Nursing home settles historic transgender discrimination complaint
When Marie King filed her complaint against the the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in October, it was believed to be the first complaint of this kind in U.S. history.
In a landmark settlement, a Maine assisted living facility has agreed to establish policies and procedures to ensure it is a welcoming place for LGBTQ seniors, after a 79-year-old transgender woman levied an accusation of discrimination.
When Marie King filed her complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in October, alleging that the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in the town of Jonesport refused her admission as a resident because she is transgender, it was believed to be the first complaint of this kind in U.S. history.
The settlement does not set a binding legal precedent. But legal experts nevertheless expect it to raise awareness that nursing homes and other assisted living facilities must abide by various state and federal laws barring them from discriminating against transgender people. The settlement also provides a roadmap for how such facilities can better serve the needs of LGBTQ seniors.
This development comes as more openly transgender adults are expected to enter their senior years — demographic growth in line with the overall increase in people older than 65, according to the Williams Institute. Research indicates that trans seniors are more likely than the general older population to need housing in assisted living facilities, in part because they are more prone to be alienated from family members, be in poorer health and live on lower incomes.
Marie King, 79, filed a complaint in March alleging that a long-term care facility in Maine discriminated against her for being transgender.Susan R. SymondsAt a video conference meeting based in Augusta on Monday, the Maine Human Rights Commission approved the terms of the settlement negotiated by the commission, the Boston-based GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the Adult Family Care Homes of Maine, which runs nine assisted living facilities in the state, including Sunrise.