Sunday, November 22, 2009


Case law

The following are cases either involving trans issues or ones that have bearing on trans issues. Not all are actually considered case law in that some were not heard at the appellate level. Westlaw was unavailable to me, so citations are incomplete. These are VERY brief synopses of cases.

1. Bell v. County of Los Angeles, 2008…unreasonable searches of a trans inmate; the court rejected constitutional claims made by plaintiff; opinion was unpublished.

2. Birden v. City of New York, 2009…workplace gender discrimination; outcome pending or unknown.

3. Blatt v. Manpower, Inc, 2007…workplace gender discrimination…defendant wanted genitalia photos from plaintiff; outcome pending or unknown.

4. Boseman v. Jarrell, 2009…lesbian adoption issue; appellate court upheld trial verdict in favor of plaintiff; plaintiff’s adoption of defendant’s minor child is not voided.

5. Brant v. Chop Shop, 2009…sexual stereotyping, sexual discrimination, TITLE VII; plaintiff fired for alleged dress code violations; outcome pending or unknown.

6. Broussard v Park Central, 2009…gender discrimination allegations due to restrictive bathroom policy for patrons of nightclub; outcome pending or unknown.

7. Bumpus v. New York City Authority, 2006, gender identity discrimination on part of defendant against plaintiff; outcome pending or unknown.

8. Calewarts v Circuit Court for Brown County, WI, 2007, Birth Certificate amendment refused, court upholds; opinion unpublished.

9. Casillas v. Daines, 2008…discrimination charges stemming from refusal to provide plaintiff, an inmate in a New York penal facility, with treatment for GID diagnosis. Court found for defendant and state.

10. Cook v. PC Connection, 2008…workplace discrimination by refusal to hire; outcome pending or unknown.

11. Cordero v. Epstein, 2006…sexual assault charges dismissed after statute of limitations expiration and inability of plaintiff to extend statute under extenuating duress circumstances.

12. Cordero v. New York Post, 2009, libel allegations against defendant dismissed in its coverage of preceding case.

13. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, requirement of a picture ID in order to vote is upheld locally, by the Seventh Circuit and by the SCOTUS.

14. Creed v. Family Express, 2007…The court’s findings over a workplace discrimination matter are confusing and non-definitive. Although appearing to endorse TITLE VII protections on gender identity grounds, court actually finds against plaintiff for dress code violations.

15. Dean v. Dudley Perkins, 2006…workplace violation in the firing of an individual after the worker filed a sex discrimination suit. Plaintiff was trained to work on Harley Davidson motorcycles. Disposition unknown.

16. Doe v. Clark County School District, 2008…a TITLE IX case which federal court in Nevada dismissed for lack of standing.

17. Doe v. Knox County Schools, et al, 2009…Out of court settlement in a case involving student right to Internet access for LGBT subject matters.

18. Doe v California Lutheran School Association, 2008…California Appellate court upholds trial verdict wherein a religious school may expel lesbian students for violating religious code.

19. Doe v Yunits, 2000…Massachusetts court upholds finding for transgender student’s right to express her gender diversity under Massachusetts disability law.

20. Etsitty v Utah Transit Authority, 2005…TITLE VII issue involving right of transgender individual to transition, Plaintiff had been terminated for what company described as an “image problem”. U.S. District Court for Utah found against Plaintiff.

21. Farmer v. Brennan, 1994…rape of incarcerated transsexual woman. SCOTUS found for plaintiff on Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment grounds.

22. Farmer v. Caliente Cab Co, 2007…discrimination against plaintiff restaurant’s refusal to accommodate plaintiff’s desire to use appropriate bathroom. Out of court with settlement.

23. Finstuen v. Crutcher, 2007…10th Circuit upheld U.S. District Court in Oklahoma’s holding which struck down prohibition on lesbian and gay adoption.

24. Fuller, et al v. Thomas, et al, 2008…Court holds for Plaintiff in case where Defendant has alleged election fraud on grounds that Plaintiff, a trans woman, has misled and deceived the electorate. Georgia Supreme Court found that not enough votes were disputed to change the outcome.

25. Glenn v Brumby, et al, 2009…TITLE VII case against Georgia General Assembly for illegal dismissal of plaintiff based on workplace discrimination. Not yet disposed of.

26. Harper v Poway Unified School District, 2007… bizarre tables turning “non-decision” in First Amendment issue. Plaintiff wears anti gay t-shirt to school, which suspends him for not removing it. Plaintiff’s motion to lift injunction on wearing shirt is denied. 9th Circuit holds for defendant on grounds the shirt was disruptive. SCOTUS finally vacates the case, because plaintiff had graduated and it was, therefore, moot.

27. Hastings v. Seton Medical Center, 2008…Defendant hospital refused to grant breast augmentation surgery to trans woman; out of court settlement of $200,000 for Plaintiff and Defendant amended policy.

28. In re Brian L, 2007…A New York appellate court reversed a lower court decision mandating Sex Reconstructive Surgery for an individual who had received hormone treatment as a minor via social Services. The higher court held that DSS was not liable for two differing tiers of treatment.

29. In re Lipscomb, 2000…a trans child was removed from parents by state authorities in Franklin County, Ohio. Removal was on grounds that the parents were unfit since they acknowledged the child’s right to self determination regarding gender. Minor child remained in foster care, but actual situation unknown at present.

30. In re Lovo-Lara, 2005…USCIS & Immigration authorities’ Board of Immigration Appeals finds for couple, one foreign born and emigrating to the U.S., the other a native of North Carolina and a post-op transsexual.

31. In re O'Donnabhain , 2007…Defendant’s contention that she should be allowed to deduct costs of sex reconstruction surgery is disallowed by IRS. Case still pending before U.S. Tax Court.

32. Isaak v. Idaho Department of Corrections, 2006…unknown settlement by Defendant in case involving denial of treatment for transsexual Plaintiff.

33. Jane Doe, et al v Montogmery County Board of Elections, 2008…Maryland Supreme court rejects the referendum meant to strike down gender identity protections adopted by Montgomery County, MD. Said referendum circulated by anti trans individuals who collected bogus signatures and used despicable tactics to reinforce their version of “the bathroom issue”.

34. Jeanmard v. KT Maintenace, 2010…Workplace discrimination based on firing of Port Arthur, TX refinery worker upon notification of intent to transition. Case to go to trial in U.S. District court in early 2010.

35. Johnson v City of Memphis, 2008…Plaintiff, the victim of abuse at hands of law enforcement officers in Memphis, TN, sued for damages. Attack was videotaped. Plaintiff was found dead three months later. No suspect has been apprehended but murder remains suspicious. Disposition of civil suit unknown.

36. Kastl v. Maricopa Community College, 2009, TITLE VII workplace discrimination suit based on refusal by defendant to allow plaintiff to use appropriate restroom facilities. Defendant won due to plaintiff’s inability to rebut that her use of bathroom caused safety concerns.

37. Kerr v. Georgetown College, 2005…Undisclosed out of court settlement in unfair firing discrimination case in Louisiana college

38. Kerr v. City of New Orleans PD, 2009…Plaintiff filed suit after allegations a police officer threatened arrest because plaintiff, a man, was wearing a skirt in municipal court. Disposition unknown.

39. Lawrence v. Texas, 2003…Landmark case involving right to privacy, in one’s home, regarding sexual orientation. SCOTUS finds for Plaintiff overturning prior precedent in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick, GA, wherein homosexuality was considered a crime. Lawrence essentially removed illegality of being gay or lesbian.

40. Logan v. Gary Community School Corporation, 2008…suit filed by plaintiff alleging discrimination after school, refused to allow him to wear a pink dress to prom instead of a tuxedo. Court refused to grant motion to dismiss. Disposition unknown.

41. Lopez v. River Oaks Imaging, 2008…discrimination on grounds defendant rescinded job offer after discovering plaintiff was transsexual. Court ordered mediation; disposition of settlement was unavailable.

42. Loving v. Virginia, 1967…landmark case heard by SCOTUS which established the inherent right of interracial couples to marry. This case bears on many of the current disputes involving marriage equality.

43. Millett, et al v. Lutco, Inc., 2008, Plaintiff alleges harassment & discrimination based on gender. The Massachusetts court found against plaintiff and held that the eventual firing was based on performance, not gender

44. Morales v. ATP Health and Beauty Care, 2008, TITLE VII case in Connecticut based on gender stereotyping discrimination. The court found for Defendant on grounds Plaintiff had not sufficiently made her case.

45. Nakonsky v. WalMart, 2006…In Minnesota, Plaintiff alleged gender discrimination, $12,000 out of court settlement for Plaintiff

46. Nemecek v. Spring Arbor University,2008…Out of court settlement in unfair firing case by Methodist founded university in

47. Park v. Manhattan Mall, 2005…Out of court settlement for Plaintiff in suit which alleged discriminatory treatment in NY mall bathroom policy.

48. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 1989…Landmark SCOTUS decision that expanded TITLE VII protections to include discrimination based on sex stereotyping.

49. Prowell v Wise Business Forms, 2006…Pennsylvania TITLE VII case wherein Plaintiff was harassed, discriminated against and terminated by Defendant. Court found against Plaintiff, reasoning that TITLE VII did not apply to gender stereotyping and discrimination for trans individuals.

50. R.L. v...NJ, 2004…New Jersey case involving gender discrimination and child abuse. Court held that statute of limitations had run.

51. Ravenwood v. Daines, 2008, U.S. District Court in NY in a case involving Medicaid and Plaintiff’s petition to have sex reconstruction surgery covered by Defendant. The court held for the Defendant in its narrow interpretation of what “treatment” denoted.

52. Richards v. USTA, 1975, New York Supreme Court finds for Plaintiff and orders USTA to allow Renee Richards to compete professionally.

53. Schroer v Billington, 2009, Landmark TITLE VII case involving gender stereotyping and a refusal to hire after learning of Plaintiff’s intention to transition. DC Federal court finds for Plaintiff, expanding the Court’s interpretation of Price Waterhouse.

54. Seals v Old Dominion, 2008… TITLE VII case…workplace discrimination from dismissal of Plaintiff for “impersonating a female”; disposition pending.

55. Smith v City of East Salem, 2004…One of the first court opinions to expand Price Waterhouse to include gender stereotyping discrimination as it applies to trans individuals. The Sixth Circuit Court found for the Plaintiff.

56. Somers v Superior Court of San Francisco City and County, 2009…California court holds for Plaintiff in case involving right of trans individuals to amend California birth certificates to reflect transition.

57. Spencer v. Idaho Department of Corrections, 2006…unknown out of court settlement in case regarding treatment of trans inmates in Idaho.

58. Susan Startzell, et al v City of Philadelphia, et al, 2008…First Amendment case involving right to protest against an LGBT function. Court found for Defendant and stated that Phila. PD had the right to arrest protestors, not for the content of their speech, but for the manner in which that free speech was delivered.

59. Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, 1985, Seventh Circuit TITLE VII case…court held to restricted interpretation of TITLE VII and found against Plaintiff in this gender discrimination case.

60. White v. U.S., 2008, D.C. Court of Appeals holds for Defendant in Plaintiff’s attempt to abrogate enhanced sentencing given him in his capacity as prison guard after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a trans prisoner.

61. Wicks-Perez v. Burlington Coat Factory, 2009… workplace discrimination suit based on harassment of trans employee. Disposition unknown.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


There are several fundamental themes that always seem to repeat themselves in trans matters: if the bathroom issue is most insidious, then the battle over language and nomenclature is surely close behind. In his latest book, Dan Brown has drawn attention to the latter.

Although I am neither a freemason nor a Rosicrucian, I will admit to having a lay interest in the history of religions as it relates to the so-called ancient mysteries. Dan Brown has written amply on the subject in his novels Angels and Demons, and of course, The DaVinci Code. His latest book, The Lost Symbol, explores similar subject matter liberally, some would say, but not too far from what my lay reading of the literature would support.

He manages, however, to make a “fine mess of it all” in one particularly inarticulate passage. In his books, Mr. Brown often attests to the accuracy of details within his narratives. Sadly, his use of the word ‘transgendering” is completely erroneous, poorly investigated and will only feed the fires of those who say he has thoroughly misrepresented the truth. He goes on to compare being transgender to tattooing and alleged bodily mutilations, setting him in rather sad company regarding his ignorance of what it means to be transgender.

The fact of the matter is there is no such thing as “transgendering”. Being transgender is not a process, a person does not “become” trans, they ARE trans. I often encounter those who insist on using the expression “transgenders”, as though people who express gender diversity are merely things to be described, categorized and pigeonholed. Even the use of the word transgender raises hackles on the necks of some because they feel they are being erroneously tagged. This is not necessarily how they self identify. The shoddy use of language both within and without the trans world is rampant and has become a kind of “prison of our own devise”, that enigmatic Jim Morrison lyric.

As if it isn’t bad enough that we must deal with the problem of incorrect pronoun usage by the media, the invective of neo-fundamentalists and their straw-man arguments used to validate their baseless claims, and the academically shabby allegations of those clinicians who fabricate diagnoses, other verbal expressions keep us trapped in this prison of words. Some are those we use ourselves; some are words used by others. I, too, am not immune to stepping in the proverbial mess. Readers of last month’s column called me on the carpet for, by all appearances, piggybacking trans issues onto those of persons with intersex conditions. I DO recognize and differentiate trans issues from intersex issues and I apologize for using less than critical judgment in my choice of words. I’ll explore the subject more next month. The point is that well-intentioned writers need to be attentive, sensitive and must educate themselves. That includes me…and Dan Brown. Those who are not well intentioned will get whatever slings and arrows are due them.

We experience life as individuals. Some of those experiences are ones we may share. Others are ours alone. Each person’s experiences help to define how they see themselves and how they see themselves existing in the world. Each individual solely is entitled to decide in both cases. All too often, however, someone other than the individual is doing the defining. The intersection of how we define ourselves and how we define each other is where we encounter problems. Misunderstanding and miscommunication invariably ensue. Use of broad categories by non-trans persons to unduly categorize, label and delimit what it means existentially to be gender diverse is unacceptable. The same goes for persons who, themselves, ARE gender diverse. Attempts to homogenize the trans experience often serve only to alienate us from each other. The umbrella metaphor is not helpful when used to excess. Remember…attentive, sensitive, educated.

Western civilization’s penchant for binding labels and definitions is a binary legacy of patriarchal thinking which, by itself, has become dogmatic, anachronistic and obsolete. One might suspect from its dominance that this defining bestows some sort innate knowledge. This is seldom the case. As I am sure Dan Brown knows from his study of ancient mysteries, there is much wisdom that draws upon matriarchal consciousness and women’s arts. Is it not possible that well-balanced human beings need a mixture of both patriarchal and matriarchal worldviews?

Clearly, we (myself included) see red when others attempt to pigeon hole our experiences or to, willy-nilly, lump us all into identical categories. Labels, although by all appearance convenient, quite often become traps. They lead others to erroneous conclusions that can be, at best, a nuisance, and, at worst, deprive a person of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Yet, is it not conceivable that we lose our way when we pursue a divisive agenda within this group of loosely affiliated individuals who, for one reason or another, have experienced societal dissonance? We have much in common with each other, despite our differences. Overreactions run rampant because we allow ourselves to personalize so much. We need some kind of balance between practical and ideal, perceiver and perception, personal and universal, as well as matriarchal and patriarchal. This might be possible if we could only get past our agendas, which, for whatever reasons, keep us trapped in the prisons of our own devise.