Underwood demands civil rights protections for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals
20 AGs urge Secretaries Azar and DeVos to abandon efforts to adopt a restrictive and discriminatory federal definition of “sex”
Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood—part of a coalition of 20 Attorneys General—urged the Trump administration to abandon efforts to adopt a definition of “sex” that would exclude transgender and gender nonconforming individuals from the protections of federal civil rights laws.
Last month, it was reported that key officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were considering adopting a definition of sex as an immutable, binary biological trait determined by or before birth—and that the Department was urging other agencies, including the Department of Education, to do the same. Such a restrictive definition would effectively exclude transgender and gender nonconforming individuals from the protections of critical federal civil rights laws, including Title IX and the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
“The Trump administration is attempting to write transgender Americans out of existence. This policy is deeply cruel and simply unacceptable – and my office will do everything in our power to protect the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Underwood.
In the letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Attorneys General agree that “despite clear evidence of the serious harms that discrimination continues to inflict on the transgender community, the Administration seems intent not only on rolling back existing federal civil rights protections for this vulnerable population, but also denying transgender people even basic recognition.”
The letter was signed by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
The New York Attorney General’s office has fought to protect transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers in a variety of ways, including by issuing guidance on school districts’ duties to protect students from discrimination and harassment, fighting the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, and more.