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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 51
Murray, Cantwell call on Trump administration to protect rights of Transgender federal employees
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Murray, Cantwell call on Trump administration to protect rights of Transgender federal employees

WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2018) - This week, US Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and 27 of their Senate colleagues called on the Trump administration to restore guidelines for protecting the privacy and rights of transgender federal employees.

Last month, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) replaced information on its website that provided supervisors with guidelines regarding transgender federal employees with new guidance that omits essential information, including any reference to transgender individuals.

'We write to express our serious concern that guidance meant to ensure transgender federal employees are treated with dignity and respect has been removed from the website of the US Office of Personnel Management,' the senators wrote in a letter to the acting director of the OPM. 'We request that you immediately make the guidance available online, so that managers, supervisors, and employees are equipped with accurate information and fully understand their responsibilities in the federal workplace.'

'The new guidance that replaced it omits essential information, including any reference to transgender individuals, greatly diminishing the OPM's ability to educate federal agencies on anti-discrimination policies and retain a productive federal workforce as diverse as the people it serves,' the senators continued.

The Trump administration has removed information about LGBTQ people from a variety of websites across federal agencies, including the White House website, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health website, and the Department of State website, and has aggressively taken anti-LGBTQ actions, which have been catalogued by the National Center for Transgender Equality and GLAAD.

In addition to Murray and Cantwell, the letter was also signed by US Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Carper (D-DE).

The full text of the letter is below.

December 18, 2018
The Honorable Margaret Weichert
Acting Director
US Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20415

Dear Acting Director Weichert:

We write to express our serious concern that guidance meant to ensure transgender federal employees are treated with dignity and respect has been removed from the website of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM). We request that you immediately make the guidance available online, so that managers, supervisors, and employees are equipped with accurate information and fully understand their responsibilities in the federal workplace.

The original guidance addressed common questions that agency managers and federal employees had raised with OPM, identifying issues and core concepts specific to understanding rights and fair treatment of transgender employees. The new guidance that replaced it omits essential information, including any reference to transgender individuals, greatly diminishing OPM's ability to educate federal agencies on anti-discrimination policies and retain a productive federal workforce as diverse as the people it serves.

In a statement last month, 178 companies, including Microsoft, IBM, Google, and many others, affirmed that diversity and inclusion are good for business, while discrimination significantly harms transgender people and imposes enormous productivity costs. In the Business Statement on Transgender Equality, business leaders noted the importance of guidance and other resources to support their transgender employees, citing that 'more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 have clear gender identity protections; two-thirds have transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage; hundreds have LGBTQ+ and Allies business resource groups and internal training efforts.'

On June 25, 2018, the OPM Director's Blog issued a statement celebrating LGBT Pride Month 2018, which committed OPM to 'human capital management strategies that attract, develop, and retain a high-performing, engaged, and diverse Federal workforce where each employee feels valued and respected as a member of the Federal family.' The statement also encouraged 'all Federal employees to further commit themselves to the progress we've made in creating a culture that is aware, accepting, inclusive, and respectful of our diversity.'

We hope that you will continue this commitment by making the original guidance supporting transgender employees available online in order to promote safe and positive workplace conditions across the federal government. We also request information on what further actions OPM will take under your leadership to ensure the privacy and rights of transgender federal employees.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to receiving your prompt response on this important issue.

Courtesy of Sen. Maria Cantwell

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