The Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA) and 14 additional medical, mental health, nursing and other health care organizations filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to rule in favor of protecting transgender individuals from employment discrimination to ensure their physical and mental health.
The brief was submitted in the cases of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protections against discrimination on the basis of “sex” include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The AMA-led brief cites more than four dozen studies and papers demonstrating the consensus among health care professionals regarding: what it means to be transgender; the protocols for the treatment of gender dysphoria, which include living in accordance with one’s gender identity in all aspects of life; and the predictable harms discrimination poses to the health and well-being of transgender individuals.
The brief, intended to inform the high court, maintains that “being transgender implies no impairment in a person’s judgment, stability, or general social or vocational capabilities.” Despite this medical consensus, there is evidence of widespread employment discrimination against transgender people that exacerbates gender dysphoria, frustrates medical treatment, and impedes access to health care when such discrimination results in a person losing income or health insurance.
Many transgender individuals are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition that is characterized by clinically-significant distress and anxiety resulting from the incongruence between an individual’s gender identity and birth-assigned sex. Medical treatments are effective in alleviating gender dysphoria. But according to the brief, “employment discrimination against transgender people frustrates the treatment of gender dysphoria by preventing transgender individuals from living openly in accordance with their true gender identity and impeding access to needed medical care.”
Employment discrimination also reinforces the stigma faced by transgender people. The stressful environment created by stigmatization causes negative health outcomes and produces significant health disparities between transgender and cisgender individuals. In contrast, as noted in the brief, “living in congruence with one’s gender identity promotes well-being. Unsurprisingly, policies prohibiting employment discrimination lead to positive health outcomes in the transgender community.”
The Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies, a legal action coalition consisting of the AMA and medical societies from each state plus the District of Columbia, joined the brief. Other organizations that joined the AMA in the brief include the: AGLP: Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists; American College of Physicians; American Nurses Association; American Public Health Association; Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs; Endocrine Society; GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality; Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Physician Assistant Caucus; Medical Association of Georgia; Mental Health America; Michigan State Medical Society; National Council for Behavioral Health; Pediatric Endocrine Society; Society for Physician Assistants in Pediatrics; and World Professional Association for Transgender Health.