Advance Notice: Briefs

Aimee Stephens, Michigan woman at center of landmark transgender rights case, dies at 59

By: - May 12, 2020 3:12 pm

Aimee Stephens | Charles William Kelly photo

Aimee Stephens, the trailblazing woman in the first-ever transgender rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court, died Tuesday at her home in metro Detroit. She was 59. 

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, generosity, and keeping my best friend and soulmate in your thoughts and prayers. Aimee is an inspiration,” said Stephens’ wife, Donna Stephens. “She has given so many hope for the future of equality for LGBTQ people in our country, and she has rewritten history. The outpouring of love and support is our strength and inspiration now.” 

Aimee Stephens was fired from her job after she informed her boss she planned to transition from male to female, which became the first case about the civil rights of transgender people to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephen’s case will determine whether anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and illegal in the workplace under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Aimee did not set out to be a hero and a trailblazer, but she is one, and our country owes her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to justice for all people and her dedication to our transgender community,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project said. 

“When Aimee decided to fight back after she was fired for being transgender, she just wanted it to be acknowledged that what happened to her was wrong. Being a part of Aimee’s team at the Supreme Court has been one of the proudest moments of my life because of the amazing person behind the case. “

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.