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The United States’ legal history shows a record of minorities being disenfranchised simply because of who they are. Humans do not have control over certain features, such as race, nationality, sex, gender, or physical ability. However, those who fall outside the “norm” of all of these things are treated as if they do, as if they choose to inhabit a specific race, sex, or disabled body. Given that lawyers and judges are just as much social beings as everyone else, they are not immune to these prejudices. Therefore, these sentiments often linger in courtrooms and are used in arguments to deny peoples some of their most basic rights.

People within the transgender community tend to fall outside of society’s neatly constructed gender binary and, like so many other groups, face marginalization in various areas of social life for being different. From education to employment and marriage to incarceration, the trans community encounters discrimination almost every step of the way. In attempts to remedy these wrongs, many transgendered individuals have begun turning to litigation in recent years. There has been, and continues to be, a particularly high volume of cases filed regarding employment discrimination. While discrimination still runs rampant throughout society, the purpose of this paper is to introduce a brief history of the transgender movement and trace the extent to which four decades of litigation have redefined sex and subsequently improved employment rights for transgendered citizens in the United States of America.

Award Name

2016 Douglas A. Feldman LGBT Paper Award

Paper Title

Transgender Employment Rights, Discrimination & Litigation: Expanding Understandings and Opening Doors


The Douglas A. Feldman LGBT Paper Award was created to award undergraduate students who write an academic research paper, either original research or a review of literature, focusing on the social and cultural experiences of LBGT individuals.