Equal Protection and Transgender Rights

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7369441@N08/8594644828

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7369441@N08/8594644828

Throughout the month of May, we have highlighted civil rights law resources from the Law Library's print collection. Titles currently on display include Transgender Persons and the Law, Section 1983 Litigation in a NutshellAmericans With Disabilities Practice and Compliance Manual, and Sexual Orientation and the Law. We have also been celebrating the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation has been a source of inspiration for equal justice advocates for nearly 150 years.

The 14th Amendment has been invoked in a great number of historic cases including the trial of Susan B. Anthony (1873), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Loving v. Virginia (1967), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), and as recently as yesterday, Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, a case in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with important implications for transgender rights.

In Whitaker, a three-judge panel cited the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, arguing that anti-discrimination laws apply to transgender students. They upheld the lower court's injunction, stating that sex discrimination based on gender identity is unconstitutional. This decision, the first ruling of its kind by a court at the federal level, will protect the individual student at the heart of the case and could extend to transgender students as a class. By invoking federal civil rights laws, this ruling has the potential to ensure equality for all transgender people and prohibit discrimination in education, housing, and employment.