Texas Attacks Trans Rights: Texas sues Biden administration to block Trans rights

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Photo by Eric Gay / AP
Photo by Eric Gay / AP

The State of Texas is suing the Biden administration to block enforcement of federal guidelines that protect Transgender workers.

In a lawsuit filed September 20, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in outlining protections for Trans workers.

The EEOC guidance, released June 15, says that employers must not prohibit Transgender employees from dressing in correspondence with their gender identity or using bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers that are consistent with their gender identity.

In a statement, Paxton called the guidance "illegal" and an "unacceptable" attempt "to force businesses, including the State of Texas, to align with their beliefs."

"If the Biden administration thinks they can force states to comply with their political agenda, my office will fight against their radical attempt at social change," Paxton said.

Paxton also charges that the EEOC violated the First and Eleventh Amendments, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act, which specifies how government agencies issue regulations.

Defendants in the lawsuit include the EEOC, commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows, and US Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The EEOC declined to comment on pending litigation but said it will be represented by the Department of Justice, which also declined to comment.

The EEOC guidelines were issued in June last year, following the US Supreme Court's landmark decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County. In that case, the high court ruled that Title VII's prohibition on discrimination based on "sex" covered sexual orientation and gender identity as well as biological sex.

In a statement released with the new guidelines, the EEOC said the new rules "will make it easier for people to understand their rights and responsibilities related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity."

"All people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserve an opportunity to work in an environment free from harassment or other discrimination," Burrows said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County is a historic milestone that resulted from the struggle, sacrifice, and vision of many brave LGBTQ+ individuals and allies who had championed civil rights for the LGBTQ+ communities."

Transgender Texans have long been a target of Republican state officials. In 2017, the state legislature attempted to pass Senate Bill 6, a "bathroom bill," that would have required Transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings, and public universities based on their gender assigned at birth. However, the bill failed to pass even during a subsequent special session.

During this year's regular legislative session, lawmakers introduced several bills targeting Transgender Texans, including legislation that would restrict Transgender student athletes' participation in school sports and prohibit doctors from offering gender-affirming medical care. But neither of those measures made it to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

In all three special sessions he's called since May, Abbott has made limiting Transgender student athletes' sports participation a priority. No such measure passed during the first two special sessions. This year's third special session started September 20.