Aimee Stephens finally mustered the courage back in 2013 to tell her co-workers about something that she had struggled with her entire life: her gender identity.
“I have known many of you for some time now,” Stephens explained in a letter. Then she told them she had decided to have sex reassignment surgery and reject the sex she’d been assigned at birth.
“The first step I must take is to live and work full-time as a woman,” Stephens wrote. “I will return to work as my true self, ” she added, “in appropriate business attire.”
Not long after, she was fired from her job as the director of a funeral home. She sued.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider her arguments that federal civil rights laws barring workplace discrimination based on sex also encompasses gender identity.
“We have the same basic human rights that everyone else does,” Stephens said during a recent event in Washington hosted by her legal team at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Stephens’ case marks the first time the Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the civil rights of a transgender individual.
The outcome of her case and a companion case concerning whether the law also protects claims of sexual orientation could have critical implications for the LGBTQ community. The community is made up of approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgender and 7.1
million lesbian, gay and bisexual workers, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.