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The trans lawyer who defended trans rights in the landmark Supreme Court case has a sobering warning

Lily Wakefield October 15, 2019
trans lawyer fights at supreme court

US actress and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox (centre), actress Sara Ramirez (left) and attorney Chase Strangio (right) pose as demonstrators in favour of LGBT rights rally outside the US Supreme Court. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty)

A trans lawyer who defended trans rights in a landmark Supreme Court case on October 8 has warned that the decision on the rights of LGBT+ workers will affect everyone.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who previously represented transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning when she was denied the right to transition, was also involved in filing an injunction against Trump’s trans military ban. 

Strangio was one of the lawyers defending Aimee Stephens in the Supreme Court, who was fired from Harris Funeral Homes in Detroit, Michigan, for being trans.

Strangio wrote an opinion piece for Self, in which he said: “To roll back protections for LGBTQ people under law, necessitates the narrowing of sex discrimination law altogether.

“And if the employers and the Trump administration win the day, it won’t just be trans people who find ourselves outside the law.”

Laverne Cox and Chase Strangio of the ACLU embrace at the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth on October 24, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Yes on 3 is the coalition working to uphold the Massachusetts’ transgender nondiscrimination law on the November 6, 2018 ballot. (Natasha Moustache/Getty)

He explained: “Ceding to the administration or the employers to define the contours of permissible roles and expressions for men and women in the workplace will lead to disastrous results for all of us.

“After all, without protection from discrimination on the basis of sex, all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation — so, including cis and straight people — can be lawfully fired (or not hired or denied promotions) for failing to dress or behave in a way that their employer deems ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ enough.

“This would make it lawful to deny a woman a promotion because she doesn’t wear feminine clothing or fire her for behaving too aggressively.”

Strangio described his experience of being in the courtroom as a trans person defending trans rights as “a combination of dread, gratitude, determination and sadness”.

He added: “As a transgender lawyer fighting for my own dignity and for critical protections of my community, it was both a defining moment in my life and a humbling reminder of how much work lies ahead.”

More: Aimee Stephens, Chase Strangio, supreme court, Trans

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