Friday, August 7, 2015

New Title: Transgender Persons and the Law

Over the last few months, Caitlyn Jenner has shared details of her life as a transgender woman in media interviews and her reality television program I Am Cait. Jenner was well-known around the world as the 1970s star Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, and gained new fame in the late 2000s as a part of the E! television series Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which followed the lives of Jenner's family with now ex-wife Kris Jenner. In April, Jenner disclosed her identity as a transgender woman during an ABC News interview, and revealed her new first name and physical transformation on the July cover of Vanity Fair.

Caitlyn Jenner's story has increased the visibility of transgender persons in America. Surveys have estimated that about 0.5% of Americans identify as transgender, and a poll conducted by the advocacy group GLAAD indicated that only 8% of Americans personally know a transgender individual. Jenner (and other high-profile transgender celebrities, like Emmy-nominated Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox) may help lead to a greater public understanding of the challenges faced by individuals whose assigned sex at birth does not match their gender identity. The transgender community often encounters a lack of legal protection against discrimination in employment and housing; transgender people may also be at increased risk of violent hate crimes, and face unique challenges in the areas of family law, immigration, and the criminal justice system.

cover of Transgender Persons and the Law
The American Bar Association has recently published a new edition of its groundbreaking treatise, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2d ed., available in the library at the call number KF4754.5 .H69 2015. This text provides an overview of the legal issues faced by transgender persons, including summaries of case law and statutes on the subjects of identity documents, discrimination protections, family law, and personal safety. The complete table of contents, a foreword by Phyllis Randolph Frye (the first openly transgender judge in the U.S.), and a sample chapter can be viewed on the ABA website.

Additional information on the legal issues faced by transgender persons can be found on the websites of several organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union includes a Transgender Rights section on its website, which contains research reports on topics like health care and the military. GLAAD recently published the report Understanding Issues Facing Transgender Americans, an overview of legal concerns and available protections. Lambda Legal's Transgender section outlines legal rights of transgender individuals for a variety of issues, and the Transgender Law Center provides helpful links and policy pages for a number of topics.

For help locating additional materials on transgender persons and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.