The Supreme Court is set to decide if it will hear a case regarding whether individuals with gender dysphoria are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The case, Kincaid v. Williams, was filed in January and involves Kesha Williams, a former male detainee in Fairfax County, Virginia, now identifying as female, who is suing Stacey Kincaid, the county’s sheriff, claiming mistreatment and discrimination in custody. Williams asserts that his female identity was not recognized, contributing to his discomfort due to gender dysphoria.
The Supreme Court has previously made rulings on cases involving gender identity, most notably in 2020, in Bostock v. Clayton County. This decision stated that employees cannot be terminated due to discrimination over sexual orientation or gender identity. This broadened the interpretation of “on the basis of sex” in the nondiscrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the question of whether gender dysphoria qualifies as a disability under the ADA remains.
Williams’s claims revolve around his six-month incarceration in 2018 in Fairfax County facilities, during which he alleges he was moved from women’s to men’s housing, had his hormone medication confiscated, and was harassed by inmates and guards. He further states that his requests for privacy during showers and body searches by female deputies were denied. After his release, Williams filed a suit arguing that the county violated the ADA by failing to accommodate his gender dysphoria.
Sheriff Kincaid, however, refutes the ADA violation claim, arguing that gender dysphoria is not covered under the act. The ADA excludes from its definition of disability various conditions, including “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments.” Despite a U.S. district court agreeing with Kincaid and dismissing the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit later ruled in favor of Williams, noting that the definition of “gender identity disorder” has since been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association.
The case was scheduled for Supreme Court review in mid-June, with new decisions expected to be announced soon. A minimum of four out of nine justices need to vote in favor of hearing the case for it to proceed to oral arguments. This case’s verdict could potentially shape future rulings around the ADA’s applicability to gender dysphoria and transgender rights.