Title VII and against educational discrimination in the schools, Title IX. For a long time, our laws have protected people in their gender identity and expression going back to the late '80s and earlyish Title VII cases. So I think the law is pretty clear, and the Justice Department is putting their muscle behind something, a really important principle.


Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals


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