Transgender woman at center of landmark Supreme Court case dead at 59
The Michigan woman at the center of a landmark transgender rights case pending before the US Supreme Court died on Tuesday after battling kidney disease for several years. She was 59.
Aimee Stephens took her discrimination fight against her ex-employer all the way to the high court — but will not be alive to hear its decision, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented her.
“Aimee didn’t set out to be a hero and a trailblazer, but she is one,” the ACLU said in a statement announcing Stephens’ death.
“We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to justice for all people, and her dedication to the trans community.”
In 2013, Stephens was fired from her job as a funeral director after telling her boss that she had struggled with gender identity issues almost her whole life and identified as a woman.
She filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the funeral home on her behalf.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2018 that Aimee was unlawfully fired and that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people.
Her case was argued before the justices in October, and she went to hear oral arguments in a wheelchair. A ruling is expected in July.
“Aimee is an inspiration. She has given so many hope for the future of equality for LGBTQ people in our country, and she has rewritten history,” Stephens’ wife, Donna, said in a statement to The Detroit News.
“The outpouring of love and support is our strength and inspiration now.”
Stephens developed kidney disease about five years ago and required frequent dialysis, according to a GoFundMe page set up by her family last week to help pay for hospice care and funeral services.
“Being fired from her employer caused an immediate financial strain, leading her spouse Donna to take on several jobs,” the page says.
Stephens died at her home in Detroit, her wife by her side. She also leaves behind their daughter, Elizabeth.
With Post wires
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