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Transgender Issues in the Law  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Prisons

Despite the constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment, transsexuals who are imprisoned have often been denied access to hormones, even if they are already taking them, and gender reassignment/confirmation surgery. However, in the last few years, several courts have recognized that hormone therapy can be a serious medical need for someone who is transsexual and required prison officials to allow for prescribed hormonal treatments.

Transsexual inmates also face a tremendous risk of physical and sexual violence from guards and other prisoners. In most instances, transsexuals who have not undergone genital surgery are housed with prisoners of their birth sex, which places male-to-female transsexuals, in particular, in grave danger of assault.

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Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has largely absolved prison authorities of responsibility for the protection of transsexuals who are incarcerated. In Farmer v. Brennan (1994), the justices ruled that prison officials are not liable for violence against a transsexual prisoner unless they have "actual subjective knowledge" that the transsexual inmate is at risk and deliberately fail to intervene.

Schools

Junior high and high schools rarely provide a welcoming environment for students who identify as transgender or who are perceived as gender different. Yet, principals, school boards, and state officials have largely ignored the hostile atmosphere for trans youth. As of 2006, only California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington have laws that ban harassment against students in public schools based on their gender identity or expression.

Many colleges and universities were likewise initially slow to respond to the needs of transgender students. A rapidly growing number of schools, though, are now seeking to protect the rights of transgender students through adding "gender identity or expression" to their campus nondiscrimination policies. In the decade since the University of Iowa became the first institution to amend its policy to include gender identity in 1996, more than 70 colleges and college systems have adopted trans-inclusive nondiscrimination statements, including the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, and all but one Ivy League school.

Hate Crimes

For more than a decade, approximately one person a month has reportedly been murdered in the United States because of their perceived gender identity or expression. Yet transgender people are rarely covered by hate crimes legislation.

While 46 states have hate crimes laws, only ten states include enhanced penalties for crimes committed because of perceived gender identity or expression: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

Conclusion

There is no denying that significant progress has been made in the struggle for transgender rights, especially in the last decade. Many courts and legislatures no longer dismiss transgender people and their claims of discrimination as ludicrous. But simply being taken seriously does not mean that transpeople regularly receive just and fair treatment. Even a modicum of equality still often remains elusive.

Brett Genny Beemyn

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    Bibliography
   

"Best Companies to Work For." www.tgender.net/taw/goodcomp.html.

Currah, Paisley, and Shannon Minter. "Unprincipled Exclusions: The Struggle to Achieve Judicial and Legislative Equality for Transgender People." William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 7 (Fall 2000): 37-66.

Minter, Shannon. "Representing Transsexual Clients: Selected Legal Issues." 2003. www.nclrights.org/publications/tgclients.htm.

Transgender Law and Policy Institute. "Litigation: Case Law." www.transgenderlaw.org/cases/index.htm.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Beemyn, Brett Genny  
    Entry Title: Transgender Issues in the Law  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated May 2, 2007  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/transgender_issues_law.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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