In a little over a week, there have been three major actions in the courts that threaten the rights of the transgender community. Two federal courts denied discrimination protections to transgender, while another lawsuit filed against the federal government looks to do more damage. Here is a recap of the three most recent assaults on the civil rights of transgender people:
- A Federal court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows a business to discriminate in employment— On August 18, a federal judge ruled that a Michigan funeral home had the right to fire a transgender woman because of the owner's religious beliefs. The court held that the funeral home’s actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—one of the nation’s most important civil rights laws— but that RFRA trumped the Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination.
- A Federal district court stopped the government from instituting protections for transgender schoolchildren— On August 21, a federal district judge issued a ruling in a case that Texas and twelve other states brought against the federal government challenging the federal guidelines released in May reminding public schools that they cannot discriminate against transgender children by refusing them the right to use the correct bathroom. The judge ruled that being transgender is not protected under Title VII, Title IX or the federal regulations implementing them.
- Texas and other states filed a lawsuit challenging federal healthcare regulations that protect transgender individuals from discrimination— On August 23, Texas and four other states filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government. This time they challenged the rules that implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender patients. The states argue that healthcare professionals should be able to ignore these regulations if it violates their religious beliefs.
These coordinated attacks on transgender rights using RFRA as weapon shows that we need the Do No Harm Act, a bill that will fix RFRA so that it cannot be used to discriminate in the name of religion. Ask your member of Congress to join Representatives Joe Kennedy and Bobby Scott in co-sponsoring the Do No Harm Act.