Nearly 180 major U.S. companies have now spoken out against the Trump administration’s attempt to erase trans people in public life.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 178 businesses have signed onto a letter affirming their support of transgender rights in the face of attacks from the White House. When the statement was originally published on Nov. 1, the declaration was co-signed by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber, as well as 52 other corporations.
The 121 additional names include American Express, eBay, Etsy, Foursquare, Gamestop, Gap, Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, Mozilla, Patreon, PayPal, Progressive Insurance, Spotify, Square, and TripAdvisor.
These companies are worth a reported $3.2 trillion in total.
In an open letter, they called for trans and intersex people “to be treated with the respect and dignity everyone deserves.”
“We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations,” the signatories wrote. “We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender or gender non-binary, or who are intersex.”
The statement was organized in response to a report in the New York Times that the Trump administration is weighing a memo that would limit the federal definition of gender to “biological sex” as defined at birth.
The memo is currently being drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and will reportedly be sent to the Justice Department (DOJ) by the end of 2018. If the DOJ signs off, it would then be sent to the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (DOE) for approval.
The memo will most directly impact the ability of trans students to be able to claim discrimination under Title IX, which prohibits sex-related bias in education programs which receive federal funding.
Should the memo be implemented, trans students would then have few remedies to file a complaint with the federal government if they are prevented from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity in schools or teachers refuse to call them by the correct name and pronouns.
While that would undoubtedly make the lives of transgender people harder, the signatories claimed the Trump administration does not have the ability to unilaterally erase the gains trans activists have made in recent decades.
“In the last two decades, dozens of federal courts have affirmed the rights and identities of transgender people,” the statement claimed. “Cognizant of growing medical and scientific consensus, courts have recognized that policies that force people into a binary gender definition determined by birth anatomy fail to reflect the complex realities of gender identity and human biology.”
Just days after that declaration was released, over 1,600 scientists—including nine Nobel Prize winners—validated those remarks. They claimed the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender people amount to little more than “pseudoscience.”
“This proposal is fundamentally inconsistent not only with science, but also with ethical practices, human rights, and basic dignity,” scientists said of the memo.
The White House has yet to respond publicly to growing criticism of its anti-trans policies by the business community, medical professionals, and human rights organizations. To date, 16 LGBTQ advocacy groups signed onto the HRC letter, including GLAAD, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, The National Center for Transgender Equality, The Transgender Law Center, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF).
Out Leadership, which partnered with HRC in putting together the corporate statement, said the backlash sends a clear message to Trump: Discrimination doesn’t pay.
“We’re deeply inspired to see so many of the world’s leading companies speaking with a united voice in support and defense of transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people,” said its founder and principal, Todd Sears, in a statement. “And we’re grateful to every company that’s signed on, including the Out Leadership members who stood up immediately to call for this statement.”
Jay Brown, the acting senior vice president for HRC’s programs, research, and training, called these statements of support for trans people a “crucially important moment” for the LGBTQ community.
“In one united voice, the business community is making clear they stand with the transgender community against the Trump-Pence administration’s unconscionable efforts to gut enforcement of existing civil rights protections,” Brown said in a statement. “No matter how hard the Trump-Pence administration continues to try, we will not be erased.”
It remains to be seen whether the letter will have any impact.
In 2016, more than 200 companies condemned the passage of a law in North Carolina preventing transgender people from using public bathrooms which correspond with their gender identity when entering schools and government buildings. Known as House Bill 2, that law was subsequently repealed and replaced.
The Associated Press estimated the backlash would have generated more than $3.76 billion in economic losses for North Carolina over the next 12 years if HB 2 hadn’t been struck down.
Many of the same companies that protested HB 2 two years ago were the same ones that signed onto the HRC letter.
You can read the full list of businesses below.
7R Media & Expeditions
Adobe Systems Inc.
AdRoll, Inc., dba AdRoll Group
Allen & Overy
The Ally Coalition
Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP)
Bank of America
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade
Bento Box Communications
Best Buy Co. Inc.
Braze, Inc. (formerly Appboy)
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Cisco Systems Inc.
The Coca-Cola Company
Combs Advisory Services
Complete Marketing Systems
Corteva Agriscience™, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont
Cultivating Change Foundation
Donatti Translation & Interpreting
The Dow Chemical Company
I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Fernandez & Company
Five North Chocolate
Grand Rounds, Inc
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Hilton Worldwide Inc.
Johnson & Johnson
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Lab Monkey Communications
Lansky Career Consultants
Levi Strauss & Co.
Litmus Software, Inc.
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Mango Digital, LLC
Megawatt Analytics, LLC
MGM Resorts International
Modern Columbus Realty
Momentum Psychological Services, PLLC
Nakanishi Research & Consulting LLC
NightSHIFT Communicator’s Network
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
Perkins & Will
Perkins Coie LLP
Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus
Rathman Consulting & Coaching, Inc.
Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC
Ropes & Gray
Royal Bank of Canada
Rudner Law Offices
Shift Technologies, Inc.
Signal Digital, Inc.
State Street Corporation
Studio 5 – Learning + Development, LLC
Texas Competes Action
Trillium Asset Management
Witeck Communications, Inc.
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