Transgender Rights & the Law

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? 
Maybe. Ohio does not have a statewide comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes employment protections for LGBTQ individuals. However, some counties and municipalities have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances. Additionally, federal law (Title VII) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII applies to private employers and state or local employers with 15 or more employees, and all federal employers. Transgender and GNC people in any state who have experienced employment discrimination in violation of Title VII can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Are transgender and GNC people protected from discrimination in private housing? 
No. Unfortunately, there is currently no statewide law in Ohio that protects LGBTQ individuals from housing discrimination. However, some cities and counties have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances.

Did you know? Nearly one-quarter of transgender and GNC people have experienced discrimination while seeking a home, and many have even faced eviction. 12 percent of transgender and GNC people experienced homelessness because of being transgender.

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?ACLU National is tracking more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills across state legislatures in the current legislative session (2023), including seven in Ohio. Thankfully, as of the date of this posting, these seven have yet 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 federal or statewide law in Ohio that protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in public accommodations. Some counties and cities have adopted their own non-discrimination ordinances. However, the Ohio Attorney General has taken the position that public accommodations can decide not to permit transgender individuals from using the restroom matching their gender identity.

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 36 Ohio municipalities currently have non-discrimination protection laws that include gender identity. 


Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) clarified that it interprets Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination to apply to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. There is, however, pending litigation in multiple court venues regarding transgender students’ rights under Title IX.  The following content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be 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, school districts in Ohio are required to establish a policy prohibiting harassment, bullying, and intimidation of all students.  Additionally, federal Title IX prohibits discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. This includes discrimination on the basis of sex. Some courts, the USDOE, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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. For example, 20 states, including Ohio, have sued to block the USDOE’s interpretation of Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The case is being appealed to the Sixth Circuit.

Can Ohio students use the bathroom which corresponds to their gender identity? 
It depends. A federal court in Ohio has recently decided that schools can choose to permit transgender students to use the restroom matching their gender identity. However, there is legislation pending in the current Ohio General Assembly, House Bill 183, that would prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom corresponding with  their gender identity. The bill would also apply to facilities at venues hosting school events (e.g. a sporting event) and overnight accommodations for school events. It is not yet the law. Meanwhile, litigation over whether transgender students should be able to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity is pending in several federal appeals courts.

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 for further information.


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. Ohio’s “Medical Conscience Clause” also allows health care providers or health insurance companies to refuse to provide or pay for a healthcare service on the basis of their conscience or morals. 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. Additionally, the Ohio General Assembly is considering legislation, House Bill 68, that would prohibit gender-affirming care for minors. It is not yet the law. Meanwhile, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Ohio) found similar bans on gender affirming care for minors in Tennessee and Kentucky to be constitutional. An appeal of this case is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Does Medicare cover hormone therapy and transition-related surgery? 
Yes, but it is on a case-by-case basis. Medicare generally covers gender-affirming care, but it is up to local Medicare Administrative Contractors to determine coverage of this care on an individual claim basis.


Are incarcerated transgender people in Ohio 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. PREA requires prisons and jails to screen individuals within 72 hours of intake for risk of sexual victimization or abuse, including whether they are transgender or gender nonconforming, but individuals are placed in housing on a case-by-case basis. This means that you may or may not be placed in housing in line with your gender identity. PREA does ensure that incarcerated transgender and intersex people be permitted to shower separately. However, many prisons and jails still do not comply with PREA.

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. PREA mandates that corrections officers do not perform searches of transgender individuals for the sole purpose of determining their genital status and require corrections officers to be 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 gender-affirming care. However, some courts have held that failure to provide an incarcerated person with some forms of medical care in accordance with their transgender status 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.


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 Department of Defense policy includes coverage for active transgender and GNC military members to receive medically necessary 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 gender affirming 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, although there is no timeline in place for when this would begin.

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.