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Court: N.J. Laws Cover Transsexuals

July 4, 2001

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Ruling in a case brought by a doctor fired after he started dressing as a woman, a New Jersey appeals court said transsexuals and others with gender issues are covered by laws against discrimination.

Advocates for gay and lesbian issues praised the Tuesday ruling, calling it a sweeping decision because it extends discrimination laws to those struggling with gender identification.

Judge Steven L. Lefelt said it ``is incomprehensible″ that state laws would ban discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation but would condone discrimination against people who change their sex or suffer gender-identity disorders.

Carla Enriquez was hired as medical director of an outpatient learning and behavior center in November 1995. At the time, he was known legally as Carlos Enriquez and appeared in public as a man.

In September 1996, Enriquez ``began the external transformation from male to female″ by shaving a beard, trimming eyebrows and wearing earrings, the judge said. Enriquez was fired in 1997.

Enriquez legally changed her name in February 1998 and five months later began sex-change procedures.

The ruling also allows another proceeding to consider possible damages for Enriquez on other claims.

West Jersey Health System officials refused to comment on the case or a possible appeal.

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