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Trans Woman Settles DMV Privacy Suit

Trans Woman Settles DMV Privacy Suit


A transgender woman from California who, after going to the Department of Motor Vehicles in San Francisco to amend official documents to reflect her gender identity, received a letter from a DMV clerk telling her that she was going to hell for the abomination of homosexuality, has reached a $55,000 dollar settlement.

The woman in question, Amber Yust, took the DMV to court over the fact the employee, who had a known history of refusing service to trans applicants, had been able to purposefully retain Yust’s personal information to send harassing letters and materials regarding her gender identity, including one message that said homosexuals should be “put to death.”

This, Yust charged, was a failure on the DMV’s part to protect her privacy.

The Transgender Law Center took up Yust’s case and filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court in December 2010.

More from the Transgender Law Center press release:

Yust, through her attorneys Chris Dolan and the Transgender Law Center, filed a lawsuit in December 2010 against the DMV, alleging violating of her rights under the California Information Practices Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act. Yust brought similar claims against the DMV employee, who voluntarily resigned from his position with the DMV shortly after the incident.

The matter resolved with the State of California for $40,000, and with the former DMV employee for $15,000. As a part of the settlement, the DMV agreed to work with the Transgender Law Center in an effort to incorporate transgender sensitivity into its ongoing employee training.

Dolan said, “this suit affirms the right of all people to equal access to government services, regardless of their orientation or decision to make a transition to live life as their full and complete self. In the big picture, this suit promotes the privacy rights of all Californians by ensuring that confidential information retained by our government stays confidential.”

Kristina Wertz, legal director of the Transgender Law Center said “All Californians have the right to do something as simple as going to the DMV without fear of harassment and threats of violence. What happened to Amber reminds us that for transgender people, our state’s promise of equal treatment is often unfulfilled. The case serves as a reminder to all businesses that nobody should be treated differently simply because of who they are.”

There are currently several ongoing cases throughout the U.S. in which trans citizens are suing over a failure to change their gender identity on official records, including one case in Alaska where a trans woman has been able to change her pilot’s license to reflect her gender identity but the DMV has refused to change her driving license. Read more on that here.

Related Reading:

U.N. Approves Resolution Against Anti-LGBT Discrimination

Transexual Woman Takes Marriage Fight to European Court of Human Rights

Ireland Introduces New Guidelines on Creating Safe & Supportive Schools for LGBT Students

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Kaitlyn Tikkun.

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9:09AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

Spero sia stato licenziato.

9:23AM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

I hope the employee was fired and has criminal charges pending.
Quick F.Y.I. Ix M.
Sin is an illusionary set of rules imposed by religious hierarchy to control the sheep mean flock. They change to accommodate the needs (and vices) of those in power.

12:25AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

Thanks for the article.

9:38PM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Ix M said,"Being homosexual is a sin, like being drunk, disobedience to parents, witchcraft, gossip, murdering, smoking marijuana, spewing profanity, overeating, lying, and cheating."

Just a question Ix. How does a gay person's sexual identity line up with this list of action verbs? Sexual identity is a noun. Being true to yourself and being honest about who you really are is not sinful, but virtous and freeing.

6:24PM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Being born a transsexual woman is like being born a short woman or a brunette woman, etc. By any other name a woman is a woman is a woman. It is NOT sin to be born with a physical brain that has a physiological makeup that is "female" and a body that has mutated to a male body while the brain remained in the more or less proto-female stage. There has always been a huge disconnect between religious people, the law, and medical science. How many scientists were burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for their viewpoints? How many women in Salem were burned as witches by the Puritans? How many people were tortured and murdered by the Spanish Inquisition for witchcraft? And here we are in the 21st century, with all our advances in scientific and medical knowledge and yet there remains a large percentage, about 22%-29%, that still believe that homosexuality and trans-sexuality is a choice and for whatever reason, sinful. And it is always the religious fanatics going after the women. What next? Acid in the face?

2:53PM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Being homosexual is a sin, like being drunk, disobedience to parents, witchcraft, gossip, murdering, smoking marijuana, spewing profanity, overeating, lying, and cheating.

11:15AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

This is off topic and I'm going to post it on every thread today, but several people have told me that they have quit getting the daily Care2 news via their emails. It seems that it's affecting quite a few. My suggestion to them was to subscribe again because that's what I had to do awhile back when it happened to me. If it's happening to a lot of people, we might have to notify the C2 staff so that they're aware of yet another glitch.

11:06AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

The photo that accompanies this article is from a protest I attended at Penn Station in NYC. I know the people holding the signs!

11:00AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Thank you Emily M. The truth that Empress G. fails to recognize is that gender isn't binary or even biological. It is a complex and individual awareness. The effort of society to simplify and contain it is a denial of its infinitely various expression. I've flagged Empress G.'s comments and agree that they should be removed. Insulting people for how they self-identify is not part of a civil discourse. It doesn't represent an alternate viewpoint but is hate speech that lowers the bar to an ignorant, bigoted level. It's what Care2 articles highlight as the ugliness we are standing against, not what gets skimmed over as everyday conversation among community members. But if the comments remain, I hope they will stand out to everyone as examples of the blanket dismissal trans people often face regarding their very existence. Let the hate blast out and maybe people of good will can be inspired to love harder and more actively. (I feel the same way about bigoted comments on articles about migrant people, which seem to be among the most hostile and intolerant.)

9:35AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Why is Empress G. still allowed to comment on this site, when she has spread her hatred for trans women all over this site? In fact, I read most of the stories on this site, and I only see her comments on posts about trans people. I can picture her waiting impatiently for her turn to make trans women feel as garbage as she does. If she showed this hatred toward any other group, she would be rightfully banned from commenting here. Care2 has been admirable for including more stories about transgender people, both about strides that they are making in fighting for their rights and exposing the truly discriminatory behavior that they face every day. But in taking that responsibility to be more inclusive, Care2 has failed to make sure this is a safe space for transgender individuals. Empress G. is a disgusting individual and has no right to spread her hatred on a supposedly progressive website.

Anyway, the DMV employee acted unprofessionally and hatefully. I'm glad Ms. Yust got her settlement.

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