Gender Dysmorphia is a Disability under the ADA

Sep 18, 2022 | Accommodations, Federal Standards

In a case of first impression, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit recently ruled that gender dysmorphia is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court distinguished gender dysmorphia, which is a disability, from gender identity disorders, which are specifically excluded from coverage under the ADA (unless arising from a physical impairment). The hallmark of gender dysmorphia is “clinically significant distress” due to an incongruence between an individual’s gender identity and their assigned sex. This may include anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

This ruling provides transgender students who meet the criteria for gender dysphoria with an important additional source of legal protection. This may be all the more needed in light of the new Virginia Department of Education 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools, a controversial attempt to dramatically restrict the rights of transgender students in Virginia schools.