Aimee's Fight To End Transgender Discrimination Made Her an Icon
by Jeffrey Guard
UPDATE: JUNE 15, 2020: The United States Supreme Court sided with Stephens and other cases that enshrine protections from unjust employer termination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation. Here's a small excerpt from the court's opinion: "In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.
The fight against transgender discrimination has taken a tragic turn.
Aimee Stephens who was the central figure in landmark case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed away on May 12, 2020.
According to attorneys and family, Aimee’s wish in the event of her passing was for the court case to continue despite her absence.
Here are five facts you should know about Aimee Stephens:
Fact 1: On July 31, 2013, Aimee Stephens came out to her employer R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Funeral home as a transgender woman. She wrote a letter, expressing her truth and was summarily fired.
Fact 2: After being fired, Aimee decided to fight back with the help of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They sued Harris Funeral Homes in 2014, arguing that Harris Funeral homes had engaged in sex discrimination against Stephens. That case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit where they sided with Stephens. An additional appeal from the defendants made its way to the United States Supreme Court.
Fact 3: Aimee had a family, a wife named Donna, and a daughter named Elizabeth. Aimee was wedded to Donna for twenty years. They remained married before and after Aimee’s transition and was with Aimee as she passed. After Aimee’s passing Donna continued to advocate on her behalf.
Fact 4: Aimee has publicly stated she struggled with gender dysphoria and once thought about suicide. According to the Washington Times in November of 2012, Aimee went to her backyard holding a gun to her chest where she eventually realized there was another option, she could come out to her employer.
Fact 5: Her case, according to the Freedom for All Americans is the first Transgender civil rights case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. Aimee’s journey for equality has become a galvanizing force for both the Transgender Community and LGBT to push forward for equality and protections for all Transgender and Non-Binary people.
Here at the LOFT LGBT Community Services Center, we stand in solidarity with all the Aimee Stephens of the world. We are committed to equality and will not rest until everyone is protected. Come and join us, support our organization. Your donation will have a direct impact in the support and advocacy of our Transgender community.
Would you like to read more about Aimee Stephen’s case?
LINK to PDF: United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit: R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Funeral vs. EEOC (Aimee Stephens listed as Intervenor)
LINK to PDF: Supreme Court of United States (TBD)