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President Obama to issue order protecting transgender federal employees

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images News

President Obama announced on Monday that his administration is working on an executive order that would protect federal employees from workplace discrimination based on gender identity.

The executive order would expand existing protections for federal employees, which already include gay and lesbian workers, to include transgender individuals. Specifically, the protection would forbid the federal government from firing or refusing employment to transgender individuals based on their gender identity.

The executive order is the second announced in the past month that would protect LGBT workers from workplace discrimination. Earlier in June, the White House announced an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.

Federal law currently doesn't protect all LGBT employees from workplace discrimination — this executive order is designed to be a step toward fixing that — although in 2012 the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interpreted federal prohibitions on sex discrimination to also prohibit discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming employees. Eighteen states currently ban discrimination against LGBT employees, and three additional states provide protections only to gay and lesbian workers.