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A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: Transgender Rights in the United States

This guide focuses on the civil rights that various groups have fought for within the United States.

Introduction to Transgender Rights in the United States

Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. It is an umbrella term that encompasses nonbinary and genderqueer people, or people whose gender do not fall on the male/female spectrum, as well. In the United States, it is estimated that 1.4 million adults identify as transgender.

Unsurprisingly, transgender rights in the U.S. vary from state to state. To date there has been only one Supreme Court case regarding the rights of the transgender population. The transgender community has historically been discriminated against in the realm of employment, marriage, medicine, incarceration, and the military, along with many other aspects of life considered normal for cisgender, or non-transgender, people. Transgender people are many times more likely to experience homelessness, unemployment, and mental illness than their cisgender counterparts. The U.S. court system has offered sparse legal protections for transgender individuals and has in fact, invalidated the lived experiences of almost every trans person who has sought restitution for discrimination.

In 2020, the Supreme Court held that title VII’s employment protections extends to transgender individuals.


Notable Supreme Court Cases and Executive Policies


Selected Library Resources:

  • Kayla Bender-Baird, Transgender Employment Experiences: Gendered Perceptions and the Law, HD6285.5.U6 B46 2011
  • Transgender Family Law: A guide to effective advocacy, HQ77.9 .T73 2012
  • Paisley Currah, Richard Huang, and Sharon Minter, Transgender Rights, HQ77.9 .T716 2006


Additional Resources:


A short history of trans people's long fight for equality by Sammy Nour Youmes



Ending Gender by Scott Turner Schofield