The battle over the civil rights of transgender students has now grown to 33 states in a case that appears destined for the Supreme Court. 21 states have weighed in on the “anti-transgender rights” side while 12 states join the “pro-transgender rights” side after filing an amicus brief on Wednesday.
The civil rights clash began on May 13th after the Obama administration issued federal guidelines directing educational institutions to allow transgender students the use of facilities that are congruent with their gender identity, including restrooms, dorms and sports venues. The administration claimed that gender identity is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 on the basis of sex discrimination.
“In June, the group asked the courts to file an injunction on the guidelines, claiming they would burden their states and create a safety issue.”
At the time, 11 states led by Texas filed suit against the guidelines claiming gender identity is not covered by Title VII and Title IX. In June, the group asked the courts to file an injunction on the guidelines, claiming they would burden their states and create a safety issue. In addition to Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined the lawsuit. In the beginning of July, 10 more states filed an additional lawsuit led by Nebraska’s attorney general, Douglas Peterson. Joining Nebraska was Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, bringing a total of 21 states that are now against the federal guidelines.
In a surprising move, 12 states led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed an amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court” brief, in support of the guidelines on Wednesday. In the brief they provided data showing that when followed, the guidelines create no imminent threat and that they fall strongly within the public interest. Washington Sate is joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and also Washington, DC. The brief shows that 20 states currently offer explicit civil rights protections for transgender people while enduring no financial burden while doing so.
“the case in Texas has a direct impact on transgender individuals across our country.”
“Washington state is one of 20 states that offers civil rights protections to transgender individuals,”Ferguson said in a statement. “And I wanted the court and Texas to hear specifically from states like Washington and our experience with upholding rights of transgender individuals.” Ferguson also went on to say that “the case in Texas has a direct impact on transgender individuals across our country.”
As more states weigh in on the Department of Education guidelines, the case seems destined to be fought out in the Supreme Court. Complicating the issue is the court being short by one justice, where the decision could ultimately be split 4-4. Transgender civil rights have recently become a polarizing political football between Democrats and Republicans, with the states involved almost perfectly reflecting recent electoral maps. For now the stage seems to be set, and only time will tell in what looks to be the biggest transgender civil rights battle in America’s history.