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Transgender Rights | Public Accommodations | Connecticut

Connecticut Public Accommodations Q&A

What is a “place of public accommodation?”

A place of public accommodation is “any establishment which caters or offers its services or facilities or goods to the general public” (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-63(1)). This definition is intentionally broad and includes hotels, restaurants, rest areas, hospitals, and Connecticut public schools.

Does Connecticut have an anti-discrimination law protecting transgender individuals from discrimination in places of public accommodation?

Yes. Since 1991, Connecticut has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81c to 46a-81q). In July 2011, these laws were extended to protect transgender people when Governor Malloy signed Public Act 11-55, An Act Concerning Discrimination, into law. The act, which went into effect on October 1, 2011, added “gender identity or expression” to Connecticut’s list of protected classes. For more detailed information see GLAD’s and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund’s (CWEALF) publication, Connecticut:  Legal Protections for Transgender People, at: Connecticut: Legal Protections for Transgender People

Do the laws also protect people perceived to be transgender in places of public accommodation?

Yes. Connecticut non-discrimination law defines “sexual orientation” as either “having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such preference or being identified with such preference…” (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81a (emphasis added)). This language includes discrimination based on perception. For example, if a person is fired because they are perceived to be gay, they may invoke the protection of the anti-discrimination law regardless of their actual orientation.

Similarly, the law defines “gender identity or expression” as:

[A] person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth… (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-51(21) (emphasis added)).

What does the law say about discrimination in places of public accommodation?

Such places may not deny full and equal accommodations or discriminate in any way because of a person’s sexual orientation (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81d), gender identity, or gender expression (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-64(a) (1) & (2)).

A specific law also forbids discrimination at golf clubs on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status or sexual orientation (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 52-571d (b) & (c)). If you are denied membership or access to a golf club on the basis of any of the above, you may file a complaint in Superior Court to restrain further violations and recover damages of at least $250, plus costs and attorney’s fees (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 52-571d (g)).