Loretta Lynch Just Became the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Trans Rights

May 11, 2016

By Mark Joseph Stern

On paper, the current conflict between the U.S. Department of Justice and North Carolina can seem dry, academic even. North Carolina passed a law forbidding trans people from using certain bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The Department of Justice notified the state that its measure violates several federal civil rights laws; North Carolina threw a tantrum, filing a lawsuit against the agency. Then, on Monday, the DOJ struck back, filing suit against North Carolina for infringing on trans residents’ federal civil rights.

The DOJ’s suit is a wonderfully tough, clear-headed document that carefully explains why “sex discrimination”—which is barred in employment and education under federal civil rights law— encompasses gender identity discrimination. Sex, the suit notes, is an incredibly complex concept: “An individual’s ‘sex’ consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment,” including chromosomes, hormones, and gender identity. By distilling sex to the label a hospital put on one’s birth certificate—then restricting bathroom access based on that label—North Carolina “stigmatizes and singles out transgender employees, results in their isolation and exclusion, and perpetuates a sense that they are not worthy of equal treatment and respect.”

“Gender identity is innate,” the suit declares, “and external efforts to change a person’s gender identity can be harmful to a person’s health and well-being.” Then the lawsuit affirms a simple truth that North Carolina has spent months attempting to deny: “A transgender man’s sex is male and a transgender woman’s sex is female.”

That’s all strong and necessary stuff. But you can’t understand the full import of the DOJ’s actions until you watch Lynch’s astonishing speech announcing the lawsuit. Lynch is wry and unassuming in person; on Monday, she was as fierce and passionate as any member of the pantheon of American civil rights defenders. Lynch joined that pantheon on Monday. Her remarks are certainly the most important speech ever delivered on the topic of trans rights by any government official. They are a turning point in the history of LGBTQ rights in the United States, a resounding declaration of the equal dignity of trans Americans.

“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms,” Lynch explained. “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them—indeed, to protect all of us. And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country—haltingly but inexorably—in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.”


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11 comments on “Loretta Lynch Just Became the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Trans Rights

  • @OP – Sex, the suit notes, is an incredibly complex concept: “An individual’s ‘sex’ consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment,” including chromosomes, hormones, and gender identity.
    By distilling sex to the label a hospital put on one’s birth certificate—then restricting bathroom access based on that label—North Carolina “stigmatizes and singles out transgender employees,

    Quite! To anyone who has investigated the biology, rather than relying on the preconceptions of religious bigotry, this should be obvious!

    I commented to that effect in this earlier discussion.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/05/anti-trans-discrimination-is-sex-discrimination/#li-comment-203118



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  • there needs to be a Official Gender for each person and a legal requirement for it to be changed or there will issues lasting forever

    its not just toilets there is a very long list of things that are based on gender
    showers, steam rooms, hospital wards, domestic violence shelters. women’s sports, change rooms, locker rooms, showers, schools and so on



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  • Psychological and physiological differences, are not the same.

    http://www.isna.org/faq/transgender

    What’s the difference between being transgender or transsexual and having an intersex condition?

    People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” For example, a person who identifies as transgender or transsexual may have typical female anatomy but feel like a male and seek to become male by taking hormones or electing to have sex reassignment surgeries.

    People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people.

    Many people confuse transgender and transsexual people with people with intersex conditions because they see two groups of people who would like to choose their own gender identity and sometimes those choices require hormonal treatments and/or surgery. These are similarities. It’s also true, albeit rare, that some people who have intersex conditions also decide to change genders at some point in their life, so some people with intersex conditions might also identify themselves as transgender or transsexual.

    In spite of these similarities, these two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one. The truth is that the vast majority of people with intersex conditions identify as male or female rather than transgender or transsexual. Thus, where all people who identify as transgender or transsexual experience problems with their gender identity, only a small portion of intersex people experience these problems.

    It’s also important to understand the differences between these two groups because in spite of some similarities they face many different struggles, including different forms of discrimination. The differences between transgender and transsexual and intersex have been understood by lawmakers in countries such as Australia where lawmakers have publicly acknowledged that people with intersex conditions have distinct needs from people who identify as transgender or transsexual.



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  • It is amazing that trans rights are coming along so quickly. The people affected are less than 1% of the population. People, in general, are simply doing the right thing. It is not primarily because of pressure from the transgendered community.



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  • Roedy,

    Its almost like people are using their heads. Reason is being engaged!

    I think this is still the fruit of good work like your own all those decades ago. It will echo on and out for minorities as yet unnoticed…



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  • @OP – Loretta Lynch Just Became the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Trans Rights

    Perhaps some powerful advocates of LGBT rights should step in here, if the UN is not going to be a laughing stock (again)!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36325578

    A group of 51 Muslim countries has blocked LGBT rights organisations from attending a United Nations conference on Aids next month.

    Egypt, representing the Organization for Islamic Co-operation, wrote to the General Assembly president to object to the participation of 11 groups.

    US, EU, and Canadian officials have written to the president of the 193-member organisation in protest.

    Egypt’s representatives did not give a reason for requesting the ban.

    In a press release to announce the conference, UN officials “emphasised the need to reach the people most affected by HIV, who continue to be left behind in the Aids response including sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs”.

    The conference, which will take place in New York in early June, has the objective of ending the Aids epidemic by 2030.

    So let’s see if Islamic bigotry is going to be allowed to exclude relevant groups from a UN meeting in New York!
    (I suppose Trump bigotry could reciprocate by excluding Muslims!!!)



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