Business

Google, Uber among businesses urging Washington not to weaken transgender rights

Fifty-six companies sign letter opposing policy plan

Bloomberg

Demonstrators held signs in support of trans equality outside the White House on Oct. 22.
Bloomberg Demonstrators held signs in support of trans equality outside the White House on Oct. 22.

Apple, Facebook, Google and Uber are among 56 companies that told the Trump administration on Thursday they oppose any change in federal policy that would define gender on the basis of one’s biological sex at birth — the latest clash between tech giants and the White House over civil rights issues.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, the businesses said such a policy would be discriminatory and harm their workers.

The companies said they “stand with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender nonbinary or intersex, and call for people for be treated with the respect everyone deserves.”

“We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations,” they wrote.

“We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender nonbinary, or intersex.”

Last month, Trump said he is “seriously” rethinking how transgender people are treated under federal law, telling reporters that his administration has “a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now.”

The effort has been led internally by the Department of Health and Human Services, which last year told officials not to use the word “transgender” in their budget documents.

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The move marked the administration’s latest effort to roll back federal protections for transgender people, including students who seek to use the bathrooms of their choice at school, and it drew an outcry from equal-rights organizations.

Fifteen of those groups, led by the Human Rights Campaign and Out Leadership, organized a campaign to get business leaders to speak out against the administration’s potential policy change.

Companies signing the tech-heavy letter include Airbnb, Amazon, Ben and Jerry’s Homemade, IBM, Intel, Lyft, Microsoft, Dow Chemical and Warby Parker. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns the Washington Post.)

“Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members. What harms transgender people harms our companies,” the companies wrote in the letter.

The letter marks the industry’s latest salvo against the Trump administration over its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Top executives at Google and Twitter sharply criticized the president last year after he issued an order that banned transgender people from serving in the military.

Many of the same companies signed a joint letter in May 2017 opposing legislation in Texas that would restrict transgender students’ bathroom use.

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