Protections for Transgendered Federal Employees Rolled Back

OPM during the week of Thanksgiving 2018 replaced the Obama-era Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace with a memorandum titled Guidance Regarding Non-Discriminatory Practices in Federal Employment.

Under the new guidelines, agencies and offices will require legal paperwork from transitioned employees before making any changes to personnel files, email accounts and dress code or job requirements. Previously, an employee did not need to produce proof of having transitioned before requesting that colleagues and managers use their preferred name and pronoun, beginning to dress according to their gender expression and starting to use restrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities.

Government Executive obtained a recording of a conference call during which OPM Diversity and Inclusion office program manager Natalie Veeney explained to members of the group Pride in Federal Service that the move came as a “shock to many.”

On the call, Veeney said agencies and offices now “have autonomy to put forth their policies and their practices and their procedures based upon their missions and their employees.”

She further advised listeners that “you have to be strategic and specific now that we don’t have [a] policy in place specifically. You have to be active.”

Think Progress, which first reported the removal of the old guidance on protections for transgendered federal employees on November 23, noted that language stating that gender discrimination was not allowed remains on the OPM website. However, Think Progress notes, “detailed definitions for the terms ‘gender identity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘gender non-conforming,’ and ‘transition’” no longer appear.