Update on Transgender Rights under Federal Law

Along with the already existing federal and state laws protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of their transgender status, four additional federal agencies have recently recognized that sex discrimination includes gender identity or expression.

  • The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) stated that Title IX schools (1) cannot discriminate against transgender students; (2) cannot ask students or parents to produce documents to prove the student’s gender identity; and (3) must treat the student according to the student’s gender identity.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) declared that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination. At facilities under the GSA’s jurisdiction, transgender individuals should be allowed to use the restroom or other single-sex facility corresponding to their self-identified gender identity and should not be restricted only to single-occupancy restrooms.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that under the Affordable Care Act, discrimination on the basis of sex also includes gender identity. Therefore people cannot be discriminated on the basis of gender identity in certain health programs and activities.

Separately, the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Texas declared a nationwide injunction on the DOJ’s and ED’s interpretation of Title IX. Therefore, whether schools are required to comply with the above guidelines for transgender students is still in flux. Schools in compliance may continue as such, but the final requirements are to be determined.