December 19, 2018

Cortez Masto, Colleagues Urge OPM to Protect the Rights of Transgender Federal Employees

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and 27 Senate colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to restore guidelines for protecting the privacy and rights of transgender federal employees. Last month, the Office of Personnel Management 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.

“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 senators wrote. “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 addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Feinstein, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.) and Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.).

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and below:

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 U.S. 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.

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