Conservative Judge: Texas Can Discriminate Against Trans Employees
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — October 7, 2022 — Washington, DC
A conservative judge has ruled that companies in Texas are free to ignore trans pronouns, require gender-specific dress and bar employees from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. The decision rejects Employment Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance that declared such actions discriminatory, following a Supreme Court that extended civil rights protections — including employment discrimination — to LGBTQ+ workers.
In other words, while you may have to hire them, you don’t have to provide trans and gender non-conforming employees any respect at all. In fact, you can make their lives hell.
The judge, who has previously been open in his contempt for same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ protections, said that issues such as dress, bathrooms and pronouns are “conduct” not “identity,” and thus not covered by the Supreme Court decision.
We’ve been here before, of course. For years, we were told that LGBTQ+ people were fine, so long as they kept their actions private: “Why do you have to flaunt it?” “Why can’t you act straight?” We are still told that Pride parades are an affront to passers-by, that discussing LGBTQ+ existence violates religious freedom, and that being trans in public is tantamount to “grooming.”
How long must we continue to argue that we are more than our genitals or what we do in the bedroom? Confronted with loss in public opinion, social conservatives continue to gerrymander arguments and find ways to discriminate against us, to negate our existence, to disrespect us in hopes that some elements of bigotry will find narrow carve outs in the law.
Sexual rights are more than the right to practice our sexuality. It’s the right to live openly with dignity, bodily autonomy and self-determination. These are — or should be — conservative values as well as progressive ones. We should all fight attempts by the majority to censor the minority, and vice versa.
The judge’s ruling puts trans and gender non-conforming employees back in the closet. Should it stand, we can expect to see a quick expansion of our identities — hair, clothes, body language, speech patterns — relabeled as “conduct” and policed.
Whether cis or trans, straight or LGBTQ, we should all fear greater policing of our sexuality or gender expression. We look forward to a challenge to this noxious ruling.