Gender Dysphoria Is Covered Under Americans with Disabilities Act, Says Arizona Court.

Mathew Moldawer
Mathew Moldawer

A federal court in Arizona permitted to move forward a complaint alleging that gender dysphoria is covered under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiffs in the case alleged they suffer from gender dysphoria, essentially identification with a sex other than to which they were assigned at birth. They claim that Arizona’s law unfairly excluded them from participating in girls’ sports. The Arizona law requires participants to engage in sports that align with their biological sex and allows students or schools to sue for violating that ban.

The court concluded that gender dysphoria is a covered disability under the ADA. The judge found that gender dysphoria was not specifically excluded under the ADA, and to exclude gender dysphoria would “impermissibly rewrite what Congress has chosen not to write.” The ADA does exclude certain disabilities, such as “gender identity disorders.”  Gender dysphoria is different from gender identity disorders. 

The court also found that a major life activity of the plaintiff’s had been substantially limited by the Arizona law.  The life activity is anxiety, depression, and self-harm — a consequence of the law on the plaintiffs being limited in sports opportunities — which may substantially limit their major life activity. Accordingly, the court allowed the case to proceed.

The ADA, and similar laws enacted to protect individuals, are evolving. Employers and other institutions should keep apprised of the changes and consult with employment counsel to ensure compliance.

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