Legal issues

Part of the 'Real Life Test' of cross-gender living includes employment in the desired gender role. However, transsexuals may be the object of employment discrimination based on their transsexualism. In the United States transsexuals are not given legal protection against discrimination under Title VII, the federal antisex discrimination law.(32) Other potential sources of protection such as the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically exclude them. In the United Kingdom, in 1997, a ruling on an English case before the European Court of Justice held that antisex discrimination law, to which all European Union members were subject, did include transsexuals. Thus discrimination in employment was illegal sex discrimination.(33)

Changing sex on one's birth certificate can be an important step in the life of the postoperative transsexual. In its absence, the person's legal sex may remain in the preoperative status, and pose obstacles to a full life after treatment. Marriage is a key issue here. In the United Kingdom, postoperative transsexuals cannot have a new birth certificate issued and change their legal sex. Thus a postoperative male-to-female transsexual cannot marry a male and a female-to-male transsexual cannot marry a female. Efforts to have the United Kingdom law declared in violation of the Human Rights Charter before the European Court have failed. (34) In the United States more than half the states permit birth certificate change, as do most Western European countries. (32)

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