Issues: Transgender

NCLR has advocated for transgender clients and issues since its inception. Transgender people and their families face many of the same legal issues confronted by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and families, and often encounter additional obstacles based on stereotypes, misinformation and, in many cases, open hostility. NCLR is working to change that.

NCLR is proud to have been the first LGBT legal organization to launch a Transgender Law Project, which later became an organization in its own right, the Transgender Law Center. Today, we are a national leader in shaping transgender law, and our Legal Director, Shannon Minter, is recognized as a leading architect and visionary of the transgender rights movement.

news & opinion

Press Release

Governor Brown Signs Historic Transgender Student Bill into Law
08.12.13 (San Francisco, CA, August 12, 2013)—Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring that transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266—which goes into effect on January 1, 2014—was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country. It requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can have equal access to all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities.

Press Release

Federal Government Resolves Complaint Filed by CA Transgender Student
7.24.13 (San Francisco, CA, July 24, 2013)—Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced a resolution to a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of a transgender student in California’s Arcadia Unified School District. The resolution requires the school district to treat the student as male in all respects and keep his transgender status private.

Press Release

CA Senate Passes Bill Supporting Transgender Student Success
7.05.13 (Sacramento, CA, July 3, 2013)—Today, the California State Senate passed the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266), sending the bill that ensures transgender students have the opportunity to succeed in school to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, the bill passed the Senate with a 21-9 vote (unofficial). The bill passed the California State Assembly last month with 46-25 vote.

Press Release

Bill Supporting Transgender Students Goes to the Senate Floor
6.12.13 SACRAMENTO—Today the California Senate Education Committee passed AB 1266 (Ammiano), the School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that provides crucial support for transgender students, by a vote of 5-2. The bill will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities. AB 1266 is authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and is co-authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins.

Press Release

Maine Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics Joins Other Child Welfare Organizations on Brief Supporting Transgender Girl
5.3.13—Today, the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child welfare organizations filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in support of a transgender girl who experienced discrimination and harassment at her Orono school.

Press Release

School Success and Opportunity Act Passes Assembly Education Committee
4.17.13—The School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, has passed the Assembly Education Committee by a vote of 5-2. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Equality California, Transgender Law Center, ACLU of California, GSA Network and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, addresses the exclusion of transgender students from classes and activities, and clarifies existing anti-discrimination law to provide clear protections to transgender students.

Press Release

LGBT Groups Challenge Medicare’s Refusal to Provide Healthcare to Transgender Patients
3.29.13—Last week, several national LGBT groups and a cooperating attorney filed an administrative challenge to Medicare’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for transgender patients. Medicare, which provides healthcare to Americans ages 65 and older and younger people with certain qualifying disabilities, currently prohibits all forms of gender reassignment surgeries regardless of the individual patient’s diagnosis or serious medical needs.

Press Release

California Bill Will Ensure the Success and Well-being of Transgender Students
3.4.13—California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has introduced the School Success and Opportunity Act, Assembly Bill 1266, co-authored by Senator Mark Leno and Senator Ricardo Lara. The bill will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities.


Affordable Care Act Prohibits Gender Identity Discrimination
Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.
8.6.12—The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The clarification, issued earlier this month, came in response to a letter submitted by NCLR and several other LGBT organizations. The letter from HHS confirmed that the anti-discrimination protections in section 1557 of the ACA, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, include discrimination on the basis of gender identity.


NCLR Applauds Federal Agency Ruling Protecting Transgender Workers
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
4.24.12—Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws against workplace discrimination, issued a landmark ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender workers. The EEOC held that discrimination against a transgender employee on the basis of the employee’s gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under federal law. While a number of federal courts have issued similar decisions, this is the first time the EEOC has ruled on this issue.


NCLR Applauds Howard County Council For Passing Ordinance To Protect Transgender People from Discrimination
Statement by NCLR State Policy Director Liz Seaton, Esq.
12.06.11—The National Center for Lesbian Rights applauds the Howard County Council for passing an ordinance to protect transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Council voted 4-1 late yesterday to pass the measure. The county executive has 10 days in which to sign it. The ordinance goes into effect 61 days after it is signed and will be enforced by the Howard County Office of Human Rights.

Press Release

Federal Bureau of Prisons Makes Major Change in Transgender Medical Policy
09.30.11—A settlement was announced today in the case of Vanessa Adams, a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmate at FMC Butner in North Carolina, who has gender identity disorder (GID). Adams sued BOP in order to receive appropriate treatment for her GID. Adam’s challenge to BOP’s treatment of transgender prisoners has resulted in BOP ending its so-called “freeze frame” policy in which treatment for any person with GID is kept frozen at the level provided at the time he or she entered the federal prison system.

from the docket

Victory! (Massachusetts)

Adams v. Federal Bureau of Prisons et al.
Vanessa Adams is a transgender woman who is seeking medically necessary treatment for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) while she is incarcerated in the federal prison system.

Victory! (Idaho)

Gammett v. Idaho State Board of Corrections
Jenniffer Spencer is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for possession of a stolen car and a failed escape attempt that occurred when she was a teenager. Since she has been incarcerated in Idaho, Spencer, a transgender woman, made repeated requests—75 in total—for treatment for her gender identity disorder (GID), but the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) failed to provide her with any appropriate care.

Loss (New York)

Mariah L. v. Administration for Children’s Services
Mariah L. is a 20 year old male-to-female transgender youth who is a foster child in the custody of the New York Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), which has a duty to provide and pay for all necessary medical care and treatment for children placed in NYC foster care. Although all of Mariah’s medical providers agreed that surgery is medically necessary for her particular needs, ACS refused to provide it. Mariah filed a petition with the court asking for an order requiring ACS to provide her with sexual reassignment surgery.

view all cases for this issue

program highlights

Equal Opportunity for Transgender People

On August 27, 2008, NCLR’s Director of Projects and Managing Attorney Liz Seaton made a presentation on “Equal Opportunity for Transgender People” at the 2008 National Equal Opportunity Professional Development Forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and held in Crystal City, Virginia. The program covered the basics of transgender issues, and overview of non-discrimination laws, and an interactive discussion about best practices for ensuring fair treatment based on gender identity and expression in at job training centers and workplaces. In attendance were 100 equal opportunity and human resources professionals from around the country who work with Job Corps programs, programs sponsored under the federal Workplace Investment Act, and state and local human rights agencies.

click here for more information on the 2008 National Equal Opportunity Professional Development Forum


NCLR’s Legal Director Gives Historic Testimony before Congress on Need for Need for An Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act

On June 26, 2008, NCLR'S Legal Director Shannon Price Minter was among those who testified before Congress about the devastating and pervasive problem of gender identity discrimination. The hearing on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Hearing was titled "An Examination of Discrimination Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace." This is the first time that a congressional subcommittee has taken up the specific problem of discrimination against transgender Americans, and we are hopeful that this represents a significant step towards a federal solution to this nationwide problem. NCLR firmly believes that the LGBT community needs a unified bill, one that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the next Congress which begins in January, 2009 following the November elections. To see the hearing line-up, watch an archived hearing webcast, or download witness testimony, click here.

click here to download NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter's written statement to the Subcommittee (pdf)

click here to read NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell's blog on the eve of the hearing

The hearing took place approximately a month after the creation of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis. 2nd) and Barney Frank (D-Mass. 4th) and founded with a bi-partisan membership.

click here to read more about NCLR's work in securing a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

click here to read more about the hearing from

publications & downloads

Federal Gender Non-Conformity Cases (pdf)

Federal cases recognizing that discrimination on the basis of gender non-conformity and/or transgender status is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex.

Transgender Rights

The first comprehensive book on the transgender civil rights movement, by Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter, Editors

More Information About Transgender Healthcare (pdf)

A list of organizations that provide resources, health education, and healthcare with a specific focus on the transgender community.

California Transgender Family Law (pdf)

A fact sheet for transgender spouses, partners, parents, and youth.

Florida Transgender Name Change Kit (pdf)

A guide for transgender individuals seeking to amend their identity documents to conform to their new legal name and gender designation

Beyond the Binary: Making Schools Safe for Transgender Youth (pdf)

NCLR, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the Transgender Law Center created this comprehensive tool kit designed to help students, school staff, and other community activists who want to address harassment and discrimination against transgender and other gender non-conforming students


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