A collection of recent transgender battles fought in the courts

By : Valentina Boré
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Transgender Americans, like Orlando’s Gina Versace, are fighting for their rights in court.

Here is a by-no-means comprehensive of some recent cases. 

Glenn v. Brumby et al. (Georgia, 2008-2011)
Vandy Beth Glenn was fired from her job in the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel when she informed her supervisor that she was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder and was planning to transition from male to female. Her supervisor informed Sewell Brumby, the head of the office where Glenn worked, who fired her.

  • July 2008: Lambda Legal files federal lawsuit in Georgia court.
  • July 2010: Court rules in favor of Glenn.
  • August 2010: Court orders Glenn be reinstated in her job.
  • February 2011: Lambda Legal files papers in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals defending the lower court’s ruling that Glenn suffered sex discrimination.
  • December 2011: Eleventh Circuit upholds lower court ruling that the General Assembly discriminated against Glenn.

Fields v. Smith (Wisconsin, 2006-2012)
Lambda Legal and ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three transgender women incarcerated in Wisconsin, challenging a Wisconsin law that bars access to hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for prison inmates and others in state custody.

  • January 2006: Federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
  • October 2007: Lambda Legal conducts trial arguing that the law at issue violates the 8th and 14th
  • April 2010: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin strikes down the law.
  • February 2011: Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union present argument before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • August 2011: Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholds transgender people’s right to access medical treatment in prison.
  • March 2012: U.S. Supreme Court turns down the state of Wisconsin’s appeal.

Student v. Arcadia Unified School District (California, 2011-2013)
Transgender student transitioned from female to male and returned to middle school, and although he presented as male and had completed a court-ordered name change, the school district still required that he use the nurse’s office for restroom access and to change in and out of his gym clothes, causing him to miss a lot of class. In seventh grade, his class took an overnight field trip and his parents requested far in advance that he be placed in a cabin with his male friends. The school district refused and placed him by himself with his father as a chaperone.

  • October 2011: NCLR filed a complaint on his behalf with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
  • July 2013: OCR and DOJ announced a resolution to the complaint, which required the school district to treat the student as male and stop singling him out for different treatment than his male peers. The district revised its policies to state that transgender and nonconforming students are entitled to equal access.

P. v. Philadelphia, et al. (Pennsylvania, 2009-2011)
Lambda Legal filed a discrimination complaint against the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services/Juvenile Justice Services to the City of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations on behalf of L.P., a male-to-female transgender girl who was discriminated against while she was in the custody of a secure youth detention facility in Philadelphia.

  • October 2009: Lambda Legal files complaint.
  • August 2011: Lambda Legal reaches a settlement with Youth Study Center, which requires the center to adopt new policies and trainings to ensure the safety of transgender youth in their care.

Logan v. Gary Community School Corporation (Indiana, 2007-2011)
K.K. Logan, a male-to-female transgender student who attended West Side High School her junior and senior years, was denied entry to her prom for wearing a dress. She was literally blocked by Principal Diane Rouse, who stood in front of the door with her arms stretched out, refusing to let K.K. in. Her classmates and members of the community who were outside taking pictures of their children rallied for her, but she wasn’t allowed to attend her prom.

  • December 2007: Lambda Legal files a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, arguing that the school violated her First Amendment rights.
  • September 2008: Court denies school district’s motion to dismiss the case.
  • January 2011: Gary Community School Corporation settles with Logan for an undisclosed amount. The settlement includes revisions to the school district’s dress code and non-discrimination policies, which now include specific protection to LGBT students.

Taylor v. Lystila (Illinois, 2013-2014)
Naya Taylor, a transgender woman, was refused hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by her primary care physician, Dr. AjaLystila. Taylor was told by the clinic that it “does not have to treat people like you.”

  • Early 2013: Taylor asks Dr. Lystila about HRT and Dr. Lystila refuses.
  • April 2014: Lambda Legal files a suit on behalf of Taylor.
  • June 2014: Lambda Legal receives word that its client, Naya Taylor, passed away from a heart attack.

Doe v. Clenchy (Maine, 2011-2014)
Transgender teen girl from Orono, Maine was forced to use a staff-only, non-communal restroom in isolation from her peers. Her parents were forced to withdraw her and her brother from the Orono school system and move to another part of the state where they could attend school quietly and safely.

  • May 2011: Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders files a complaint in Penobscot Superior Court on behalf of the teenage girl.
  • January 2012: GLAD files a motion for summary judgment arguing that Maine’s law prohibiting gender discrimination in schools requires that the school provide a transgender student access to the restroom that matches their gender.
  • June 2013: GLAD presents an argument on their client’s behalf before the Maine Law Court.
  • January 2014: Maine High Court rules that denying a transgender student the use of the restroom that matches their gender identity violates their rights under the state’s Human Rights Act.

Lopez Berera v. Holder (2011-2012)
Lambda Legal files a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the Court to grant Asylum to Karolina Lopez Berera, a transgender Mexican woman living with HIV/AIDS. Since transgender people are purposefully excluded from access to HIV medications, Ms. Lopez Berera will not have access to life-saving medications.

  • November 2011: Lambda Legal files amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.
  • April 2012: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issues an order remanding Ms. Lopez Berera’s asylum case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals for reconsideration.

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