Federal Case Law on Transgender People and Discrimination

The Trump Administration says trans protections are "fake news."
Federal courts disagree.

Over nearly two decades, numerous federal courts have ruled that federal sex discrimination laws—including the landmark Title VII employment law, the Title IX education law, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act—apply to discrimination against transgender people.

Courts of Appeals

  1. EEOC v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., 884 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2018) (holding that termination of employee on the basis of transitioning or transgender status violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act).
  2. Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, 858 F.3d 1034 (7th Cir. May 30, 2017) (holding that discrimination against transgender students constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution).
  3. Dodds v. U.S. Dept. of Education, 845 F.3d 217 (6th Cir. Dec.16, 2016) (holding that discrimination against transgender students likely constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution).
  4. Glenn v. Brumby, 663 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. Dec. 6, 2011) (holding that termination of employee based on her gender transition, transgender status and unsubstantiated “bathroom concerns” constitutes sex-based discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution).
  5. Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729 (6th Cir. March 25, 2005) (holding that termination of employee based on her gender transition constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act).
  6. Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. Aug. 5, 2004) (holding that termination of employee based on her gender transition constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII).
  7. Rosa v. Park West Bank & Trust Co., 214 F.3d 213 (1st Cir. June 8, 2000) (holding that refusal to serve transgender customer constitutes sex-based discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act).
  8. Schwenk v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. Feb. 29, 2000) (holding that the Gender Motivated Violence Act (GMVA) applied to targeting of a transgender person).

District Courts

  1. Tovar v. Essentia Health, cv-16-100-DWF-LIB (D. Minn. Sept. 20, 2018) (holding that a health care plan that excluded health services related to gender dysphoria discriminated against transgender people in violation of the Health Care Rights Law (Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act), which prohibits discrimination in health care).
  2. Boyden v. Conlin, No. 17-cv-264-WMC, 2018 (W.D. Wis. September 18, 2018) (holding that a state employee health plan refusal to cover transition-related care constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, Section 1557 of the ACA, and the Equal Protection Clause).
  3. EEOC v. A&E Tire, 1:17-cv-02362 (D. Colo. Sept. 5, 2018) (holding that an employer that denied an applicant a job because he was transgender likely violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).
  4. Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, 318 F.Supp.3d 1293 (M.D. Fla. Jul. 26, 2018) (holding that excluding transgender student from school restrooms consistent with his gender identity constituted sex discrimination under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause).
  5. Flack v. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 18-cv-309, 2018 WL 3574875 (W.D. Wis. Jul. 25, 2018) (holding that Medicaid exclusion targeting transgender people constitutes sex discrimination under Affordable Care Act and Equal Protection Clause).
  6. Doe v. Massachusetts Department of Correction, et al., No. CV 17-12255-RGS, 2018 WL 2994403 (D. Mass. June 14, 2018) (holding that "where a State creates a classification based on transgender status, the classification is tantamount to discrimination based on sex" under the Equal Protection Clause).
  7. Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, No. 4:15-cv-54 (E.D. Va. May 22, 2018) (holding that denying a transgender boy access to school restrooms matching his gender violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution)
  8. Parker v. Strawser Construction, No. 2:17-cv-541, 2018 WL 1942374 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 25, 2018) (affirming that Title VII protects against anti-transgender discrimination).
  9. Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Co., No. CV H-17-2188, 2018 WL 1626366 (S.D. Tex. Apr. 4, 2018) (holding that Title VII protects transgender workers against discrimination).
  10. M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County, 286 F. Supp. 3d 704 (D. Md. March 12, 2018) (holding that prohibiting a transgender boy from boys’ locker room based on transgender status is a Title IX sex-discrimination claim as well as a gender-stereotyping claim).
  11. F.V. v. Barron, 286 F. Supp. 3d 1131 (D. Idaho March 5, 2018) (finding the practice of denying transgender individuals' applications to change the sexes listed on their birth certificates violated Equal Protection Clause).
  12. Karnoski v. Trump, C17-1297-MJP, 2017 WL 5668071  (W.D. Wash. Dec 11, 2017) (granting preliminary injunction against policy of excluding transgender individuals from serving openly in the military).
  13. A.H. ex rel. Handling v. Minersville Area School District, No. 3:17-CV-391 2017 WL 5632662 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 22, 2017) (holding that excluding a transgender girl from girls' school restrooms states a sex discrimination claim under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution).
  14. Stone v. Trump, 280 F. Supp. 3d 747 (D. Md. Nov. 21, 2017) (discrimination against transgender people is gender-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution).
  15. Prescott v. Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, 265 F. Supp. 3d 1090 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 27, 2017) (holding that discrimination against transgender patients violates the Affordable Care Act).
  16. E.E.O.C. v. Rent-a-Center East, Inc., 264 F. Supp. 3d 952 (C.D. Ill. Sept. 8, 2017) (holding that discrimination against transgender workers violates Title VII).
  17. Brown v. Dept. of Health and Hum. Servs., No. 8:16DCV569, 2017 WL 2414567 (D. Neb. June 2, 2017) (holding that discrimination against transgender people constitutes sex discrimination that is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution).
  18. Smith v. Avanti, 249 F. Supp. 3d 1149, 2017 WL 1284723 (D. Colo. Apr. 5, 2017) (holding Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination against a transgender woman and partner).
  19. Evancho v. Pine-Richland Sch. Dist., 237 F. Supp. 3d 267 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 27, 2017) (holding that excluding transgender students from restrooms consistent with their gender identity likely constitutes sex-based discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause).
  20. Mickens v. Gen. Elec. Co. , No. 16-603, 2016 WL 7015665 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 29, 2016) (holding termination of employee based on his transgender status violates Title VII).
  21. Roberts v. Clark Cty. Sch. Dist., No. 2:15-cv-00388, 2016 WL 5843046 (D. Nev. Oct. 4, 2016) (holding that excluding transgender employee from restrooms consistent with his gender identity constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII).
  22. Bd. of Ed. of Highland Local Sch. Dist. v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., 208 F. Supp. 3d 850 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 26, 2016) (holding that excluding transgender student from restrooms consistent with her gender identity likely constituted sex-based discrimination under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause).
  23. Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, No. 16-CV-943-PP, 2016 WL 5239829 (E.D. Wis. Sept. 22, 2016) (holding that excluding transgender student from restrooms consistent with his gender identity likely constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title IX).
  24. Cruz v. Zucker, 195 F.Supp.3d 554 (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 5, 2016) (holding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is sex discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act).
  25. Fabian v. Hosp. of Cent. Conn., 172 F. Supp. 3d 509 (D. Conn. Mar. 18, 2016) (holding that discrimination based on transgender status of a job applicant constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII).
  26. Doe v. State of Ariz., No. CV-15-02399-PHX-DGC, 2016 WL 1089743 (D. Ariz. Mar. 21, 2016) (holding discrimination against a transgender employee constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII)
  27. Dawson v. H&H Elec., Inc., No. 4:14CV00583 SWW, 2015 WL 5437101 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 15, 2015) (holding that termination of an employee based on transgender status and gender transition constitutes discrimination based on sex under Title VII).
  28. Norsworthy v. Beard, 87 F. Supp. 3d 1164 (N.D. Ca. Oct. 5, 2015) (granting preliminary injunction against prison officials and medical staff for denying necessary medical treatment for inmate's gender dysphoria—finding likely Equal Protection Clause and Eighth Amendment violation).
  29. U.S. v. S.E. Okla. State Univ., No. CIV–15–324–C, 2015 WL 4606079 (W.D. Okla. July 10, 2015) (holding that harassment, health insurance exclusion, and termination based on gender transition constituted sex stereotyping discrimination under Title VII).
  30. Rumble v. Fairview Health Servs., No. 14–cv–2037, 2015 WL 1197415 (D. Minn. Mar. 16, 2015) (holding that discrimination against hospital patient based on his transgender status constitutes sex discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act).
  31. Finkle v. Howard Cty., 12 F. Supp. 3d 780 (D. Md. 2014) (holding a claim of discrimination based gender identity constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII).
  32. Lopez v. River Oaks Imaging & Diagnostic Group, Inc., 542 F. Supp. 2d 653 (S.D. Tex. 2008) (holding that withdrawal of job offer based on transgender status constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII).
  33. Mitchell v. Axcan Scandipharm, Inc., No. Civ.A. 05-243, 2006 WL 456173 (W.D. Pa. 2006) (holding that claim of harassment targeting transgender employee constituted discrimination based on sex stereotypes under Title VII).
  34. Tronetti v. Healthnet Lakeshore Hosp., No. 03–CV–0375E, 2003 WL 22757935 (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 2003) (holding claim of discrimination based on gender transition constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII).
  35. Schroer v. Billington, 577 F. Supp. 2d 293 (D.D.C. Sept. 19, 2008) (holding that withdrawal of job offer based on applicant’s gender transition constitutes sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act).

Only a few recent cases reject the view that sex discrimination laws protect transgender people

Etsitty v. Utah Transit Auth., 502 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir. 2007) (holding that discrimination against transgender workers may sometimes constitute sex discrimination under Title VII but that such discrimination was not covered in all cases).

Texas v. United States, 201 F. Supp. 3d 810 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2016) (holding that Title IX does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status).

Johnston v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 97 F. Supp. 3d 657 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2015) (holding that Title IX does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status.)

Federal courts have consistently rejected claims that transgender-inclusive policies violate the rights of others

Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, --- F.3d ---, 2018 WL 3581456 (3rd Cir. June 26, 2018) (rejecting arguments that a school policy protecting transgender students violated other students' rights), rehearing en banc rejected, --- F.3d ---, 2018 WL 3583578 (3d Cir. June 26, 2018)

Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District No. 2, No. 3:17-cv-01813 (D. Or. Jul. 24, 2018) (rejecting arguments that a school policy protecting transgender students violated other students' rights

Students & Parents for Privacy v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., No. 16-cv-4945, 2016 WL 6134121 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 18, 2016) report and recommendation adopted, 2017 WL 6629520 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 29, 2017) (rejecting arguments that a school policy protecting transgender students violated other students' rights under Title IX).

Cruzan v. Special Sch. Dist. No. 1., 294 F.3d 981, 983 (8th Cir. 2002) (rejecting arguments that a school policy protecting transgender employees with respect to restroom use violated another employee’s rights under Title VII).

Federal appeals courts have recently also affirmed protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people

Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, 853 F.3d 339 (7th Cir. Apr. 4, 2017) (en banc) (holding that discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex-based discrimination under Title VII, and rejecting the court’s reasoning for previously holding that anti-transgender discrimination is not covered).

Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., 883 F.3d 100 (2d Cir. Feb. 26, 2018) (holding that sexual orientation discrimination is motivated in part by sex and is a subset of sex discrimination for purposes of Title VII; employee was entitled to bring Title VII claim for discrimination based on sexual orientation).

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