The legal landscape for LGBTQ people is constantly evolving. The following are answers to frequently asked questions related to employment, housing, public spaces, schools, name changes, gender markers and more.
This section was updated on March 29, 2022. Please do not consider this webpage to be legal advice.


Can an employer discriminate against me because of my sexual orientation or gender identity?

In 2020, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court ruled that it is against the law to fire people for being LGBTQ.

Can a landlord refuse to rent to me?

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits sex discrimination by most landlords. We believe this should also be interpreted by the courts to protect LGBTQ people.
Housing discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, or people perceived to have HIV/AIDS, is also illegal under the Fair Housing Act’s protections against disability discrimination.
Housing providers that receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or have loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as well as lenders insured by FHA, are subject to HUD’s Equal Access Rule, which bans discrimination in HUD programs on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Am I protected from discrimination in public accommodations, like shops and restaurants?

There is no federal law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, like restaurants, theaters and other businesses. However, state and local laws where you live may ban this kind of discrimination.

Are LGBTQ people protected from discrimination in schools?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 bans discrimination on the basis of sex by public schools, and several federal courts have ruled that Title IX protects LGBTQ students from discrimination or harassment.
Federal courts have held that Title IX requires public schools to respond to harassment based on appearance or behavior that doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes: boys who wear makeup, girls who wear pants, or students who are transgender or non-binary. The First Amendment right to free expression can also apply to school dress codes.
Your constitutional right to privacy makes it illegal for your school to “out” you to anyone without your permission, even if you’re out to other people at school.
The First Amendment protects your right to express yourself in public schools. That includes bringing a same-sex date to prom or any school event.
Your right to be yourself in school includes the right to be transgender or transition at school. While the law in this area is evolving, a growing number of courts have found that Title IX and the Constitution protect transgender students’ right to access sex-separated programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity.
More information on Tennessee laws passed in 2021 that affect transgender youth in public schools can be found here.
If you are the parent of a trans or non-binary child who is being excluded from participating in public school sports due to gender identity, or who is being prohibited from using the restroom that matches their gender identity at school, please contact us.

I am an adult. Can I legally change my name?

Yes, most people can change their names by submitting a petition to the court. For most people with prior felony convictions, you can change your name but must submit additional documentation to the court. However, if you have committed first- or second-degree murder or a sex offense, you are not able to change your name in Tennessee.

I am a minor. Can I legally change my name?

Yes, through submission of a written petition to the court by a parent, guardian, or adult relative or friend. More information on the process in Tennessee can be found here. You should be prepared for the court to request that a mental health or treatment provider submit a statement or testify on your behalf that your request is in your best interest.

Can I amend my sex on my birth certificate?

Tennessee law currently prohibits changing the sex listed on your birth certificate.

Can I change the name or gender listed on my Tennessee driver’s license?

Yes, information on changing your name on your driver’s license can be found here. For name changes, you will need to submit a court order certifying your name change. For gender marker updates, you will need to submit a court order recognizing your gender change or "a statement from the attending physician that necessary medical procedures to accomplish the change in gender are complete.”

How do I update the gender marker on my US passport?

As of June 30, 2021, you no longer need to show medical documentation to establish or update the gender designation on your US passport. Simply fill out your passport application (typically Form DS-11) and check the M or F box that is most appropriate for you.
The State Department will be adding an X designation on US passports, however it is not currently available. We expect to see additional information from the State Department on obtaining an X designation by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Once this designation is available you will be able to self-select an M, F, or X on your passport.

What if I have different gender markers on different IDs or records?

There is no legal obligation to have consistent gender markers on various documents, and you should obtain the gender marker on each document that is most comfortable for you.
Different gender markers on documents may cause administrative confusion if you show them at the same time, or if there is a discrepancy between the gender marker on your ID and the marker in your record. The confusion may be uncomfortable when interacting with an agent, but can usually be cleared up with a conversation.