Does the Civil Rights Act protect transgender people?

Science is absolutely clear about something: Sex and gender aren’t the same thing. Biological sex is generally defined on a mostly binary scale. When a human baby is born, a birth certificate is filled out that lists the child as either “male” or “female” based on their biological sex — but that may have nothing to do with their actual gender, which can be fluid, contrary to their outward sexual characteristics or nonbinary.

So, does the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect transgender people from discrimination? Despite efforts over the years to say that it doesn’t, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) has finally weighed in. The recent ruling came down on the side of equality for transgender people.

One of the cases that prompted the Supreme Court’s ruling extending workplace protections against discrimination toward members of the LGBTQ community involved a transgender woman who was fired from her long term position as a funeral director just two weeks after revealing her gender status to her employer. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that it’s impossible to separate discrimination based on the fact that someone doesn’t adhere to stereotypes involving their biological sex from any other type of sexual discrimination.

In other words, you can’t say that you’re not discriminating against someone based on their biological sex and insist that they conform in dress, manner, speech, activities or anything else based on the arbitrary notions of what is “normal” or “appropriate” for someone of that sex.

This ruling is a huge leap forward for transgender people, but it’s unlikely to stop some employers from discriminating whenever they think they can get away with it. If you are facing discrimination in the workplace because you’re transgender, find out more about your legal rights.