Texas agency threatens to fire staff who don't dress 'consistent with their biological gender'

Texas State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller
Texas State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller stands in his office in Austin, Texas, on September 12, 2016.Michael Donhauser/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The Texas Department of Agriculture sent employees a new dress code last week.

  • It says that staff must dress "consistent with their biological gender," listing example clothes.

  • The memo says non-compliance will be met with escalating punishments, including being fired.

The Texas Department of Agriculture threatened to fire staff who don't comply with a new dress code mandating that people dress "in a manner consistent with their biological gender."

The full policy was in a memo distributed to employees last week. The Texas Observer first reported its existence, and the Texas Tribune later published the document.

It lays out what employees at the agency must wear to the office to "reflect the culture, dignity, and professionalism of the Texas Department of Agriculture."

It provided an extensive list of acceptable and unacceptable clothing, from a ban on Crocs, a guide to skirt length, and a thumbs-up for cowboy hats.

The clothing requirements were given on gender lines, and came with the note that staff "are expected to comply with this dress code in a manner consistent with their biological gender."

Breaking the rules would lead to "corrective action" like being sent home to change, with further sanctions "up to and including termination," it said.

Setting out dress options for men, it said "business attire includes a long-sleeved dress shirt, tie, and sport coat worn with trousers and dress shoes or boots."

"Appropriate" attire for women, as outlined in the memo, includes not showing "excessive cleavage" and skirts being "within four inches of the knee."

"For women, business attire includes tailored pantsuits, business-like dresses, coordinated dressy separates worn with or without a blazer, and conservative, closed-toe shoes or boots," it said.

"You are a professional, look like one," the memo added.

The agency did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, sent outside regular business hours.

One employee, who was not named, told the Texas Observer that the policy "feels like it threatens the safety of anyone who doesn't conform to the binary dress code."

The report came as Texas and multiple other US states are cracked down on transgender rights.

Since 2020, an a large number of anti-transgender laws have been created across the country, includes measures banning trans children from playing on sports teams to prohibiting doctors from giving trans youth treatments like hormone blockers.

There was more anti-transgender legislation filed in Texas this year than in any other state, Axios reported earlier this month.

The Texas Department of Agriculture is led by Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican first elected to his role in 2014. Miller has also been a prominent backer of former President Donald Trump since 2016.

When Trump signed a law banning transgender people from serving in the military in 2017, Miller said that he was "thrilled," according to Big Country Homepage.

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