Federal antidiscrimination law protects against discrimination on the basis of sex in employment, education, health care, and other areas. While New York City employment discrimination law specifically mentions gender identity and gender expression, federal law only mentions sex. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The ruling is already having a significant impact. Shortly after the court issued its ruling, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule that removes protections for transgender patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). A lawsuit against HHS argues that the rule violates Bostock. A federal court in New York stayed enforcement of the rule and granted a preliminary injunction.
Advocates for the rights of LGBTQ people in the workplace have long argued that discrimination against a person because of their gender identity is discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this view in Bostock.
Other federal statutes also prohibit sex discrimination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 bars discrimination “on the basis of sex…under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). The ACA prohibits discrimination in “any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance” on the basis of various grounds, including sex. 42 U.S.C. § 18116(a).