In a court filing this week, attorneys for a Delaware County homeless shelter accused of wrongfully evicting a transgender woman urged a federal judge to dismiss a major part of the woman’s lawsuit.
“Jane Doe” filed suit against the Life Center of Eastern Delaware County on Aug. 13, alleging the shelter violated her rights as a trans woman under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Fair Housing Act.
Doe resided at the Upper Darby shelter from January to March and said she was evicted after she complained of mistreatment due to her gender identity. She hasn’t found stable housing since her eviction and spends much of her time at the William Way LGBT Community Center, according to her 31-page lawsuit.
A major part of Doe’s suit contends the shelter should have made reasonable accommodations for her disability of gender dysphoria by granting her access to gender-appropriate facilities, including the female dorm and female restrooms.
But in an Aug. 27 defense filing, attorneys for the shelter argue that gender dysphoria isn’t a protected disability under the ADA because it’s a “gender-identity disorder” and urge U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez to dismiss all disability-related aspects of Doe’s lawsuit.
Last year, in an unrelated case, a federal judge ruled that gender dysphoria could be considered an ADA-protected disability in certain circumstances. However, that case was settled prior to trial and the issue of gender dysphoria as an ADA-protected disability hasn’t been fully litigated.
Doe’s attorney, Justin F. Robinette, told PGN he’ll “vigorously oppose” the shelter’s attempt to dismiss the disability portion of the suit.
“ADA protections are very important, not only for my client, but also for the larger community. I’ll vigorously oppose any effort to minimize or eliminate those protections,” said Robinette.
Doe is requesting an unspecified amount in monetary damages in addition to remedial measures at the shelter so that all trans residents are treated consistent with their gender identity. She also has requested a jury trial.
Rufus A. Jennings, an attorney for the shelter, had no comment for this story.