Blatt v. Cabela’s (USA)

In a shocking development, the U.S. Department of Justice has stated in a filing in an employment discrimination case that gender dysphoria has a physical cause.

Katie Blatt, a transsexual woman, claims adverse employment action based on transsexualism as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA expressly excludes “transsexualism … (and) gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments” from coverage under the ADA (the “GID Exclusion”). The U.S. Department of justice submitted a statement of interest asserting that as a matter of statutory construction, Blatt’s gender dysphoria “falls outside of scope of the GID Exclusion because a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that it may ‘result from a physical impairment’.” The government is effectively advocating that the court hearing Blatt’s case not, for example, allow discovery on the issue of whether Blatt’s gender issues are related to a physical impairment, and instead rely on an unimpressive body of “evidence” that gender identity has a physical basis. The studies cited by the government include this literature review and this literature review, neither of which involves statistically significant evidence.

This is an example of government overreaching into private litigation between two litigants. 

U.S. Statement of Interest

Government_ Gender dysphoria has physical cause

2 thoughts on “Blatt v. Cabela’s (USA)

  1. I would make two points here. One is that much of what is called “research” and promoted in mainstream press does not rise to the bar of good science: i.e. overly small samples, cannot be reliably repeated, study designs suffer from confirmation bias. Good law cannot be based on bad research.

    Secondly, even if it was determined that for some parties, gender dysphoria has some physical marker, that would not be enough to distinguish it from any other psychiatric condition that has some genetic inheritability or is resultant from a developmental disorder. In short, if your disability involves delusion, that does not give you the right to demand the world at large cater to your delusion, only the right not to be persecuted for it. However, this is still shaky ground legally, suffering from the same potential for abuse as the insanity defense. How much should we, as a society, be expected to cater to delusional behavior, to make exceptions for it? In some ways that seems to me what the battle is being fought over; that and what qualifies as delusion and what does not.

    Thank you for bringing this important story to our attention.

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