By Aleya Justison | Staff Writer
For many Americans, Oct. 8th was just another Tuesday, but for the nearly 11 million queer and transgender folks in the workplace, the events of this past Tuesday could drastically change the future of their careers. The Supreme Court heard three cases encompassing the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act’s ban against sex discrimination. Title VII was passed in 1964, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Now, the cases question whether LGBTQ+ individuals are also protected under this act. With two new, Trump-appointed justices on the court since the overturning of the Defensive of Marriage Act in 2015, it is unpredictable how the vote will swing. Twenty-three states already have their own protections for those in the LGBTQ+ community; however, this ruling will decide if queer and trans people must be protected at a federal level.
A decision of this caliber has caused protest nationwide, sparking voices from some of America’s most prominent LGBTQ+ figures. Notably, actress Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black has spoken out about this issue. “This is probably the most consequential case for LGBTQ+ civil rights that the Supreme Court will hear in my lifetime, and no one was talking about the case. I was like, ‘What can I do?’” Cox said in an interview with ABC News discussing her fashion at the Emmy’s: a rainbow clutch with the words “Oct. 8, Title VII, Supreme Court.” Her voice has evoked national conversation, receiving responses from others such as non-binary Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness.
However, Cox’s actions have not stopped there. Along with other protestors outside of the Supreme Court, Cox stood in solidarity, supporting those who are and could be affected by this case. “If we do not win this case, then the people, then our legislature, needs to make it clear that discrimination against anyone because of who they are should not be the way that we live our lives,” she said on Tuesday. Her powerful statement called to action more legislation surrounding queer and trans rights as this case is the first in United States history to involve those of trans experience. Specifically, one of the cases up for debate surrounds former funeral home worker, Aimee Stephens, who was fired after she came out as a trans woman. It is unknown when the final decisions are to be passed down.