The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down a landmark ruling that many say is a bigger benefit to LGBTQ people than the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that granted same-sex couples marriage equality.
In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that firing someone who is transgender or homosexual because they’re not conforming to the gender norms assigned to them by birth and social convention is, in fact, discrimination based on sex. The majority decision points out that it’s impossible to separate the concept of gender (and gender roles) from sex.
For transgender people, this is a huge leap forward. It gives new clarity to their rights in the workplace and what constitutes discrimination or harassment where they’re concerned. In general, the ruling means that employers cannot do things like:
- Deny transgender employees the right to use a restroom that’s in line with their gender identity
- Force transgender employees to adhere to a dress code that fits the social norms of the gender they were assigned at birth
- Refuse to stop addressing a transgender employee by their birth name once it has been changed
- Purposefully call a transgender employee by the wrong pronouns or permit other employees to do so
- Refuse to acknowledge a transgender employee’s complaints about sexual harassment or degrading comments from other employees, clients or managers
Transgender people are some of the most vulnerable employees in the workforce, and they deserve to be free of sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination as much as any other individual. If you’re a transgender employee who has been subjected to harassment or discrimination based on your gender identity, find out what steps you should take next.