Despite the momentum gained by this recent Supreme Court decision, the path forward remains murky. Recent tweets from the queer and trans community have highlighted skepticism around what constitute adequate anti-discriminatory practices in the workplace. For example, while expansions on the Civil Rights Act may protect workers from being unjustly fired, many are asking whether this ruling will prevent biased hiring practices which often preclude LGBTQIA+ candidates from being offered positions.
In a 2015 survey, 39 percent of respondents who were not hired for a prospective position listed gender identity or expression as the reason why. A 2017 workplace equality survey showed that one in four LGBTQIA+ employees reported experiences of employment discrimination in the past five years. And while these statistics are grim, it’s important to note that a growing lack of trust in law enforcement and legal protections render these statistics highly underreported. Diminished trust and long histories of discrimination, like all forms of social injustice, find their way into every public and private sphere—including work. After all, the workplace is not a vacuum; it is a microcosm permeated by larger structural inequalities and discriminatory practices.
The transgender community is at high risk of violence in the United States, with at least 14 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals having been murdered this year alone. What's more, Black trans women face disproportionate risk, a trend that has been referred to by many as an epidemic. Just last week (in the span of 24 hours) two Black trans women were killed—Riah Milton and Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells—prompting thousands to show up in protest around the country and highlighting the need to show up for all Black lives—including transgender Black lives.
As we continue to grieve the deaths of transgender community members, this Supreme Court victory is an important yet somewhat elementary step in the ongoing struggle to provide LGBTQIA+ people with protective legal measures and human rights. And yet, this belated win, for many trans activists, is bittersweet.