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Transgender Equality & The Civil Rights Act

Photographer: Angela Compagnone

The LGBT community is celebrating Pride Month in style with a victory in the Supreme Court. In a 6-3 vote, SCOTUS ruled that LGBT people can’t be fired, turned away or disciplined simply based on their sexual orientation. Bold TV sat down to chat with Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the deputy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). This organization works to change policies and make sure transgender people have legal protections. And while Lehtinen is celebrating this legislative victory, he believes there’s more work to be done.


What’s next for the transgender community?

So, are people hopeful for the future? Yes! Even though the recent Supreme Court ruling was about employment, many people believe its content will eventually extend to housing, health care and education. For now, those branches of the ruling will take time as they move through the court ranks. But the NCTE is looking forward to changing more policies and helping more transgender people receive protection everywhere. The LGBTQ community is calling this decision a huge win, but what does this mean for everyone else? “When anyone is protected from discrimination, we are all safer,” Lehtinen says.


Changes that take an act of Congress

Before this historic ruling, there were no explicit workplace protections for transgender people in half of the country. For those fighting for total protections, what’s next? One of the big fights left is protection in public spaces. These can be parks, hotels, restaurants and even homeless shelters. The NCTE is working toward the Equality Act, which will take a literal act of Congress. But Heng-Lehtinen has had first-hand experience with the legislative branch. His mother, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was the first Latina elected to Congress. She supported her son when he came out as transgender. Heng-Lehtinen is confident and optimistic that his organization can accomplish its goals.

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