SCOTUS’ big Title VII case
Harris Family Funeral Homes centers on Aimee Stephens (born Anthony), who started working at a Detroit-area funeral home as a man; and, after six years of employment, transitioned to presenting as a woman. That meant following the funeral home’s dress code for women (dress or skirt) rather than that for men (suit with trousers). Two weeks later, the manager, Thomas Rost, fired Stephens, in part because, as the Vox article has it, she “was no longer going to represent [herself] as a man. [She] wanted to dress as a woman.” The square brackets embedded in this quotation were inserted by Vox, not me, because Rost used male pronouns to describe the person whom he had known and worked with for six years as a man—but Vox did not wish to repeat this act of “misgendering.”
The position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), along with various other civil-rights bodies such as the American Civil Liberties Union, is that Stephens suffered discrimination because of being trans rather than “cis” (i.e., non-trans), and that this should count as sex discrimination, as understood under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They argue, roughly, that Stephens is being penalised for being the “wrong” sort of woman—much as women in earlier cases won recompense after they were fired for not wearing high heels or enough makeup. The funeral home, supported by amicus briefs—including one from the Women’s Liberation Front or WoLF, a radical-feminist group—counter that Stephens is not, as the term should be understood under Title VII, a woman at all. Stephens was fired for behaving in a way that would have got any male fired. No discrimination occurred.
Helen Joyce, Understanding the Propaganda Campaign Against So-called ‘TERFs’, authored that nice summary, and the rest of her story is pretty nice, too.