In the past few days, the political battle surrounding transgender Americans saw a substantial push and pull in either direction. The Department of Defense will move forward with the policy to ban transgender troops from transitioning or serving as their gender, the Associated Press reported yesterday, March 12.
The day after, March 13, democrats in Congress introduced a bill “to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of federal funds.”
The Pentagon’s policy, according to the AP, “falls short” of a complete ban on transgender people in the military. The new rules will go into effect on April 12. Any current transgender soldiers, or those enlisted before April 12, can continue to transition and serve as their gender. After April 12, “a service member can be discharged based on a diagnosis of gender dysphoria if he or she is ‘unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seeks transition to another gender.'”
The military just announced plans to implement Trump’s trans employment ban: https://t.co/LsEqBuDcDa
— TransgenderLawCenter (@TransLawCenter) March 13, 2019
The bill introduced in Congress is a reintroduction of the Equality Act, which has been floating around since the 1970s. Currently, there are no federal protections of orientation or gender identity in place. Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, prohibit discrimination based on orientation and gender identity, but 30 states do not. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections based on gender identity and orientation.
Nobody should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. The #EqualityAct is a step forward—protecting everyone from discrimination in housing, employment and in the public square. We hope Congress works together to make it the law of the land.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 13, 2019
Both the new military rules and the Equality Act are expected to face challenges in and out of government. As politicians pull towards an expansion or a contraction of civil rights, thousands of trans Americans are caught in the middle. And they’re pulling harder with each passing day.