What a week.
Yesterday was the final day of trial (for a while) in GLAD’s case representing Rhiannon O’Donnabhain in U.S. Tax Court. And that has meant that for the first time ever in tax court there was a rich and full discussion about transgender identities.
At the heart of the case is the question of whether one transgender woman will be guaranteed equal treatment by the Internal Revenue Service. But this case goes beyond Rhiannon as an individual. Having a court consider the experience of one trans woman has been an important opportunity to show the pervasive discrimination that transgender people face every day.
On Tuesday, the first day of the trial, we heard from three fact witnesses. Rhiannon and two of her primary health care providers testified to a courtroom packed with local and national media, students, supporters, and government officials. The focus of the day was Rhiannon’s personal story, what she’s gone through, and what it feels like to live as a trans woman in the world.
We heard expert testimony on the second and third days. Through this testimony both parties developed more fully what individuals with expertise in the area understand about what it means to be transgender.
One of the striking things about the trial was the level of discussion about trans identities, and about how trans people live in and experience the world. People in the courtroom seemed moved by the discussion. It’s hard to imagine that anyone left without a richer understanding of transgender people’s lives.
The trial will continue August 23, with testimony from the government’s second and final expert witness, followed by closing statements from both parties.
More press coverage: Bay Windows, Congressional Quarterly and In Newsweekly, including a profile of Rhiannon O'Donnabhain.