The Facts

It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations in Illinois. A crime based on gender identity is considered to be a hate crime under state and federal law. Here are some of the specifics:

• Discrimination: Illinois is one of just a handful of states where it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations under the Illinois Human Rights Act. (En Español.)

• Disposition of remains: Under a law passed in 2015, the Disposition of Remains Act was amended by a major piece of transgender rights legislation that grants dignity and respect at the time of death. The law allows Illinoisans to designate their gender identity, expression, and pronouns in written funeral and burial instructions and requires that those wishes be followed.

• Hate Crimes: The Illinois Hate Crime Act protects individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, which is defined as homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. Although gender identity or gender expression is not specifically listed in the act as a protected category, according to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, state law protects actual or perceived gender identity under the current hate crimes law by including it as a provision of sexual orientation.

An amendment to the Act, effective January 1, 2016, has the first specific inclusion of transgender people. It will specifically name gender identity as a protected category.

The federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act) specifically includes gender identity as a covered category.

• Medical Care: Medical care providers cannot refuse to treat a patient simply because of the patient’s gender identity.

• Restrooms: As a general rule, you can use the restroom consistent with your gender identity. If confronted, you are not obligated to produce identification to prove your gender, and you are protected by public accommodations laws in Illinois.

• Health Insurance: Denial of health insurance coverage, coverage for claims related to gender transition, coverage for claims for gender-specific care, and coverage for claims unrelated to gender transition may be considered health insurance discrimination. Health insurance companies should not drop your coverage or refuse your application for coverage because you are transgender. Illinois law prohibits discrimination against transgender people by places of public accommodation, and insurance has been held to constitute a public accommodation. It is important to review health insurance exclusions, generally located in a benefits plan summary. A vast majority of health insurance companies exclude all or most coverage for treatment related to gender transition, such as hormones, counseling and surgery. Some language is so broad that it may deny coverage to a transgender person for treatments unrelated to transitioning.