The American Medical Association (AMA) and other mental and health care organizations are supporting transgender individuals in demanding specific laws against workplace discrimination.
A joint amicus brief the American Medical Association Litigation Center filed alongside 13 other organizations asked the United States Supreme Court to recognize the workplace discrimination transgender folks face and the distress it causes.
In April, the Court announced it would be taking on cases that would decide if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender and other queer individuals under Title VII, which prevents discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has asserted it does, but the Trump administration has said the law does not protect sexuality and gender identity.
With the majority of the Supreme Court now conservative, the outcome is up in the air.
The document by the AMA brings a medical point-of-view to the argument, asserting that being transgender is not a defect and that it “implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.”
It also outlines the reality of gender dysphoria, a distressing condition many transgender people face when their assigned gender does not match their identities. The most commonly accepted treatments for gender dysphoria include gender-affirming counseling, hormone treatments, and surgeries.
The brief says transphobic workplace discrimination contributes to gender dysphoria for trans people and impedes access to and success of treatment, which, in turn, can affect an employee’s health and wellbeing. The AMA argues that because adults spend a significant amount of their lives in the workplace, specific laws against transphobic discrimination are necessary.
“Logically, experiencing discrimination in one of the most important aspects of adult life—employment— makes it nearly impossible to live in full congruence with a gender identity that is different from birth-assigned sex,” the document says.
Citing a plethora of scientific studies, the AMA asserts stigmatization of transness in society has severe effects on health due to the stress it causes, potentially heightening blood pressure and cortisol levels.
“Over time, the chronic and persistent stress resulting from living with stigma can lead to hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, depression, suicidality, substance abuse, acquiring HIV, and even death,” the brief says. “These health issues are the direct result of stigma and not the product of any inherent psychological impairments.”
Lower courts have been split on whether Title VII prevents discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.