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Aimee Stephens has passed away

Community/Meta Discrimination

The Washington Blade reports:

Aimee Stephens, the funeral home director fired for being transgender and the center of a Supreme Court case that will determine whether anti-trans discrimination is prohibited nationwide, has died at age 59, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday.

Stephens died at her home in metro Detroit with her wife, Donna Stephens, at her side as a result of kidney failure and related complications, an ACLU spokesperson said.

An unexpected leader in the LGBTQ movement, Stephens was terminated from the job in 2013 at Harris Funeral Homes for being transgender after she announced she’d transition. Her case led to litigation that is currently pending before the Supreme Court and could see a decision as soon as this week.

The ACLU has more here.


  • 1. Elihu_Bystander  |  May 13, 2020 at 7:52 am

    AIMEE STEPHENS in the Title VII case in transgender rights has died from complications of kidney disease. Does this moot the case? or can her spouse intervene to keep the case alive?

  • 2. JayJonson  |  May 13, 2020 at 8:11 am

    I do not think it moots the case. Because litigation takes so long in this country, it is not unusual for a party to die before the case is settled. The case involves an incident that occurred in 2013! I suspect that the ACLU will petition to change the name of the plaintiff to the Estate of Aimee Stephens or to substitute Stephens' spouse as plaintiff, but even that may not be necessary, especially since the case has already been argued.

  • 3. VIRick  |  May 13, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    In a criminal case, as in the sex-trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein, one can no longer continue the prosecution against a dead person for the alleged crimes that they may have committed while still alive. In that sense, the Epstein case is moot. However, even in this matter, one can still continue to prosecute their estate, and all of the myriad shell corporations, to recover monetary damages for said alleged crimes that they may have inflicted upon their victims, as is currently being done right now here in the Virgin Islands, and where it is likely that the VI government will eventually successfully expropriate most of not all of Epstein's extensive real estate holdings as part of the damages settlement (which the government, in turn, will then auction off to the highest bidders, and use the proceeds to actually fund the damages award).

    On the other hand, civil cases have a life of their own. And for this, we have no further to look than a companion Title VII sexual orientation discrimination case, that of "Zarda v. Altitude Express." Zarda has been deceased for a number of years, but his estate has continued to press the matter. As a quick refresher:

    On 26 July 2017, in "Zarda v. Altitude Express," the US Justice Department argued in a major federal lawsuit that a 1964 civil rights law does not protect gay workers from discrimination, thereby diverging from a separate, autonomous federal agency that had supported the gay plaintiff's case. The administration's filing is unusual in part because the Justice Department is not a party in the case, and the department doesn't typically weigh in on private employment lawsuits.

    But in an amicus brief filed at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, while the case was under en banc review, lawyers under A-G Sessions contended that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination, does not cover sexual orientation. "The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination," says the Justice Department's brief. "It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII's scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts."

    However, on Monday, 26 February 2018, in "Zarda v. Altitude Express," a major ruling affirming protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers, a federal appeals court in New York City ruled that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a 69-page "en banc" decision from the full court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that Donald Zarda, a now-deceased skydiver who alleges he was fired from Altitude Express for being gay, can sue under existing civil rights law because sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

  • 4. ianbirmingham  |  May 13, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Actor's revelation about transgender son sends shock waves across conservative Egypt

    Egyptian actor Hesham Selim raised eyebrows when he disclosed in a TV interview broadcast on Al-Kahera Wal Nas Channel May 3 that his daughter, Noura, was undergoing gender transition.

    In the conservative patriarchal society, few dare talk openly about gender transition because of the stigma attached to gender nonconformity. Selim nevertheless, expressed support for his son's decision, saying, “As his father, I can only encourage him to live the life he has chosen.”

    Nour, who has yet to complete his transition, is facing challenges in changing his gender designation on his national identity card, Selim said in the interview. “Things are extremely difficult for people like my son. I deeply sympathize with families that are going through such an ordeal,” he noted.

    While Selim's revelation sent shock waves across the country, it earned him more praise than criticism on social media. Many activists commended his “courage” and expressed their support for him and his son.

    Members of Egypt's transgender community celebrated Selim's announcement as a step toward reversing the widespread antipathy toward transgender people.

    Kashif has gained a massive following chronicling her transition on social media and also advocates for transgenders' rights in her articles published on the Transatsite, an Arabic-language portal dedicated to gender identity issues.

    But Kashif has paid a price for her visibility, as she has been arrested three times in what she told Al-Monitor were “attempts by the authorities to silence me.” She recalled, “On one occasion in 2018, I was arrested at a checkpoint on my way to [the town of] Dahab, after the officer who searched my bag found my medical records and some dresses. I was taken into custody on the accusation of traveling with the intent of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.”

    In March 2019, Kashif was arrested again — this time over a Facebook post calling for demonstrations to protest a deadly Cairo train crash that had taken place some days earlier.

    “I was clearly being punished for my activism and was forced to undergo a humiliating anal examination at a public hospital,” Kashif said.

    Such examinations have been denounced by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms as “a flagrant violation of privacy and human dignity” and tantamount to "torture." Kashif, who has yet to change her gender designation on her ID card, was held for four months in solitary confinement in an all-male prison on charges including “aiding a terrorist organization” and “misusing social media by spreading false news on Facebook.”

    After her release in July 2019 pending further investigations, she filed a legal complaint demanding separate cells for transgender inmates in police stations and prisons.

    “Those who have not completed their transition should be separated from other prisoners to avert the risk of sexual assault at the hands of other inmates,” she said.

  • 5. Randolph_Finder  |  May 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Two comments.
    1) I'm "grading" Selim on a *severe* curve. If that was the response of a Candidate for Senator in a liberal US State, I'd be disappointed. For *Egypt*, that's *very* brave, and possibly career ending.
    2) I'm surprised someone is actually able to change their gender marker on an Egyptian National Identity card.

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