We just marked the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which sparked the modern gay-rights movement, with Pride events in New York City and San Francisco. The events featured transgender celebrities Laverne Cox and Janet Mock as grand marshals; the symbolic inclusion was an attempt by Pride organizers to signal trans-inclusion.
The legal landscape for LGBT people today is quickly changing and hard to predict, but the trend over the last few years has been overwhelmingly positive—from the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 being ruled unconstitutional, to the growing legion of states that have come to recognize same-sex marriage either by legislation or litigation. However, the work is far from done and marriage equality is only one front of the war—and potentially not even the most important.
What is truly at the center of the LGBT human-rights movement is the effort to advance state and federal legislation protecting people from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The effort has crystallized around the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1994 except one. If, after 20 years of congressional limbo, it’s signed into law, ENDA would bar employers from firing or not hiring someone because of their “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Sports are often a mirror of society — the good and the bad. Yet while sports is often the one area where talent overrides racial, gender, and religious biases and prejudices, transgender athletes are still battling for acceptance.
A recent lawsuit filed by a California woman against CrossFit illustrates the challenge that transgender athletes face when attempting to compete in sexually divided sports. Chloie Jonsson, a personal trainer, charges the CrossFit company with discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition for prohibiting her from competing in a strength competition as a female. She is seeking $2.5 million in damages.
Ms. Jonsson’s struggle to compete as a woman after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery and hormone treatment raises many difficult legal questions about how athletic organizations should handle transgender athletes’ requests to compete in a given gender classification. To answer some of those questions I turned to the top LGBT lawyer in Philadelphia, Angela Giampolo. Ms. Giampolo, who runs PhillyGayLawyer.com, specializes in Corporate Law, Real Estate, International Law (Asia and Africa), Civil Rights, LGBT Law, and Estate Planning.
Will 2014 be the year when opponents of progress will finally stand alone on the wrong side of history? The forecast looks cloudy, at best. But as I look back at 2013—the battles we’ve won and the battles we’ve lost—I see tremendous potential for advances in LGBT equality in the New Year.
It is always difficult to quantify progress in struggles for increased basic human rights. Looking at 2013 cumulatively, though, there is no doubt that the United States is picking up momentum and moving toward LGBT equality faster than ever.
Very few people know the ramifications, consequences and freedoms that come with a birth certificate.
Let’s say for a minute that you are a transgender person — an individual who was born the wrong gender. You’ve seen a doctor and received hormone-replacement therapy, opting not to get gender reassignment for your personal reasons. The day you’ve been waiting for has finally come where you get to update your legal documentation to reflect who you are. Perhaps you hire a lawyer to help you navigate the arduous and antiquated laws of legally changing your name, or you seek out the assistance of one of our local nonprofits like Mazzoni Center. You get an affidavit from your doctor that confirms your hormone-replacement therapy, in order to change your records with the U.S. State Department. And yet, when it comes time to change the ultimate form of identification — your birth certificate — you are unequivocally unable to do so without undergoing gender-reassignment surgery.
The birth certificate is where all forms of identification originate and it is considered to be the gold standard of documentation.