Identity

Emotional Photos From Outside the First Trans Rights Supreme Court Case Ever

As the Supreme Court heard three cases that could change gay and trans rights forever, LGBTQ people and allies flooded the steps with signs of support. Photographer Justin J. Wee was there to document.

by Leila Ettachfini
Oct 9 2019, 5:00pm

All photos by Justin J. Wee.

Three major LGBTQ cases were argued in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday that will effect the future of discrimination on the basis of gender expression and sexual orientation in America. Aimee Stephens, Gerald Bostock, and Donald Zarda say that they were fired because of their LGBTQ identity: Bostock and Zarda for being gay men, and Stephens for coming out to her colleagues as a transgender woman. While the outcomes of all three cases will be historic, Stephens’ case is the first time that the Supreme Court heard a case on a trans issue.

During their hearings, all three urged the court to rule that discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Trump administration has already come out against Stephens, Bostock, and Zarda, arguing that LGBTQ discrimination does not count as sex discrimination, which is already illegal under the Civil Rights Act. And several conservative groups, including the Westboro Baptist Church, showed up to the Supreme Court on Tuesday with hateful signs to back that argument.

But they were outnumbered: The scene was overwhelmingly in support of the three LGBTQ plaintiffs. Masses of people showed up to voice their support for the three cases, including faith groups, human rights organizations, and unaffiliated individuals. Some carried signs that read “Trans people belong” and “Love is amongst us.” As Aimee Stephens approached the Court, the crowd began to chant, “We love you!” Here’s what it looked like on the steps of the Supreme Court as the most historic LGBTQ cases since same-sex marriage was legalized were heard inside.

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