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Trans Americans Disabilities Act Victory

By Charlotte Robinson, August 17, 2022

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has affirmed that transgender people who experience gender dysphoria are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act & the Rehabilitation Act. Though multiple district courts have previously found that transgender people cannot be excluded from the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this decision is the first such ruling from a U.S. Court of Appeals. The ruling reverses a Virginia district court’s dismissal of claims brought by Kesha Williams a transgender woman who was incarcerated in a men’s detention facility, denied access to medical treatment for her gender dysphoria & faced persistent harassment by other inmates & prison deputies. Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director stated, “This is a huge win. There is no principled reason to exclude transgender people from our federal civil rights laws. It’s incredibly significant for a federal appeals court to affirm that the protections in our federal disability rights laws extend to transgender people. It would turn disability law upside down to exclude someone from its protection because of having a stigmatized medical condition. This opinion goes a long way toward removing social & cultural barriers that keep people with treatable, but misunderstood, medical conditions from being able to thrive.” Shannon Minter NCLR Legal Director concluded, “This is a thorough, well-reasoned opinion recognizing that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with gender dysphoria. This decision sets a powerful precedent that will be important for other courts considering this critical issue.” 

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