When I asked Toni D'Orsay, Executive Director of the Trans 100 to comment on an article about the O'Donnobhain decision, which recognized gender confirmation surgery as a deductible medical expense, I got a bit more than I could fit into my forbes post. Here is her full response.
This case represents an excellent opportunity to examine the ways in which those who are opposed to the rights of Trans people -- and, by extension, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people -- operate in a setting of law, where their exhortations towards public defamation are much more limited by the demands of law.
That it took place in tax court was, in the first place, entirely because of their aversion, anxiety, and animus towards trans people, and, as this particular review notes, with a shocking disregard for precedent and settled case law. To have first had success and then have that reversed by a public outcry and pressure, is common among cases that involve LGBT persons.
Here, we have a government office, which does not have competence or training, impugn the very experts who do have competence and training as fake, and effectively arguing that no one involved except them knew what they were talking about or had the capacity to argue the case.
Which is shocking, as, by that standard, even their own expert witnesses were failing. It was akin to the arguments in the much more well known California civil case around marriage equality.
This became a case of the IRS, under orders, acting as an Agent of those who have aversion to or Anxiety about trans people, even though the IRS itself did not originally have the problem as an organization.
This, in particular, makes the case important in referencing other federal aspects that touch on the lives of trans people, and acts as a strongly settled precedent, even though it has limited applicability.
Of note, to me, is that under the current standards of care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, Version 7, there are several sections where aspects of this case are directly addressed, and well documented with explicit rationales -- a marked change from the Version 6 that was in use at the time the case was litigated -- although the case itself did not have direct bearing on the decision to do so beyond the familiarity of these questions when trans lives are examined in the public sphere.
The case is one that will likely be made into a "lifetime" movie one day -- fictionalized, no doubt, but the basics of the story are quite compelling and the way that things happened is very dramatic.
The most important aspect of the case, however, has nothing to do with trans persons directly -- it lies in the impact to persons who are not trans as a direct result of the way this case was argued. Had the trans woman lost, t would have significantly altered the way that other people were able to make claims for simple, routine exemptions that they had been getting all along, and given rise to an even greater challenge down the road in order to "restore" that basis.
Trans people, despite their being different, are still people. When you attack them, you invariably attack people who are not trans people, because of this simple truth.