Federal appeals court rules gender dysphoria is covered by Americans with Disabilities Act

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court stated that gender dysphoria is covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act. This case was raised by an inmate in Virginia who said she was discriminated against after she said he had gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is defined as a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

Kesha Williams, who was held in Virginia prison for 6 months, filed a lawsuit after being held in the housing that didn’t align with her current gender.

“Though prison deputies initially assigned her to women’s housing, they quickly moved her to men’s housing when they learned that she was transgender,” according to the ruling, which said that while held in the men’s facility, Williams “experienced delays in medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, harassment by other inmates, and persistent and intentional misgendering and harassment by prison deputies.”

Williams sued several people who were linked to the prison, stating that the way she was treated was a violation of the ADA and several other laws.

A district court initially dismissed Williams’ case on the grounds that ADA’s explicit exclusion of “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments” from protection under the law. Williams did appeal the verdict, arguing that because the language of the exclusion is dated and vague, it was at the discretion of the court to determine whether gender dysphoria is protected under the ADA.

In a majority opinion, which was given by a panel made up for three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the court wrote, “In light of the ‘basic promise of equality … that animates the ADA,’ we see no legitimate reason why Congress would intend to exclude from the ADA’s protections transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria.”

“We have little trouble concluding that a law excluding from ADA protection both ‘gender identity disorders’ and gender dysphoria would discriminate against transgender people as a class, implicating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the ruling went onto say.

The appeals court reversed the lower court’s dismissal, justifying their decision by saying that medical understanding has now advanced.

“In sum, we hold that Williams has plausibly alleged that gender dysphoria does not fall within the ADA’s exclusion for ‘gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments,'” the ruling said.




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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