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Your Rights Gender Identity Discrimination

This page provides answers to the following questions:

1. What is gender identity discrimination?

2. Which federal law covers gender identity discrimination?

3. Are there any laws which make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity?

4. What if I'm being harassed because of my gender identity?

5. Are jokes or slurs about transgendered employees against the law?

6. What if my employer does not know my gender identity?

7. I am about to start my transition. What do I need to tell my employer?

8. Can my employer prevent me from dressing in the clothing appropriate to my gender identity?

9. My employer will not allow me to use the restroom appropriate for persons of my gender identity, after one of my coworkers complained. Every time I need to use the restroom, I have to leave my office and go to a public building next door. What can I do?

10. Are my employer's health benefits required to pay for my medical treatment or sex reassignment surgery?

11. Can my employer discriminate against me as a transgendered employee on religious grounds?

12. What is the difference between gender identity discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination?

13. What is the difference between gender identity discrimination and sex discrimination? Since I am being discriminated against for not conforming to "appropriate" gender roles, they seem similar to me.

14. Am I protected by disability discrimination laws, since gender identity disorder is a medical condition?

15. Who enforces the law?

16. How can I file a complaint?

17. What are the remedies available to me?

18. How much time do I have to file a charge of discrimination?

19. More Information About Gender Identity Discrimination

1. What is gender identity discrimination?

The phrase “gender identity” refers to one's self-identification as a man or a woman, as opposed to one's anatomical sex at birth. Usually, one's gender identity matches one's anatomical sex: people born with the physical characteristics of males usually identify as men and those with physical characteristics of females identify as women. However, for some people, gender identity does not always align with one's anatomical sex. Thus, for transsexual people, gender identity and anatomical sex are not in agreement. Someone born male may have a strong self-image and self-identification as a woman; someone born female may have a strong internal self-image and self-identification as a man. Some transsexual people seek medical treatment in the form of hormone therapy or surgery to have their physical sex to agree with their gender identity.

The phrase “gender expression” refers to how society views and interprets one's gender identity: recognizing someone as a woman or a man. Someone's gender identity may be the same as his or her anatomical sex, but may still be perceived differently by others. For example, someone is born male and self-identifies as a man, but is perceived by others as feminine; or someone is born female who self-identifies as a woman, but is seen by others as masculine.

The term “transgender” is a term used to describe someone who, in one or more ways, does not conform to stereotypes of gender identity and/or gender expression. This term includes: female and male cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens or kings, female and male impersonators, intersexed individuals, pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transsexuals, masculine females, feminine males, all persons whose perceived gender or anatomic sex may be incongruent with their gender expression, and all persons with gender characteristics and identities who are perceived to be androgynous.

Transgendered people can face serious discrimination in the workplace:

  • Many pre-operative transsexuals are fired the moment their employers find out about their plan to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
  • Transgendered people who cross-dress outside the workplace live in fear that their employer will discover that fact and fire them.
  • Transgendered people who attempt to wear clothing appropriate to their gender identity are disciplined, reassigned or terminated, based on a failure to conform to a company dress code policy that makes no effort to accommodate transgendered individuals.
  • Transgendered people have been refused access to workplace restroom facilities and harassed by coworkers and supervisors on the basis of their gender identity.
  • Many transgendered and gender-variant people are denied equal treatment in public accommodations, which can affect their ability to successfully function in the workplace. For example, transgendered people have been asked to leave restaurants, hotels, stores, medical facilities, and educational institutions. This discrimination may make it difficult, if not impossible, to successfully perform one's job.

If any of these things have happened to you on the job, you may have suffered gender identity discrimination.

2. Which federal law covers gender identity discrimination?

Discrimination based on gender identity is not specifically prohibited by the federal laws that generally apply to discrimination in employment, which specifically prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability. While there are legislative efforts underway to pass a federal law to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal, the proposed legislation as currently written does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

However, some people have argued successfully that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of discrimination based on sex or disability, which are both illegal under federal law and the laws of most states. For more information, see questions 12 and 13 below.

3. Are there any laws which make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity?

Eight states, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Mexico, California, Illinois, Maine, Washington, and Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, have anti-discrimination laws that specifically make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or transgendered status.

A growing number of cities and counties have local ordinances specifically prohibiting discrimination against transgendered and transsexual people, including several major metropolitan areas, such as Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; San Francisco, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood, California; Denver, Colorado; Iowa City, Iowa; Atlanta, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; New York City and Rochester, New York; Toledo, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Dallas, Texas; and Seattle and Olympia, Washington.

Some major corporations and other employers have adopted non-discrimination policies that protect transgendered people, including, among others: Aetna, American Airlines, Apple Computers, Eastman Kodak, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Lucent Technologies, NCR, the State Bar of Texas, Verizon Wireless, and Xerox.

There are also a number of governmental entities which have also adopted non-discrimination policies that protect their employees who are transgendered, including the city of Atlanta, Georgia; Dane County, Wisconsin; the city of Decatur, Georgia; the city of Houston, TX; Multnomah County, Oregon; the city of Olympia, Washington; and the city of Pine Lake, Georgia. Some members of the United States Congress have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression for those who work in their offices.

The law in this area is constantly changing, with numerous legislative efforts in progress around the country to add gender identity to state laws, local ordinances, governmental regulations, and corporate policies. You should check with a local attorney, transgender rights organization, or your corporate human resources department to see whether there have been any recent changes in the law or policies affecting your employment. Even if there is not legal protection affecting your employment, you may be able to encourage your employer to voluntarily cease discriminatory activity and/or to educate others in your workplace to help improve your employment situation.

4. What if I'm being harassed because of my gender identity?

Federal law and the law in most states make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex. These laws also prohibit sexual harassment, which is a form of discrimination that occurs when a boss, supervisor, or co-worker subjects you to hostile, offensive or intimidating behavior because of your sex that is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with your ability to perform your job.

Some courts and administrative agencies have indicated a willingness to interpret state and local sex discrimination laws to include transsexual people. The U.S. Supreme Court has also allowed sexual harassment claims under federal law where the person responsible for the harassment and the victim of harassment are of the same sex, as long as the harassment was “because of sex.” Because sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under these laws, it may seem logical to assume that a transgender employee harassed because of his or her gender identity would be able to file a harassment claim, as long as the harassment was “because of sex.” However, the law is not yet fully developed in this area and it is unclear how a court or administrative agency would respond to this type of legal claim.

If you as a transgendered person are considering bringing a harassment claim in a state or city with a discrimination law that does not specifically include gender identity, you should consult with a local attorney as well as a person familiar with the history of the state law or city ordinance to determine whether this strategy is likely to be successful.

5. Are jokes or slurs about transgendered employees against the law?

It depends. Jokes or slurs about your gender identity may be considered a form of sexual harassment, which courts have determined is a form of illegal discrimination. However, federal law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. The conduct must be sufficiently frequent or severe to create a hostile work environment or result in a "tangible employment action," such as hiring, firing, promotion, or demotion. For more information about hostile work environments, see our page on sexual harassment.

6. What if my employer does not know my gender identity?

You may choose to keep your gender identity a private matter; nothing requires you to disclose this information to your employer if you do not choose to do so. However, if you are experiencing discrimination or harassment at work, you may wish to speak with your company's human resources department and/or a member of management to see whether your employer can work with you to solve the problems you are facing.

7. I am about to start my transition. What do I need to tell my employer?

A transitioning transgendered person is one who is modifying his or her physical characteristics and manner of expression to — in effect — satisfy the standards for membership in another gender. Some transgendered people seek medical treatment in the form of hormone therapy or surgery to make their physical sex agree with their gender identity, while others do not. Transition is done with the help of medical professionals in accordance with recognized standards of care that have been in use since the 1960s. Transition may include a trial living period of at least one year to determine the individual's comfort with the new gender and, if the transitioning person so decides, continued hormone administration and life in the reassigned gender sometimes accompanied by surgical reconstruction of primary and secondary sex characteristics, facial structure, etc.

Those who have gone through the process of transitioning in the workplace strongly recommend that you share your intention to transition with your employer in advance, in a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting. It's not a good idea to surprise your boss by transitioning without an advance agreement. Your boss must be part of the planning process, as you need your boss as an ally if you are to have a successful transition. You will need to work with your supervisor and others to carefully plan your transition. Your management and others involved in the planning should become familiar with educational resources, including company policy and books on the subject.

It is recommended on the day of your transition that your employer hold a department meeting or discuss the transition in a meeting that has already been scheduled. Everyone in your work group with whom you interact often should be there. The manager of the work group (the department head, for example) should make the announcement, as it is important for the highest level manager in the group to show support.

Some other workplace issues that may need to be quickly resolved once you have started your transition include:

  • a new company identification badge with your new name and photo;
  • a new name tag on door/desk/cubicle;
  • updating any organization charts, mailing lists, and other references to your old name;
  • paperwork for the HR employee database, effective the day of transition, to change the following:
    • new name
    • gender marker (“M” or “F”)
    • computer handles and account IDs, if the old ID is inappropriate
    • e-mail address, if it contains the old name;
  • restroom use and communicating the decision to other employees;
  • new introductions.

For more information about the transition process in the workplace, see Checklist for Transitioning in the Workplace.

8. Can my employer prevent me from dressing in the clothing appropriate to my gender identity?

Like non-transgendered people, transgendered people want to go to work in clothes that conform to their gender identity; clothes that they feel the most comfortable wearing. However, opposition to cross-dressing in the workplace is perhaps the most commonly voiced objection to transgender rights, so you may need to educate your employer and coworkers on this issue to allay their fears.

There is no evidence that protecting transgendered people against discrimination leads to any increase in the number of employees who cross-dress on the job. Employers in places with anti-discrimination laws for transgendered employees have not reported or complained of any such increase, and human rights departments in those jurisdictions have not been inundated with complaints from cross-dressing employees. Also, many women already “cross-dress” in the workplace by wearing what used to be considered traditionally male clothing, such as pantsuits.

The following guidelines were created by the City and County of San Francisco, California, to ensure dress codes are non-discriminatory:

  • Employers have the right to implement employee dress codes including those according to gender.
  • Transsexual employees have the right to comply with sex-specific dress codes according to their gender identity.

If you live in a state or city which makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity, or work for a company with an anti-discrimination policy, then your employer should already have adopted a similar policy to prevent discrimination claims. If you live in an area with no legal protections for transgendered employees, you may wish to ask your employer to adopt this policy to prevent future confusion or disputes over dress code compliance.

If this does not resolve the problem, or your employer is not willing to be cooperative in promoting a solution to this problem, you should consult an attorney familiar with transgender and/or discrimination issues in employment to further advise you and to communicate with your employer.

9. My employer will not allow me to use the restroom appropriate for persons of my gender identity, after one of my coworkers complained. Every time I need to use the restroom, I have to leave my office and go to a public building next door. What can I do?

Like everyone else, transgendered people need access to safe and dignified restroom facilities. However, a person in transition, or temporarily cross-dressed, often finds they cannot safely use the restroom corresponding to their birth sex, yet if they use the restroom matching their presentation, they can be arrested. Some employers force a transgendered worker to walk long distances to use a single occupancy restroom, or to hang a sign on the restroom door whenever she or he uses the facilities. Some employers have allowed the emotional objections of a minority of coworkers to dictate the employer's response, neglecting the very real concerns of the transgendered employee.

The regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require that all workers have unrestricted access to a convenient restroom, and have suggested that a walk of more than a quarter-mile is too far. Obviously, an employee's productivity will be impacted if restroom trips require a long walk.

Many employers have successfully dealt with the issue of restroom usage on a case-by-case basis. Usually, the simplest solution is the best: the transgendered employee should use the restroom matching the current gender presentation. On first day of a workplace transition, the employee will begin to use the restroom matching his or her new gender. This decision should be communicated to all employees with the support of management. If management supports the right to use a gender-appropriate restroom, other employees will be encouraged to go on with their jobs and quickly forget that there was ever an issue. Another acceptable solution may be for the transgendered employee to use a single-occupancy unisex restroom, if one is available in close proximity to the work area.

If this does not resolve the problem, or your employer is not willing to be cooperative in promoting a solution to this problem, you should consult an attorney familiar with transgender and/or employment discrimination legal issues to further advise you and to communicate with your employer about its legal obligations.

10. Are my employer's health benefits required to pay for my medical treatment or sex reassignment surgery?

The answer to this question is generally no, unless you are an employee of the City and County of San Francisco, California, which in 2001 became the first municipality in the nation to provide medical benefit coverage for employees undergoing sex reassignment. However, a few companies have already been quietly offering the benefit to their employees.

While some companies that provide medical benefits for employees undergoing sex reassignment choose not to publicize the benefit, most simply do not offer the benefit, citing cost concerns, previous lack of demand, and/or the policies of the company's insurance carrier. However, if you work for a company which has a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or gender expression, or company management has proven to be receptive to transgendered workplace issues, it may be possible to convince your company to take the next logical step to fully support the medical needs of transgender employees.

The costs associated with transitioning are not just those related to the actual surgery. Psychological counseling is required in order to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Hormone treatments are one of the biggest expenses, but follow-up doctor's office visits and medical care are also necessary. While your employer may incorrectly assume that the costs associated with sex reassignment are cosmetic or elective, medical professionals have recognized gender dysphoria is a mental/psychological diagnosis. If someone is diagnosed as gender dysphoric, sex reassignment surgery is often recommended as a component of that treatment. However, many insurance policies exclude sex reassignment surgery and other treatments for gender dysphoria from the list of covered medical procedures.

If your employer is interested in assisting transgender employees by covering sex reassignment surgery under existing insurance coverage, it may be necessary to explore whether the company's insurer will allow this benefit to be offered, or to change insurance companies. It also may be helpful to consult with other companies offering sex reassignment surgical coverage to obtain more information about the potential costs and coverage needed.

11. Can my employer discriminate against me as a transgendered employee on religious grounds?

Generally not. In some states, religious employers are exempted from anti-discrimination laws. For more information, please see our page on state religious discrimination laws. If you work for a non-religious employer, however, your employer may find it difficult to maintain a legitimate business justification for policies or practices which discriminate against transgendered employees. The personal religious beliefs of a particular supervisor would rarely, if ever, be a legitimate basis for discrimination in this situation, especially if other company employees had been treated differently.

(This assumes discrimination on the basis of gender identity is against the law; however, this form of discrimination either may not be specifically against the law or not yet legally resolved in certain states, as discussed above.)

12. What is the difference between gender identity discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination?

Sexual orientation as a legal concept is generally understood to refer only to whether a person is homosexual (gay), heterosexual (straight), or bisexual. Not all transgender people are gay. In fact, many transgendered people identify as straight; many transgender women have male partners and many transgender men have female partners. When transgender people face discrimination, it often has no relationship to their sexual orientation.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia make it illegal to discriminate in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. Of these, Minnesota Minnesota Stat. Ann. %26sect; 363.01(45) (1996) defines 'sexual orientation' to include 'having or being perceived as having a self image or identity not traditionally associated with one's biological maleness or femaleness.', llinois The Illinois law, 775 ILCS 5/1-103, defines sexual orientation as 'actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person's designated sex at birth.', Maine, New Mexico, and Washington explicitly include transgendered and transsexual people as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the definition of sexual orientation. In other states where courts have analyzed the state's sexual orientation anti-discrimination law, courts have narrowly interpreted the laws to exclude gender identity on the grounds that there is no evidence that gender identity was intended to be included in the law's definition of sexual orientation <em>See Conway v. City of Hartford</em>, 1997 Conn. Super. LEXIS 282 (refusing to dismiss transsexual plaintiff's claim of sexual orientation discrimination, but noting that Maffei v. Kolaeton Industry, Inc., 626 N.Y.S. 2d 391 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995) (holding that the definition of sexual orientation in New York City ordinance does not include transsexualism); Underwood v. Archer Management Services, Inc., 857 F. Supp. 96, 98 (D.D.C. 1994) ("a conclusory statement that [transsexual plaintiff] was discharged on the basis of transsexuality . . . does not constitute a claim for relief on the basis of . . . sexual orientation") However, in all three of these locales, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is now illegal under a state law basis other than sexual orientation: Connecticut (sex); New York (sex); District of Columbia (personal appearance)" />.

Current and future efforts to pass state and local laws making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation will likely include an effort by transgender activists and their supporters to either separately include gender identity as a protected category or to include gender identity within the definition of sexual orientation. Where this occurs, it will provide a clearer basis to analyze the intent of lawmakers when passing a particular law as to whether gender identity was intended to be covered under the law or not. Where there has been no specific legislative history on this issue, courts have tended to recognize the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity, instead of acknowledging the similarity of the forms of discrimination and harassment against transgendered people and gay, lesbian and bisexual people which the laws have attempted to make illegal.

If you are a transgendered person who is considering bringing a discrimination claim in a state or city with a sexual orientation discrimination ordinance that does not specifically include gender identity, you should consult with a local attorney, as well as a person familiar with the history of the state law or city ordinance, to determine whether this strategy is likely to be successful.

13. What is the difference between gender identity discrimination and sex discrimination? Since I am being discriminated against for not conforming to "appropriate" gender roles, they seem similar to me.

Until very recently, federal courts have uniformly held that transsexual people are not protected under Title VII, the law which makes sex discrimination illegal, on the ground that Congress did not intend when passing the law for the term "sex" to include transsexualism. <em>See Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, Inc.</em>, 742 F. 2d 1081 (7th Cir. 1984), <em>cert. denied</em>, 471 U.S. 1017 (1985) (Somers v. Budget Marketing, 667 F.2d 748 (8th Cir. 1982) (same); Holloway v. Arthur Andersen %26 Co., 566 F.2d 659 (9th Cir. 1977) (same); James v. Ranch Mart Hardware, Inc., 881 F. Supp. 478 (D. Kan. 1995) (same); Powell v. Read's, Inc., 436 F. Supp. 369 (D. Md. 1977) (same); Voyles v. Ralph K. Davies Medical Center, 403 F. Supp. 456 (N.D. Calif. 1975) (same)" />

In federal court decisions, however, the Ninth Circuit (the federal appeals court which covers the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and Sixth Circuit (covering Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee) have concluded that transsexual persons are protected from discrimination under Title VII and other sex discrimination statutes, based upon a more recent U.S. Supreme Court case <i>Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins</i>, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) (discrimination against a person because that person does not conform to traditional sex stereotypes is covered by Title VII) that considers discrimination based on gender stereotyping to be illegal sex discrimination made illegal by Title VII. <i>Schwenk v. Hartford</i>, 204 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. 2000) (the 'initial judicial approach taken in [previous cases] has been overruled by the logic and language of <i>Price Waterhouse</i>.')

Another case in the First Circuit (the federal appeals court which covers Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island) was decided similarly. This case involved a loan application under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, rather than a federal employment law. <em>Rosa v. Park West Bank %26amp; Trust Co.</em>, 214 F.3d 213 (1st Cir. 2000) (reinstating Equal Credit Opportunity Act claim on behalf of biologically male plaintiff who alleged that he was denied an opportunity to apply for a loan because he was not dressed in

Similarly in the past, employment discrimination cases brought under state laws prohibiting sex discrimination have been unsuccessful, including cases in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. <em>See Conway v. City of Hartford</em>, 1997 Conn. Super. LEXIS 282 (Feb. 4, 1997) (dismissing sex discrimination claim alleging violations of Connecticut Fair Employment Practice Act; however, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ruled in 2000 that transsexuals may bring sex discrimination claims under state law, based in part on case law that was issued after the Conway decision); <em>Underwood v. Archer Management Services, Inc.</em>, 857 F. Supp. 96 (D.D.C. 1994) (dismissing sex discrimination claim alleging violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act; however, transgendered individuals are now protected by the section of the Human Rights Act which makes it illegal to discriminate based on personal appearance); <em>Dobre v. National R.R. Passenger Corp. (AMTRAK)</em>, 850 F. Supp. 284 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (dismissing claim brought under sex discrimination provision of Pennsylvania Human Rights Act).

More recently, however, some state courts and state administrative agencies have indicated a willingness to depart from older Title VII precedents and to interpret state and local sex discrimination laws to include transsexual people. These states and cities include Massachusetts, New York City, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Vermont and New Jersey. <i>See Jette v. Honey Farms %26amp; Millette v. Tutco</i> (Mass. Commission Against Discrimination Oct. 10, 2001) (state administrative agency ruled that transsexual people are protected by Massachusetts state law prohibitions against sex discrimination); <i>Maffei v. Kolaeton Industry, Inc.</i>, 626 N.Y.S. 2d 391 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995) (city ordinance prohibiting 'gender' discrimination protects transsexuals, disagreeing with the reasoning of federal cases which hold that Title VII does not protect transsexuals); <i>Rentos v. OCE-Office Systems</i>, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19060 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (court refused to dismiss transsexual woman's claim that she had been discriminated against on the basis of sex in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.)  Note that as of 2002, the New York City Human Rights Law expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity; <i>Declaratory Ruling On Behalf Of John/Jane Doe</i> (Conn. Comm'n on Human Rights %26amp; Opportunities Nov. 9, 2000) (state administrative agency ruled that transsexual people are protected by Connecticut state law prohibitions against sex discrimination); <i>In the Matters of HCRC NO. 9951, et al.</i>, (gives Hawaii Civil Rights Commission the right to investigate investigate all claims of sex discrimination filed by transgendered individuals and transsexuals to determine if sexual stereotyping or other forms of sex discrimination have occurred; Vermont Attorney General has ruled Vermont law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment, public accommodations, housing, and other areas; and <i>Enriquez v. West Jersey Health Systems</i>, 2001 N.J. Super. LEXIS 283 (N.J. Super. 2001) (concluding that New Jersey state law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment protects transsexual people)

If you have been discriminated against because of your gender identity and/or gender expression, you may wish to consult with a local attorney to determine whether you can and/or should bring a claim for sex discrimination under federal or state law.

14. Am I protected by disability discrimination laws, since gender identity disorder is a medical condition?

Transsexual people are not protected under federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of handicap or disability. Although transsexualism has been recognized for many years as a medical condition, both of the federal laws making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability, the Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C. 706(8)(F)(i) (1997) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 42 U.S.C. 12211(b)(1) (1997) explicitly exclude both “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments” from protection.

Although most states and the District of Columbia have state laws that prohibit employment discrimination against people with disabilities, like federal law, several of these state laws expressly exclude transsexual people, including Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. Courts in some states where the state law does not specifically exclude transsexualism, including Pennsylvania and Iowa, still have held that transsexualism is not a protected disability.

More recently, however, some state courts and state administrative agencies have indicated a willingness to depart from older precedents and to interpret state and local disability discrimination laws to include transsexual people. These states and cities include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, and Oregon.

If you have been discriminated against because of your gender identity and/or gender expression, you may wish to consult with a local attorney to determine whether you can and/or should bring a claim for disability discrimination under federal or state law.

15. Who enforces the law?

Protections under state and local laws are generally enforced by state or local anti-discrimination agencies, which may be called a “fair employment,” “civil rights,” or “human rights” commission or agency. For more information about your state and local agencies, see our page on filing a complaint.

16. How can I file a complaint?

To file a complaint under state and local statutes, please contact your state or local anti-discrimination agency or an attorney in your state. For more information, see our page on filing a complaint.

17. What are the remedies available to me?

For remedies available under state and local statutes, please contact your state or local anti-discrimination agency or an attorney in your state. For more information, see our page on filing a complaint.

18. How much time do I have to file a charge of discrimination?

Because there are many sources of state and local laws relating to discrimination based on gender identity, there are too many different deadlines to summarize here. To protect your legal rights, it is always best to contact your state or local governmental agency, or an attorney promptly when discrimination is suspected. For more information, see our page on filing a complaint.

19. More Information About Gender Identity Discrimination:

Transgender Law and Policy Institute
Workplace Guidelines for Transgendered Employees
Transgender Equality: A Handbook for Activists and Policymakers

This page was updated on January 26, 2009



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