Texas Agency Threatens to Fire People Who Don’t Dress ‘Consistent With Their Biological Gender’

The internal department memo is just the latest attempt by state officials in Texas to crackdown on trans and gender non-conforming people.
Compassionate Eye Foundation/James Tse / Getty Images

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s mission is to “promote production agriculture, consumer protection, economic development and healthy living”—and now, apparently, the gender binary. 

The department, which is led by the elected Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, distributed a memo to employees last week informing them that they’re required to dress in a “manner consistent with their biological gender,” according to the Texas Observer, which obtained the memo and published it in part on Monday. 


The memo, which is clearly aimed at transgender and gender non-conforming employees, goes on to say that repeated violations of the policy will be subject to “corrective action” up to and including being fired, according to the Observer. One employee who spoke with the Observer said the policy “feels like it threatens the safety of anyone who doesn’t conform to the binary dress code.”

The internal department memo is just the latest attempt by state officials in Texas to crack down on trans and gender non-conforming people. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state agency overseeing child protective services to investigate the parents of transgender children for child abuse last year, and a bill to ban transition-related care for minors is currently moving through the legislature

Republican legislators are also attempting to pass restrictions on drag performances, which they’ve falsely claimed are attempts at “grooming” minors and influencing them to identify as LGBTQ+.


Miller’s office did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News Monday. 

“Appropriate” attire for women, as defined by the memo, includes not showing “excessive cleavage” and says skirts must be “within four inches of the knee” (however, “pants and Western apparel are allowable"). The expectations for men, on the other hand, are essentially to wear button-down shirts and socks, according to the memo published by the Observer, though shirts “must be tucked in.”

Miller, a former legislator first elected to statewide office in 2014, has been a prominent backer of former President Donald Trump since 2016. When Trump moved to ban transgender people from serving in the military in 2017, Miller said at the time that he was “thrilled.” 

“I just wonder why it took so damn long,” Miller said then. “The United States Military is not the place for leftist social experimentation.”

ACLU of Texas attorney Brian Klosterboer told the Texas Tribune that Miller’s dress code policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which deals with employment discrimination. In 2020, the Supreme Court held that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes under the law, in an opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. 

“State agencies should be focused on doing their jobs and not discriminating against their own employees and trying to make political statements through their agency regulations,” Klosterboer told the Tribune. “There is no important governmental interest that this can meet.”

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