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Glenn v. Brumby - 663 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2011)

Rule:

All persons, whether transgender or not, are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender stereotype. Because these protections are afforded to everyone, they cannot be denied to a transgender individual. The nature of the discrimination is the same; it may differ in degree but not in kind, and discrimination on this basis is a form of sex-based discrimination that is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause

Facts:

Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn claimed that Sewell R. Brumby fired her because of sex discrimination. The district court granted summary judgment in Glenn's favor on the claim violating the Equal Protection Clause. Glenn also claimed that her constitutional rights were violated because Brumby terminated her employment due to her medical condition, known as Gender Identity Disorder. The district court ruled against Glenn on this claim, granting summary judgment to Brumby. Brumby testified at his deposition that he fired Glenn because he considered it inappropriate for her to appear at work dressed as a woman and that he found it unsettling and unnatural that Glenn would appear wearing women's clothing. Brumby admitted that his decision to fire the employee was based on the sheer fact of the transition. Brumby appealed from an adverse summary judgment in favor of Glenn on her complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 for alleged violations of her rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Issue:

Does discriminating against someone on the basis of his or her gender non-conformity constitute sex-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

Brumby’s testimony provided ample direct evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Brumby acted on the basis of Glenn’s gender non-conformity. Brumby advanced no reason that could qualify as a governmental purpose, much less an important governmental purpose, and even less than that, a sufficiently important governmental purpose was achieved by firing Glenn because of her gender non-conformity. All persons, whether transgender or not, are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender stereotype. Because these protections are afforded to everyone, they cannot be denied to a transgender individual. The nature of the discrimination is the same; it may differ in degree but not in kind, and discrimination on this basis is a form of sex-based discrimination that is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause

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