Aimee Stephens, the trans woman who brought the first-ever trans rights case to the Supreme Court, has died at 59.
Stephens passed away on Tuesday after years of kidney failure, The Washington Post reports. She died at her house in Detroit, Michigan with her wife, Donna Stephens, at her side.
Stephens’ Supreme Court case is just days or weeks away from a ruling. The case could have major implications for trans people all over the country, as it will determine whether trans people are entitled to employment protections under the Civil Rights Act.
After 30 years of working as a funeral director, Stephens was fired from her job in 2013, two weeks after she came out as trans. The ACLU is representing her in her Supreme Court case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “In doing this, I’ve realized there’s a lot more people out there in my situation and they really don’t know where to go or what to do,” Stephens said when her case reached the Supreme Court.
Tragically, Stephens won’t be alive to see the results of her case. But her legal team fights on, and she’ll forever be remembered for her contribution to LGBTQ+ history.
“Aimee did not set out to be a hero and a trailblazer, but she is one, and our country owes her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to justice for all people and her dedication to our transgender community,” the ACLU’s Chase Strangio said in a statement.
“As a member of her legal team, I am deeply sad for this loss. As a transgender person and an advocate, I am filled with both grief and rage that we have lost an elder far too soon. As we, and millions, carry her work for justice forward, may she rest in power and continue to guide us on this path.”
Stephens’ wife Donna also shared a statement through the ACLU.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, generosity, and keeping my best friend and soulmate in your thoughts and prayers,” Donna wrote. “Aimee is an inspiration. She has given so many hope for the future of equality for LGBTQ people in our country, and she has rewritten history. The outpouring of love and support is our strength and inspiration now.”
Rest in Power, Aimee Stephens!