AFS Assists in Securing ADA Protection for Transgender Client

AFS partnered with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to assist in and secure a favorable client outcome in Williams v. Kincaid, a suit alleging lack of reasonable accommodation for gender dysmorphia under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Our client, a transgender woman, alleged that the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department misgendered her, refused her access to medical treatment, and placed her in an all-male detention center. A US District Court dismissed the case, ruling that gender dysphoria fell with the ADA’s exception for “gender identity disorders,” which are excluded from protection.

GLAD approached AFS to assist with the appeal to the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The amicus submission provided the Fourth Circuit with academic, medical, and scientific literature on gender dysphoria, and pointed to a number of US District Court decisions and policy statements supporting our client in this case. 

The Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in March 2022 and announced a landmark decision reversing the District Court ruling on August 16, 2022. In the 2-1 decision, the majority found that gender dysphoria was distinct from gender identity disorders and thus our client had a cognizable claim under the ADA. An en banc rehearing has been requested by the defendant-appellees.

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