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Texas agriculture commissioner orders workers to dress “biological gender”

A Texas state agency is being criticized for implementing a transphobic policy after a dress code instructed employees to dress according to their “biological gender.”

The policy from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, published Monday by the Texas Observer, said violations could result in discipline ending in termination. Miller doubled down on the policy Wednesday in an interview with Spectrum News.

Miller said his office had complaints about gender issues that led to that specific part of the policy, Spectrum reported.

“When a man comes dressed in drag, or vice versa, it’s very disruptive, it’s not professional,” Miller said. “We want you to come looking like you’re professional and representing.”

Civil rights and advocacy groups attacked the policy as discriminatory and vaguely worded.

“This dress code policy is … the commissioner trying to move us backwards in time decades to a time when the government and private employers could try to dictate and police how people express their gender,” Brian Klosterboer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told The Washington Post.

“It’s really unfortunate seeing a government agency that should be focused on doing its job and serving the people of Texas adopt a policy that seems so inflammatory and discriminatory towards its own employees,” Klosterboer said.

Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, told The Texas Tribune that the inaccurate language about “biological gender” — gender is a social construct, not a biological one — could lead to unintended enforcement.

“Are women no longer allowed to wear suits? Can men wear necklaces?” Martinez asked. “While this policy was clearly designed to target transgender employees, it will have a negative impact on everyone. Any policy that is designed to target a specific group degrades the whole department. Texans deserve better.”

Miller’s office pointed to his Spectrum News interview when asked for comment, but Miller himself took to Twitter on Wednesday to defend the policy.

“Dressing professionally and respectfully is about creating an appropriate and comfortable work environment for EVERYONE,” the tweet said. “This is common sense and common courtesy.”

The dress code comes amid continued efforts by Texas lawmakers and officials to restrict transgender and queer people in the state.

Texas Republicans have sought to criminalize gender-affirming care for minors and prevent children from attending drag shows.

In one Texas district, a school superintendent ordered that a number of books be removed from school libraries to avoid breaking a Texas law about teachers’ addressing controversial topics with students.

The books addressed a variety of topics, from racism to sexual and gender identity.

Source: nbcnews