Trans Woman Sues Brooklyn Drug-Treatment Center For Discrimination

New York-based AIDS services nonprofit Housing Works has filed suit against the Brooklyn chapter of Phoenix House, an alcohol-and-drug rehabilitation center, for discriminating against the rights of a trans woman enrolled in its treatment program.

The plaintiff, identified as “Ms. Wilson,” has identified as female since age 14 and entered Phoenix House as an alternative to jailtime. But she was barred from dressing as a woman while there and not allowed to join a women’s support group. Eventually Wilson was terminated from the program, relapsed into drug use and was jailed for more than two years.

“Phoenix House and its Brooklyn director violated Ms. Wilson’s fundamental human right to express her gender identity, and expelled her from the program as a result of her attempts to do so,” said Housing Works Staff Attorney Ignacio Jaureguilorda. “Phoenix House is supposed to help people but instead exacerbated Ms. Wilson’s struggles with substance use.”

Jaureguilorda’s team claims that by denying Wilson’s right to gender expression, Phoenix House was in violation of  New York State and City human rights laws. (Housing Works is also one of the main architects of the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against transgender New Yorkers.)

They are seeking damages as well as changes at the center that would make it more welcoming to transgender participants.

Source: Housing Works