Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Professor Jennifer Levi part of transgender win in U.S Tax Court

WNEC Law's faculty has played an important role in LGBT equality issues. Most recently, Professor Jennifer Levi represented U.S taxpayer Rhiannon O'Donnabhain in U.S Tax Court. Ms. O'Donnabhain claimed her treatment for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) as tax deductible, but the IRS did not agree. This week, the court ruled in favor of Ms. O'Donnabhain and held that treatment for GID is indeed tax deductible as medical care.

GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) News posts:
February 02, 2010
"The U.S. Tax Court today issued a long-awaited decision in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, ruling that treatment for gender identity disorder (GID) qualifies as medical care under the Internal Revenue Code, and is therefore deductible.
“This decision treats Rhiannon O’Donnabhain the way she deserves to be treated—like any hard-working American taxpayer with medical expenses,” said Karen Loewy, senior staff attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which represented Ms. O’Donnabhain.
“From the start, this has been a no-brainer. Every mainstream medical authority from the American Psychiatric Association to the National Institutes of Health recognize the legitimacy of providing medical care for transgender people. Dismissing these medical expenses as illegitimate and not deductible was discrimination, pure and simple.”
In an opinion reviewed by the full bench, the United States Tax Court affirmed that medical treatments for GID, including surgery and hormone therapy, are deductible medical expenses. Moreover, the Court stated that the IRS’s position that such treatment is cosmetic in nature “is at best a superficial characterization of the circumstances that is thoroughly rebutted by the medical evidence.”
“I’m overjoyed, not only for me, but for other transgender people,” said Ms. O’Donnabhain. “We deserve respect, equal treatment for our medical care, and fair treatment by our government.”
Professor Levi was also cocounsel to the seven plaintiff couples in the Goodridge decision that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and she is the director of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project.

Congratulations to Professor Levi, GLAD, and Ms. O'Donnabhain!

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