DAVID GURA (HOST): Help us understand why this is of such keen interest to you and what’s going to be happening down in Washington on Tuesday.
LAVERNE COX (ACTOR): Well, I believe this is probably the most significant case for LGBTQ rights that the Supreme Court will hear in my lifetime, probably even more important than Obergefell because it has implications not just for LGBTQ people in the workplace, but for everyone in the workplace. And it has -- it can have significance in health care, in housing. A year ago, The New York Times wrote a story that basically said this administration wants to define transgender folks out of existence. And there was a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services that said we want to define gender and sex as a very specific thing that basically takes transgender people out of legal protections. The first thing that this administration did in 2017 when they came into office was rescind rights for transgender kids in schools, the trans military ban. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services said they wanted to discriminate against trans people in health care. HUD wants to discriminate against us in homeless shelters. And this Supreme Court case is another example of this administration targeting trans folks. And so -- and not just trans people; LGBTQ people in general. And so the stigma -- how deeply we are stigmatized and dehumanized leads to this epidemic of murders against us and leads to us not being able to get jobs. Our unemployment rate is three times the national average, four times that for trans people of color. When we can't get jobs, we're pushed out of the work force and forced into situations that expose us to more violence.
GURA: Chase, pick up on that, how pivotal this is going to be and what it says about labor in this country today. Antonin Scalia’s son just sworn in as the next head of the Labor Department, what is this going to mean for workplace dynamics, the outcome of these cases that are being argued this week?
CHASE STRANGIO (ACLU LGBT AND HIV PROJECT, STAFF ATTORNEY): Yeah, I mean, I think what I really want people to understand is this absolutely has a transformative effect on the American workplace and on civil rights laws as a general matter --
GURA: Across the board.
STRANGIO: Across the board. So we really have to see this as part of a long-term strategy to chip away at civil rights protections for everyone. And when the court hears arguments on Tuesday, the Trump administration and the employers are going to be making two central arguments. One is that LGBTQ people aren't covered. That it's not sex discrimination to fire us for who we are. And if I could just take a second to explain why it is --
GURA: Please, yeah.
STRANGIO: -- so clearly sex discrimination. I would like to do that, which is, let's say you fire me because I'm transgender. So you fired me for one of two reasons. Maybe you fired me because you see me as a man but I'm not the right kind of man. You're like, "Oh, you're a little bit effeminate, or you were assigned female at birth and that's just not what we think a man is." That is sex discrimination. Alternatively, maybe you fired me because just for the simple fact that I was assigned female at birth. That is also sex discrimination. And it’s so plainly sex discrimination that the only way that the Trump administration and the employers can urge the court to rule against us is to roll back sex discrimination protections for everyone -- and so what they want is a rule where it is lawful to enforce sex stereotypes in the workplace as to everyone, which has been the very way that we have transformed the American workplace away from the Mad Men dynamics, away from pushing women -- all women -- out of the workplace. So the stakes could not be higher.