THE PETITION for TRANS JUSTICE

Thank you for watching Stephanie’s call to action

We hope this short guide will make it easy for you to create a 1-3 minute cell phone video of you reading your own letter for #TransJustice and then to post your video here on our web page. The topics appear below in bold headings. Just click on the topic that you want more information on and the text will drop down for you. We designed this so that can do something really important in the fight for trans and gender non-confoming civil rights and help you do in as little as 10 minutes! But don’t wait, the Supreme Court is deliberating now and will rule sometime this spring. The faster you act the louder your voice will be. Don’t be a perfectionist! Get your video letter done, video it on your phone and post it here TODAY!

Support #TransJustice--A 4-Step Guide

1. Compose a short letter to Sotomayor (or any/all of the Justices) asking them to rule in Aimee Stephens’ favor and support equal rights. Speak from the heart and share personal stories. Make sure to tie it back to what the Justices are ruling on: discrimination and employment rights for transgender and non-binary people.

 

 

2. Print your letter and record a short 1-2 minute video of yourself reading it. Use your cell phone camera and keep it simple. Watch other videos from the campaign for inspiration. Add a call to action at the end such as: “The Petition for #TransJustice will only work if our friends and allies join us. Make your own letter and video and demand our equal rights. ACT NOW.”

 

 

3. Post your video on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any social media platform you use. Make sure to hashtag #TransJustice and spread the word! And send the link to Stephanie: Steph4TransJustice@yahoo.com or message us on Facebook @LavenderDemsOC so we can amplify.

 

 

4. Mail a physical copy of your letter with your full name and address to the Supreme Court. Find the address and names of the Justices below. Old fashioned snail mail still really gets the attention of people in government!

 

You’re done!

Names and Addresses of Supreme Court Justices

*(Justice ______________ or Chief Justice Roberts)
The Supreme Court of the United States, 
One First Street N.E., 
Washington, D.C., 20543

* We suggest that you write an individual judge. If you wish to address the entire court you can only do it by sending a letter that is addressed to the “Public Information Officer,” or by sending a copy to each individual justice (e.g. 9 seperate letters). 
 

The 9 Justices of the Supreme Court


John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States

 

Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice


Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice


Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice


Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice


Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice


Elena Kagan, Associate Justice


Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice


Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice
 

We want you to write your Own and Personal Story, but if you want a template . . . here are some:

Non-Binary Petition for Justice

Dear Justice _____________,

I am writing because several of the Justices have signaled they may rule agaisnt Aimee Stevens, and in doing so deny transgender and gender non confirming people equal rights for years to come, simply because of unfounded fears about who can use what bathroom. 

So I want to tell you about something that happened to me (or happens to me all the time) and how this effects my ability to work and hold a job . . . 

    Beginning 
    Middle
    And End to the story (e.g. your story about workplace descrimination)

That’s why I am writing, I am writing to implore you to side with me, Ms. Stevens and the other 1.5 milion trans and non conforming Americans who demand equality. 

And to all that are watching, I need your help too. This will only work if thousands of us join together, write these letters, post them here on video and demand our rights. ACT NOW. 

 


Transwoman Petition for Justice

Dear Justice _____________,

I am transgender woman and I am scared. I am scared because I understand

So I want to tell you about something that happened to my experience in the work force. Before coming out I was  . . . 

    Beginning 
    Middle
    And End to the story (e.g. your story about workplace descrimination)

That’s why I am writing, I am writing to implore you to side with me, Ms. Stevens and the other 1.5 milion trans and non conforming Americans who demand equality. 

And to all that are watching, I need your help too. This will only work if thousands of us join together, write these letters, post them here on video and demand our rights. ACT NOW. 

 

Parent Ally Petition for Justice
Dear Justice _____________,

I am writing because several of the Justices have signaled they may rule agaisnt Aimee Stevens, and in doing so deny transgender and gender non confirming people equal rights for years to come, simply because of unfounded fears about who can use what bathroom. 

You see, I am the parent of transgender/gender non-conforming child. And my greatest fear is . . .

Beginning 
    Middle
    And End to the story (e.g. your story about workplace descrimination)

And it is because of my child that I ask you to side with her/him/them, Ms. Stevens and the other 1.5 milion trans and non conforming Americans who demand equality. 

And to all that are watching, I need your help too. This will only work if thousands of us join together, write these letters, post them here on video and demand our rights. ACT NOW. 


Proud Parent of Transgender/Non-Binary Child Petition for Justice
Dear Justice _____________,

I am writing because several of the Justices have signaled they may rule agaisnt Aimee Stevens, and in doing so deny transgender and gender non confirming people equal rights for years to come, simply because of unfounded fears about who can use what bathroom. 

I am not trans or non-binary and I don’t personally know anyone who is. But I do know people who have been . . . 

Beginning (give a historical example of a group denied it’s workplace rights)
    Middle
    And End to the story (make sure it connects with workplace discrimination)

So, as an American, I implore you to do what’s right and to stand up for the right of transgender and non-binary people to have jobs and to live free and full lives, equal to the rest of us under the law. 

And to all that are watching, I need your help too. This will only work if thousands of us join together, write these letters, post them here on video and demand our rights. ACT NOW. 
 

Want to Read or Listen to the Transcript of the Oral Argument?

Here is a link to the official transcript of the oral argument: 

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2019/18-107_4gcj.pdf

 

And here is a link to an official audio file of the oral argument:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2019/18-107
 

Want a Summary of the Case?

We all know that in the last 3 and a half years the rights of LGBTQ+ people generally and especially trans and gender non-binary people has come under a vicsious renewed assualt by the Trump administration and its allies. The case we are asking you to weigh in on, officially known as R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES, INC. v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, ET AL., is probably the most important battle in the war against us. It concerns Aimee Stevens and it will either confirm or deny the right of employment to every trans and non binary person in the United States for years to come. 

In 2013 Aimee came out as transgender and informed her employer, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, of her intention to start living full-time as a woman. Though she had worked Harris for six years and had received regular raises and positive performance reviews, she was fired for being trans as soon as she came out. 

Aimee took her case to the Federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which sued the employer on her behalf. Though a lower court ruled against Stephens, the 6th Circuit of the United States found that the funeral home had violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against her for failing to adhere to sexual stereotypes of her gender. The State of Michigan, joined by the Trump administration, appealed the Circuit Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court of the United State which heard the case on October 8th, 2019. 

Several lower courts had made similar rulings in support of trans and non-binary workplace rights under the Civil Rights Act so the interest of the Supreme Court in reviewing Aimee Stephens’ case was disturbing on its face. It indicated that several of the judges were at least open to questioning that interpretation of the law. But the oral arguments were, as Stephanie described it, hair raising. 

The case begins with the argument presented by David D. Cole, the ACLU attorney who represented Aimee Stephens. Mr. Cole was clearly explained that Aimee Stephens--who had been a valued and recognized by her employers for her exemplary work until she came out--was the victim of sex based descrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because her firing--which all parties agree was based solely on her decision to transition from presenting a male persona to presenting a female persona--was punished for not adhering to the employers beliefs about the way men were supposed to dress and act and the way women were supposed to act. Mr. Cole pointed out that this was descrimination that did great injury to Ms. Stephens and was based solely upon a sexual stereotype, as Mr. Cole noted a clear violation of Title VII as it was interpreted by the Price Waterhouse case and as it has been upheld ever since. But he didn’t get to far. One minute and 21 seconds into his brief, Chief Justice Roberts interrupts him to ask about bathrooms.

Though neither Mr. Cole nor the Trump administration lawyers representing the employer had made any arguments regarding bathroom policies, the Chief Justice wanted to go right to bathrooms. He proceeded to press Mr. Cole for several minutes on bathroom issues until Justice Gorsuch joined in on the same issue. This proceeded until the 7 minute mark when Justice Sotomayor joined Justice Gorsuch in questioning Mr. Cole about bathroom policies and seemed to be placing the feelings of CIS gender “women who are made uncomfortable, and not merely uncomfortable, but who would feel intruded” over the right to empoloyment of trans women who might still have “male characteristics.” Mr. Cole said that this case--that Aimee Stephen’s firing had nothing to do with bathroom policies. But Justice Sotomayor disagreed, saying that it was the principal issue because, if the case were decided in favor of Ms. Stephen’s right to work the “[bathroom] question is inevitable.” 

Justice Alito took a brief detour to ask Mr. Cole about Title IX of the Education Act and weather transgender had a right under that statute to compete on the team of the gender they identify with. Mr. Cole seemed to satisfy the justices in saying that it was a different concern resting on different issues. But then conversation returned to bathroom concerns with Justice Gosuch again asking weather the court should refuse to take on the issue of the harm done to Aimee Stephens and all transgender Americans. He suggested that transgender folks should wait on a new law to be written and passed because “something as drastic a change in this country as bathrooms in every place of employment and dress codes in every place of employment” He seemed to imply that to grant Aimee Stephen’s would produce what he said would be “the massive social upheaval that would be entailed in such a decision.” And their it ended for Ms. Stephen’s attorney.

The employers case was then taken up by two attorney’s, the Attorney General of the State of Michigan, John Bursch, and Trump appointee, Solicitor General of the United States, Joel Franco. Neither of them made arguments about bathrooms--which seemed wise given that three of the justices and the Chief Justice had already beaten that fear to death. Instead, Mr. Brusch led off stating that the owner of Harris Funeral Homes had a right to fire Ms. Stephens because he feared that if Aimee Stephens were allowed to transition from the male dress code to the female dress code his clients would be upset and his business would suffer. Rather than making any reference to a real or even potential social harm caused by Ms. Stephens or any other real transgender person who has transitioned at the work place, the petitioners argued that to grant Aimee Stephens a right to employment under Title VII would permenantly end socially valuable “sex-specific policies and even BFOQs [bona fide occupational qualifications] while undermining the protections that Title VII provides.” Several of the justices, including Justice Sotomayor, were extremely skeptical of this line of reasoning with Justice Breyer dismissively describing the petitioners hypothetical list of harms as the “parade of deplorables.” Indeed, Justice Breyer with occasional help from Justice Ginsberg and Justice Kagan put the Michigan and Trump government lawyers to the harshest test. 

It was Justice Breyer who seemed to hint at that strongest argument of the day in favor of the rights of transgender Americans. Acknowledging the argument that had been made by misters Brusch and Franco (as well as Justices Alito and Gorsuch) that Congress had probably not stopped to consider gay, lesbian or transgender rights in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he pointed out that the Act was a central part of an overall Civil Rights movement that sought to remedy hundreds of years of unconstitutional treatment principally against African Americans and to remedy injustice that had caused great harm but that while Civil Rights movement and the legislation it spawed was initially focused on the rights of African Americans it was built on a premise that no group should suffer such treatment. The Civil Rights movement and more importantly, it’s principal--that no group or class of citizens “should be discriminated against” that all people deserved “a degree of freedom” and that to deny these rights was unconstitutional--quickly came to encompass many groups including women, native Americans, the handicaped, gays, lesbians and transgender Americans and that court had come to view “these statutes” as collective “part of a civil rights movement that was designed to give, include in our society, people who had been truly discriminated against for the worst of reasons” and that these Civil Right statutes were part of a “movement that was designed” to “include in our society, people who had been truly discriminated against for the worst of reasons. And at that time, this civil rights statute, when it was passed, would have put in the category [of those who the movement and legislation were designed to help] transgender people, people who were suffering terrible discrimination.” He noted, with some sense of historicism, that the Court’s recent tendency towards a literal  interpretation of those Civil Rights Statutes, its new tendency to take a narrow, less inclusive view of the constitutional principals esposed by that entire body of law as well as the weight of case law since the 1960s is “an overwhelming fact.” Based on this view he asked “why we should not, other things being equal, interpret [the Civil Rights Act] to include gay people and transgender people now?” 

Justice Ginsberg and Justice Kagan supported Justice Breyer line of questioning about the broad thrust, purpose and understandings of Civil Rights legislation but perhaps most promising of all was Sotomayor, who suggested she may have been swayed, at least somewhat, to the important civil rights claims of transgender workers, saying: 


I think Justice Breyer was right that Title VII, the Civil Rights Act, all of our acts were born from the desire to ensure that we treated people equally and not on the basis of invidious reasons. And we can't deny that homosexuals are being fired merely for being who they are and not because of religious reasons, not because they are performing their jobs poorly, not because they can't do whatever is required of a position, but merely because they're a suspect class to some people. They may have power in some regions, but they're still being beaten, they are still being ostracized from certain things. At what point does a court say, Congress spoke about this, the original Congresswho wrote this statute told us what they meant. They used clear words. And regardless of what others may have thought over time, it's very clear that what's happening fits those words.

She then asked Mr. Francisco if that weren’t a clear mandate demanding that Court “step in.”  Mr. Franco, denied that the Court had that mandate and after calling Mr. Cole back for his closing rebuttal, Chief Justice Roberts ended the proceedings. That is where it sits, waiting for the nine justices to decide and write their opinions. Will you act today to make sure that your opinion is heard before the justices vote and decide based upon their opinions?