In a precedent-setting ruling, the EEOC last week ruled unanimously that federal gender discrimination law apply to discrimination against transgender people. The ruling held that discrimination against a person based on their gender status is, in fact, sex (i.e. gender) discrimination and prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964. Several federal courts have previously ruled that discrimination against transgender persons amounts to gender discrimination, but the EEOC ruling is particularly significant because the federal agency prosecutes and enforces discrimination laws and thus sets a national standard for their interpretation.
In Massachusetts, the state's discrimination law was recently amended to expressly cover transgender status. The amendment goes into effect July 1, 2012.