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Maine Nursing Home Reaches Settlement with Transgender Applicant

Marie King is a 79-year-old transgender woman. She claims Sunrise Assisted Living denied her application to reside there because she is transgender. In the settlement, the Maine nursing home agreed to adopt an expanded transgender nondiscrimination policy and require its employees and administrators to undergo LGBTQ training. The company also agreed to prominently display the policy on its website. The policy states, "Gender identity, gender expression or transgender status will not be used to deny admission, programs, or services to any individual." The company will also treat residents "in accordance with their gender identity in all aspects of admissions, placement, and programming."

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed the lawsuit on behalf of King. It is believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind on this issue. In March 2022, the Maine Human Rights Commission announced it found reason to believe Sunrise had discriminated against King based on her sex, gender identity, and transgender status. President Biden recently signed an executive order to expand protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, including older group members in long-term care settings.

Legal experts interviewed by NBC News believe the settlement will provide a roadmap for how these facilities may better serve the needs of LGBTQ seniors. Research cited by NBC indicates that trans seniors are more likely than other older Americans to need housing in assisted living facilities. They are "more prone to be alienated from family members, be in poorer health, and live on lower incomes." The assisted living facility denied having discriminated against King.