King v. Sunrise Assisted Living
UPDATE: Marie King and Sunrise Assisted Living have reached a landmark settlement in a case at the Maine Human Rights Commission. “I’m thrilled to see this positive outcome,” said Ms. King. Learn more.
We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as we age. But transgender older adults, like our client Marie King, experience high rates of discrimination and vulnerability in long-term care facilities.
On October 21, 2021, GLAD filed a discrimination claim with the Maine Human Rights Commission on behalf of Marie King, a 78-year-old woman who was denied a room by Sunrise Assisted Living in Jonesport, Maine because she is transgender. It is the first known discrimination complaint filed in the U.S. by a transgender older adult against a long-term care facility. Read the filing.
In the spring of 2021, the complainant Marie King was admitted to Pen Bay Medical Center for an acute medical emergency. Once Ms. King’s health was stabilized, the medical staff determined she did not require in-patient care and needed placement in an assisted living facility. A hospital social worker contacted Sunrise Assisted Living on Ms. King’s behalf and was told they had rooms available. Upon learning that Ms. King is transgender, however, the Administrator at Sunrise informed the hospital they would not admit Ms. King because they were concerned she wanted to reside in a room with a female roommate, despite the fact that Sunrise regularly places women in semi-private rooms with other women.
The claim brought by GLAD on Marie King’s behalf asserts that Sunrise discriminated against Ms. King based on her gender identity, transgender status, and her sex, all explicitly protected under the Maine Human Rights Act.
Update: On March 14, 2022, the Maine Human Rights Commission by a 3-2 vote found evidence that Sunrise Assisted Living violated state nondiscrimination protections when it denied Marie a room because she is a transgender woman. The milestone finding in Marie’s case is a huge step toward ensuring anyone who needs access to a long-term care facility is welcomed with courtesy and respect.
- Nursing home settles historic transgender discrimination complaint | NBC News
- Landmark settlement grants transgender senior the respect she deserves | LGBTQ Nation
- Transgender woman and assisted living home that rejected her reach settlement | Press Herald
- Assisted living home that turned away transgender woman agrees to adopt nondiscrimination policy | Bangor Daily News
- Care network to make changes after trans discrimination case | Associated Press
Panel: Facility discriminated against transgender woman | Associated Press
- Trans U.S. seniors fear bleak future in residential care | Openly
- First-known trans discrimination case at assisted living facility filed in Maine | Boston Spirit
- Trans elder says she was denied spot in assisted living facility because of her gender identity | Daily Kos
- Maine transgender woman files first-known discrimination claim against an assisted living facility | Boston Spirit
- A transgender woman filed a discrimination complaint alleging she was denied admission to an assisted living facility | Maine Public