In the summer of 2013, Aimee Stephens sent her employer a letter explaining she was about to change her life. She was a transgender woman, and she intended to start dressing as such at work.
She never expected then that she was about to enter into a yearslong legal dispute, one that might soon become a litmus test for lesbian, gay and transgender rights before the next US Supreme Court.
Stephens had spent months drafting the message to management at R&G and G&R Harris Funeral Homes, a family-owned business in the Detroit area, she says. She was 52 years old at the time, and she had spent her entire life fighting the knowledge she was a transgender woman, to the point that she had considered ending her life.
Now that she was coming out at work, she hoped her nearly six years of positive performance reviews, which had earned her regular raises, would count in her favor.
But her boss, a devout Christian, told her the situation was “not going to work out,” according to court documents. Thomas Rost offered her a severance package when she was fired, but she declined to accept it.