You have questions. We have answers. Check out our frequently asked questions on transgender rights and the law.
Housing, employment, and public accommodations
- Are transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) people protected from discrimination in employment?
No. Ohio does not have a statewide comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes employment protections for LGBTQ individuals. However, some cities have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances. Additionally, transgender and GNC people in any state who have experienced employment discrimination can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Are transgender and GNC people protected from discrimination in housing?
No. Unfortunately, there is currently no statewide law in Ohio that protects LGBTQ individuals from housing discrimination. However, some cities have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances.
Did you know? Nearly 20% of transgender and GNC people have experienced discrimination while seeking a home, and many have even faced eviction.
- What about federally funded housing?
Transgender and GNC people are protected from discrimination in federally funded housing. In 2012, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Equal Access Rule, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in housing and programs funded by HUD. A new rule released by HUD in 2016 broadens this protection to include shelters, including emergency single-sex housing.
Did you know? Following the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, over 100 bills were introduced at the state level around the country in an attempt to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people. Thankfully, nearly all of these bills failed to become law.
- What are public accommodations?
Public accommodations are considered to be spaces, publicly or privately owned, that are open to the public. They include, but are not limited to, movie theaters, hotels, concert halls, sports arenas, restaurants, other businesses open to the public (e.g. bakeries, coffee shops), non-brick and mortar businesses (e.g. photographers, event planners), gyms, medical offices and public restrooms.
- Are transgender and GNC people protected from discrimination in public accommodations?
Unfortunately, there is currently no statewide law in Ohio that protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in public accommodations. However, some cities have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances.
Did you know? Nearly 80% of Ohio voters are in favor of a statewide non-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. Only 22 Ohio municipalities currently have non-discrimination protection laws that include gender identity.
*Note, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have rolled back Obama administration guidance regarding protections from transgender and GNC students. There are, related, unresolved cases going through the courts. Please note, the following is not legal advice.*
- Are transgender and GNC students protected from discrimination in education?
While Ohio has no explicit laws preventing the discrimination against transgender and GNC students, federal Title IX prohibits discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. Some courts have interpreted this to protect transgender and GNC students in public schools, universities, and some private institutions. However, the state of Title IX protecting transgender and GNC kids is in flux, and there are cases making their way through the courts.
- Can Ohio students use the bathroom which corresponds to their gender identity?
Currently, yes. A recent federal case in Ohio was decided in favor of a transgender female student who had been barred from using the girls’ restroom at school. However, the case is being appealed and other courts around the country are also facing this question.
- What should you do if you face discrimination in school?
If the school district is discriminating against you, such as not allowing you to use the restroom that corresponds with your gender identity, you can file a complaint with the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). However, these protections are currently being considered in the courts. Please also see our “legal help” section on our resources page.
- Does Ohio ensure equal coverage for transgender and GNC people in private healthcare?
No. Ohio has no explicit policy ensuring equal coverage for transgender and GNC people who receive healthcare through private providers. However, the Affordable Care Act includes a provision that protects individuals from discrimination based on sex or gender identity. This currently applies to most healthcare providers, but this provision is being debated in federal court.
- Does Medicare cover hormone therapy and transition-related surgery?
Yes, but it is on a case-by-case basis. Medicare generally covers transition-related hormone therapy and surgery, but it is up to local Medicare Administrative Contractors to determine coverage of transition-related surgery on an individual claim basis.
- Are incarcerated transgender people housed in facilities that match their gender identity?
Sometimes. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed in 2003 to ensure the safety of all prisoners, but individuals are placed in housing on a case-by-case basis. This means that you may not be placed in housing in line with your gender identity. PREA does ensure that incarcerated transgender people be permitted to shower separately. However, many prisons and jails still do not comply with PREA.
- What about Ohio?
Ohio decides housing on a case-by-case basis. However, individuals are not housed solely based on their gender identity, so there is no guarantee they will be placed in the facility that corresponds to their gender identity.
- Do incarcerated transgender and GNC people have the right to be searched by corrections officers that correspond to their gender identity?
Ohio does not have a policy in place that ensures incarcerated transgender individuals are protected from intrusive searches, but corrections officers are trained on how to conduct searches of transgender and intersex people. However, this does not ensure that, for example, an incarcerated transgender woman will not be searched by a male guard.
- Do incarcerated transgender and GNC individuals receive their necessary medical treatment?
Not always. There is no Ohio statute or federal law ensuring incarcerated transgender or GNC people receive necessary hormone treatment or surgery. However, some courts have held that failure to continue an incarcerated person’s hormone therapy violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
What is being done? Some states, such as California, have or are developing policies protecting incarcerated transgender and GNC peoples’ right to receive needed medical treatment. Some courts are also forcing prisons to ensure incarcerated transgender and GNC people receive necessary medical treatment.
- Can transgender and GNC people serve in the military?
Yes. As of June 30, 2016, transgender people are no longer barred from serving in the military. This new policy was created following an extensive process that involved military leadership, medical experts, advocacy groups, and transgender and GNC military service members.
Did you know? Over 15,000 transgender and GNC people are currently serving our nation in the armed forces.
- Can transgender and GNC people receive medical treatment while on active duty?
Yes. The new policy unveiled by the Department of Defense includes coverage for active transgender and GNC military members to receive hormone treatment and transition-related surgery.
Did you know? Following a hunger strike, Army Private Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman, became the first service member to be granted transition-related surgery in September 2016.
- What about veterans?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides healthcare to transgender and GNC veterans but does not currently cover transition-related surgery. However, the VA is expected to align with the new policy released by the Department of Defense.
DISCLAIMER – The information on this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Every case depends on the specific facts and circumstances involved. To submit a complaint for review, please go to our Legal Help page.