In an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, gay, lesbian and transgender people gained protection against employment discrimination Monday under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Aimee Stephens, a trans woman from Michigan, was a plaintiff in the combined case. She was fired from a local funeral home after telling her boss that she was transgender and would present herself at work as a woman. While Stephens was present for oral arguments last Fall, she recently passed away at the age of 59.
Lilianna Reyes is the program director at the Ruth Ellis Center. She says that growing up in Saginaw and transitioning at 17-years-old, she’s experienced a mix of injustice and discrimination. On the ruling, Reyes says that Stephens created a legacy that we are all going to benefit from.
“I cried,” Reyes says. ”And I cried because this is a monumental day for LGBTQ people. It’s just really beautiful.”
Through her work at the Ruth Ellis Center and as director of the Trans Sistas of Color Project, Reyes emphasizes the importance of young LGBTQ people having a place to be protected, cared for and seen. “This particular decision allows young people who might not see the gender binary to dream a little bit,” says Reyes.