Next week the United States Supreme Court will begin to weigh a decision that will have a huge and significant impact on the transgender community.
According to The Guardian’s story on Aimee Stephens:
After years of mixed decisions in lower courts the justices must decide whether or not sex is a defining factor when LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination at work by the Civil Rights Act, the landmark 1964 legislation that outlaws discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin.
Stephens’ case is one of three discrimination cases involving LGBTQ individuals that the court will hear on 8 October and the first supreme court case involving the civil rights of transgender people.
…Lack of legal protections has unfairly affected the trans community for too long, said Kaplan. At its heart, he says, Stephens’ case is very simple and should offer more protection in future. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prevents people from being discriminated against on the grounds of sex. And that definition should include sexual orientation and identity, he argues. “The definition of being transgender is someone who identifies differently from the sex assigned to them at birth. If the motivation for firing somebody is because they’re transgender, it’s motivated by sex. It’s sex discrimination. It’s right there,” he said.
The ramifications of the case could stretch far beyond the LGBTQ community. In 1989 the supreme court found Price Waterhouse guilty of sex discrimination when it denied a partnership to Ann Hopkins, a manager who was deemed too aggressive and “manly” in her behavior and in need of a “course in charm school” according to one of her bosses. Kaplan worries that a ruling against Stephens could support discrimination against people of any gender who don’t conform to their employer’s stereotypes.
It’s sad and scary to think that our basic rights are being determined by our gender identity, but here we are.