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Apple, other tech giants sign letter opposing Trump administration's attempt to define gender

Apple and more than 50 major U.S. companies drafted a letter this week supporting the legal rights of transgender people as the Trump administration reportedly considers narrowing gender definitions.

Cook Trump

Apple CEO Tim Cook at then U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump's tech summit in 2016.


The cadre of big-name brands, which includes tech giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others, threw their collective weight behind a letter opposing potential Trump administration efforts to define gender by biological traits identified at birth, reports CBNC.

The letter is in response to a The New York Times report that earlier this month shined a light on efforts to reverse legal protections afforded to transgender individuals instated during the Obama administration.

A Department of Health and Human Services memo obtained by the Times reveals a push to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the civil rights law banning gender discrimination in education programs receiving financial assistance from the federal government. Language in the memo suggests the Trump administration is considering a more narrow definition of gender, more specifically one that is based on birth genitalia.

"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the memo said, according to the Times. "The sex listed on a person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."

The department drafted and has been circulating the memo since last spring. Under the proposal, an estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth could lose Title IX protections, the report said.

In its letter this week, the more than 50 U.S. companies rebuked the proposal in no uncertain terms.

"We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations," the letter reads. "We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender nonbinary, or intersex."

While Apple has a history of speaking out on LGBT issues — condemning Trump's withdrawal of protections for transgender public bathroom use and decrying a ban on transgender soldiers, for example — the wider tech community stays largely silent on such matters.

The letter in its entirety:

We, the undersigned businesses, stand with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender nonbinary or intersex, and call for all such 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. We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender nonbinary, or intersex.

In the last two decades, dozens of federal courts have affirmed the rights and identities of transgender people. 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.

Recognizing that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and that discrimination imposes enormous productivity costs (and exerts undue burdens), hundreds of companies, including the undersigned, have continued to expand inclusion for transgender people across corporate America.

Currently more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 have clear gender identity protections; two-thirds have transgender-inclusive health care coverage; hundreds have LGBTQ+ and Allies business resource groups and internal training efforts.

Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members. What harms transgender people harms our companies.

We call for respect and transparency in policymaking, and for equality under the law for transgender people.

The letter was signed by Accenture, Adobe Systems Inc., Airbnb, Altria Group, Amalgamated Bank, Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP), Bank of America, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, BNY Mellon, Cargill, Cisco Systems Inc., Citi, Clifford Chance, Corning Incorporated, Corteva Agriscience, Deutsche Bank, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Facebook, Fastly, Inc., Google, Hogan Lovells International LLP, HSBC, IBM Corporation, Intel Corporation, Intuit Inc., Iron Mountain, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lush Handmade Cosmetics, Lyft, Marriott International, MassMutual, MGM Resorts International, Microsoft Corp., Nike Inc., PepsiCo, Replacements, Ltd., Ropes & Gray, Royal Bank of Canada, S&P Global, Salesforce, Sheppard Mullin, Sodexo Inc., Splunk, State Street Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, The Dow Chemical Company, TiVo Corporation, Trillium Asset Management, Twitter Inc., Uber and Warby Parker.

Editor's note: Due to its political nature, comments for this article have been disabled.