Trans Employees and Personal Appearance Standards Under Title VII

Transgender and transsexual individuals, collectively known as transpeople, are routinely demoted, terminated, or denied employment simply because of their appearance. For many years, trans employees have been unable to challenge such discriminatory practices under Title VII. This Note explores the status of trans employees in the jurisprudence of contemporary personal standards, with emphasis on two recent cases: Smith v. City of Salem and Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co. This Note argues that courts should embrace Smith’s endorsement of trans rights and reject Jespersen’s approval of discriminatory personal appearance standards.