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Transgender people have made tremendous legal gains in the last several years. We live in a period of rapid social change, hopefully approaching a time when transgender individuals and our families enjoy the same legal rights and privileges afforded to other members of society. However, we are not there yet. This essay discusses the role medical professionals must play if transgender people are to achieve full humanity in light of legal developments in the areas of employment and family law. Medical professionals are at the heart of directing and implementing policies that have an enormous effect on the lives of transgender individuals. In a world of unpredictability for outcomes in cases involving transgender litigants, medical professionals can be influential in securing advantageous outcomes. Medical and professional skills are critical to the transgender community, not only for the specific medical expertise physicians and others provide to their patients, their patients' families, employers, and communities, but also because of the direct role medical findings and testimony play in the courts. Through a concise review of the pertinent case law, the Author articulates some of the ways in which medical professionals can also facilitate and enrich the lives of transgender patients and clients by formulating and supporting definitions and determinations of gender that can then be applied in a legal context. Part I of this Article reviews cases involving discrimination against transgender people in employment, credit, public accommodations, and housing. Part II addresses the state of family law as it has been applied to transgender people. Part III concludes by suggesting ways medical professionals can play an instrumental role in achieving favorable outcomes for transgender litigants, particularly in the area of family law.

Recommended Citation

4 Geo. J. Gender & L. 721 (2003)