Transgender Law Center’s legal staff—Client Advocate Danny Kirchoff, Staff Attorney Matt Wood, and Legal Director Ilona Turner—are hard at work every day helping defend the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people in California and across the country. While a large portion of our work goes on under the radar, with our legal helpline providing individualized legal information and referrals to more than 1,500 people each year, the majority of the legal department’s work focuses on the litigation of cutting-edge cases that have the potential to significantly advance the legal rights of the trans people through the U.S..
One example of those cases is Macy v. Holder, in which we won a groundbreaking victory from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April of this year on behalf of our client Mia Macy. Mia had been denied a job with a government agency after coming out as transgender. The agency claimed that Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, did not apply to transgender people. Transgender Law center argued successfully that it did. While the EEOC’s ruling was just an intermediate step in Mia’s case, allowing her to have her claims heard under Title VII, the decision was critical to advancing the rights of trans employees throughout the nation. We continue to represent Mia in her case against the government agency.
In another recent victory, Transgender Law Center helped Tamsyn Waterhouse, a transgender pilot whose medical certification for her pilot’s license was being held up because the FAA wanted her to undergo extensive psychological testing in response to her recent transition. With help from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Task Force, and Congressional Representatives Mike Honda and Barney Frank, we were able to get the FAA to change this burdensome and unfair testing requirement.
We are also in the process of litigating or preparing for litigation on behalf of trans people who have faced unfair discrimination for being who they are. Our cases are carefully chosen to advance the law in critical areas like healthcare and employment. For instance, some of our current cases challenge restrictions on access to sex-segregated jobs and gender-appropriate restrooms; seeking to define what constitutes illegal harassment, including the intentional use of the wrong pronouns to refer to a trans person; and arguing that exclusions for gender transition in health care plans are a form of unlawful discrimination.
Unfortunately, we often can’t talk about our legal cases while they’re going on because media attention could jeopardize a favorable court decision or settlement that would protect our client’s rights and create beneficial new law or policies. But once a case is over, we’re happy and proud to share our successes with you! In the mean time, know that the work our legal team does is making a difference every day for the rights of trans and gender nonconforming people and their ability to lead safe, healthy, authentic lives.