The Independence Law Center filed a United States Supreme Court friend-of-the-court brief in support of the employer in the Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC case. We filed on behalf of Dr. Paul R. McHugh, M.D., the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Harris Funeral Homes was sued by a male employee who started to identify as a woman, and wanted to wear women’s clothing when performing funeral director services for grieving families.

The brief answers frequently heard claims about gender identity, often from advocacy groups in the scientific community, which masquerade as science.  Dr. McHugh exposes how these are really ideological pronouncements not supported by scientific evidence. He explains how this ideology is harming victims. 

Here is part of the brief:

The treatment of gender identity is much like the famous Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the spectators all pretend not to notice that the emperor walks through the streets wearing nothing. Those watching “the contemporary transgender parade” know that “a disfavored opinion is worse than bad taste,” so they shrink from stating clear facts. McHugh recognized that he is “ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. [He does] so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla . . . stand many victims.”

From a medical and scientific standpoint, the more something appears to be true based on what is observable, greater care is necessary before reaching an opposite conclusion. Here the biological reality of sex is undeniable, and the benefits of affirming persons’ disbelief in this reality are unclear and the risks are significant. As such, interpreting the law in such a way to create gender affirming policies (policies that require persons to affirm others’ beliefs that they are the opposite sex) may be causing rather than relieving suffering.

For more on the case:

  • Opinion piece by Thomas Rost, published in the Washington Post: “I did what was best for my business. Will the Supreme Court punish me for it?”