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Mar 09

Trans Rights and the Future of the Civil Rights Movement

By Brian S. Kabateck

March 9, 2018

When the Civil Rights movement began decades ago, it was a battle for people of color to gain the equality they deserved. Today, as the movement has progressed, trans rights dominate headlines as governments, businesses, and individuals wrestle with gender identity and related issues.

While transgender rights are a relatively new concept in terms of the specifics, the concepts of equality under the law are not. However, these rights are often under attack throughout the country. For example:

On a state level, some state houses are working to suppress transgender rights. In the last six months, ten states have introduced legislation that would make life increasingly difficult for transgender people, including students who are simply attempting to use a campus restroom that will match his/her gender identity. In South Dakota, some conservative lawmakers are proposing a bill that would bar public school teachers from even mentioning gender identity or gender expression to students until they are in the eighth grade. In New Hampshire, there is a proposed bill that would have made providing transition-related medical to a minor a form of child abuse (although that bill died in committee).

On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that it will no longer be investigating civil rights complaints from any transgender students who claim they were prohibited from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. The current administration’s view is that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity which is at odds with the previous administration’s interpretation.

California is one of the states on the forefront or protecting the rights of all citizens, including individuals within the trans community. A law passed in 2017, SB 396, requires all California employers to post a “Transgender Rights in the Workplace” poster starting January 1 of this year. The bill also requires sexual harassment training to include a larger component regarding gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Nationally, the lack of legal clarity is causing chaos in everyday walks of life. For example, in Texas, a transgender boy won the Texas girls 6A wrestling championship because of a law in Texas requiring individuals to compete as the gender on his/her birth certificate. So even though Mack Beggs identifies as a male, is receiving low doses of testosterone for the gender transition process, he had to wrestle against girls. In reality, the Texas legislature created this quagmire by restricting the rights of someone like Beggs who would much rather wrestle boys but who is prohibited by law from doing so.

The battle for transgender rights, like all civil rights battles, is ongoing. No community, whether it be African American, Latino or LGBTQ, is satisfied with the current state of things, and so the battle continues. Employees, members of the military and others will continue to fight for the rights of the trans community, and attorneys like myself will always be there in the thick of that fight.

The attorneys at Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP have honed specialized skills in handling employment law matters including workplace discrimination. Workplace discrimination against transgender people is against the law. If you or a loved one are experiencing workplace discrimination, give one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP a call today to learn more about recovering damages and to explore your options.

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