Milestones of Progress

Milestones of Progress

2010: Breaking gender barriers

Gender Justice is co-founded in June 2010 by attorneys Jill Gaulding and Lisa Stratton.

2011: Taking on the Crown Prince

Starting with a public protest and day of action, Gender Justice takes on a Saudi crown prince who fired three Rochester women from their jobs as chauffeurs because of their gender.

Read their story

2012: Settling our first case

Gender Justice and client, Leticia Zuniga, reach a settlement in our first major case – filed in 2009 against SMS Holdings – in which the company agrees to make major changes to its sexual harassment trainings, reporting and enforcement policies.

“Thank you – because you believed so much in me, in what I lived through, and in what happened to me.”Leticia Zuniga

Read Leticia’s story

2012: Pivotal moment

Gender Justice assembles its first board of directors with support from the Minnesota Women’s Foundation.

2014: When women thrive, so do communities.

Gender Justice expands into policy advocacy with a bold – and successful! – initiative to shape and pass the Women’s Economic Security Act.

2014: Brought to light sexual harassment in housing through two cases

“We clearly need to do a better job of protecting renters from privacy violations and sexual harassment at home.”Jill Gaulding


Learn More

2015: Setting national precedents for trans rights

In a historic decision issued in March 2015 — the first in the nation — a federal court in Minnesota ruled that Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act’s ban on sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of transgender status.

Learn about the case

2015: Gender equity in the workplace

Gender Justice files a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Erica Davidson after she was fired from her job as a restaurant server.

Gender Justice and Deputy Sheriff Amee Pribyl take on Wright County for gender discrimination when Amee was passed over for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified male candidate.  

2016: Removing barriers for trans folks

Gender Justice and client Alice James file a discrimination charge against CSL Plasma with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights after she is rejected from donating because she is a transgender woman.

David and Hannah Edwards join Gender Justice in filing a charge of discrimination with the City of Saint Paul Human Rights Department on behalf of their transgender daughter, alleging the school failed to protect her from persistent gender-based bullying and hostility.

2016: Building coalitions

Gender Justice is honored with the 2016 Lavender Community Award

“Winners demonstrate clear dedication and leadership by being either out or an ally and working for the advancement of the community that is comprised of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied people.”Lavender Magazine

Along with coalition partners, Gender Justice launches Minnesotans for Trust, Respect, Access, a statewide campaign to ensure Minnesotans are able to get the reproductive health care they need without harassment, shame or intimidation.

2016: Fighting for earned sick and safe time

Co-Founder Lisa Stratton served on the task force to help bring Earned Sick & Safe Time to St. Paul workers.

Read about this effort

2016: Welcome Megan Peterson - our new executive director! 👏

Meet Megan

2018: Fighting for gender-affirming health care

The U.S. District Court for Minnesota issues a ruling on behalf of Gender Justice client Brittany Tovar and her son Reid Olson, affirming the ACA’s provision banning discrimination in health care based on sex extends to transgender and gender non-conforming people.

2018: Hands off my BC

Gender Justice joins the Keep Birth Control Co-Pay Free campaign as a state partner in the national fight to protect access to affordable birth control. Throughout the campaign we travelled across the state to talk with folks about the barriers they’ve experienced to accessing birth control.

2018: Justice for Rae

“He seemed to confess to the crime, twice to his ex-girlfriend, once to police. But prosecutors never charged him. The reasons why show how rape myths continue to influence how justice is meted out in America.”

Listen to our client, Rae Florek’s, story on this episode of Revealed, in partnership with propublica

2019: Bringing our work together

Gender Justice and ACLU of Minnesota file a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District for discriminating against transgender student N.H. and failing to provide him with equal protection and due process under the state constitution and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

2019: Growing the team

Gender Justice welcomes our first ever Advocacy Director, Erin Maye Quade, and our new Legal Director, Jess Braverman!

2019: A new chapter for abortion access

Gender Justice once again makes national headlines, partnering with the Lawyering Project to file a bold new lawsuit in the Second Judicial District of Minnesota challenging medically unnecessary and unconstitutional abortion restrictions.

The UnRestrict Minnesota campaign launches, with Gender Justice helping to lead a coalition advocating for every Minnesotan’s right to make their own decision about whether or when to be a parent, and educating the public on restrictions surrounding abortion care.

2019: Combatting transphobia in sports

In a new filing with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Gender Justice asserts that USA Powerlifting illegally discriminated against athlete JayCee Cooper based on her gender identity.

“I’ve jumped through all the hoops, trying to meet USA Powerlifting’s arbitrary and subjective standards, just to have them respond with an outright ban on transgender women in competitions. At some point you have to say enough is enough. Trans rights are human rights.”JayCee Cooper, Gender Justice Client

2020: Rallying for reproductive freedom

On February 19, 2020 we joined UnRestrict Minnesota and more than 20 local organizations for Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day 2020.

It was a day dedicated to ensuring our legislators become vocal champions for reproductive freedom and stand with the 72% of Minnesotans who agree that everyone should have the power to make healthy decisions about their own bodies.

2020: LEGAL WIN - Safe schools for transgender students

“It means a lot to see that courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s decision makes it very clear that segregating trans students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”Gender Justice client and transgender student, N.H.

Read about our fight for trans students

2021: Welcome to Tana Hargest, Gender Justice’s New Deputy Director!

Gender Justice added Deputy Director Tana Hargest, an instrumental new member of the leadership team, to help grow and strengthen our organization for the next chapter of our work.

Tana Hargest

Meet Tana

2021: Gender Justice scores a victory for trans students

Gender Justice and co-counsel Best & Flanagan LLP secured a $218,500 settlement and significant policy changes from the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District over its discrimination against a transgender student, Matt Woods. As a student at Buffalo Community Middle School, Matt was repeatedly isolated from his classmates by the school, including being limited to a single restroom facility no other student was required to use. This experience of discrimination and harassment caused Matt’s mental health to deteriorate, leading to multiple hospitalizations. In its settlement agreement, the school district agreed to create and implement new protections for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students so they would not have to experience the discrimination, isolation and bullying Matt went through.

2022: Gender Justice releases report on crisis pregnancy centers

Gender Justice, along with its partners at The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights & Gender Equality, released a study on CPCs and later followed up with an urgent warning about the role the crisis pregnancy center (CPC) industry is poised to play in a post-Roe United States—as a surveillance tool for the anti-abortion movement. The report exposed how CPCs, which are generally not medical facilities and therefore do not need to comply with medical privacy laws, are collecting sensitive medical and personal information from pregnant people and quietly funneling it to anti-abortion organizations.

As a result of Gender Justice’s report, in August of 2022, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a consumer advisory warning highlighting these practices and advising pregnant people to do their own research before seeking out CPCs.

2022: Gender Justice responds to the overturn of Roe

Gender Justice Responds to the Overturn of Roe

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and ending nearly five decades of the federal right to an abortion in America. On the same day, Gender Justice, in partnership with UnRestrict Minnesota and the Reproductive Freedom Caucus of the Minnesota Legislature, released the Beyond Roe Agenda to make Minnesota a national leader for abortion access. That evening, Gender Justice, UnRestrict Minnesota and coalition partners held a rally outside the federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, where hundreds of people gathered to hear speakers share their stories, express their outrage, and vow to keep fighting for abortion rights in the US after Roe.

2022: Doe v. Minnesota

Just weeks after the Dobbs decision was handed down, a Ramsey County district court overturned the vast majority of Minnesota’s abortion restriction laws in Doe v. Minnesota, a lawsuit brought by Gender Justice and its co-counsel, The Lawyering Project, in 2019. The court ruled that the majority of Minnesota’s abortion restrictions were unconstitutional and permanently blocked their enforcement including a ban on qualified non-physician practitioners performing abortions; the two-parent notification law; the 24-hour waiting period, the requirement that doctors recite a script of misleading information about abortion to patients, and more.

2022: March for Abortion Access

Our Future: March for Abortion Access

On July 17, 2022, over ten thousand people marched to the Minnesota Capitol as part of a historic day of action organized by UnRestrict Minnesota and its coalition partners to demand abortion rights and access in Minnesota. Health care providers, legislators, musicians, artists, and faith leaders shared their stories and joined together with the thousands on the Capitol lawn to call for a future where Minnesota can be a bastion of reproductive freedom and every person seeking abortion in our state can get the care they need.

2022: Gender Justice Action and UnRestrict Minnesota Action launch; Minnesota’s first pro-reproductive freedom majority is elected

In 2022, Gender Justice launched Gender Justice Action (GJA), a 501(c)4 political non-profit organization focused on electing pro-gender equity champions, spearheading real legislative action, and paving the way for Minnesota to lead on abortion access. We also launched UnRestrict Minnesota Action (URMA), a program of Gender Justice Action. GJA and URMA targeted nine state races in the 2022 midterm elections, including the Attorney General’s race, with the goal of electing pro-reproductive freedom lawmakers. And this work paid off, with Minnesota voters electing the state’s first-ever pro-reproductive freedom majority to the Legislature!

2022: A landmark settlement for our trans community

Gender Justice announced a landmark settlement between the National Labor Relations Board and Menards on behalf of two transgender former Menards employees and Gender Justice clients. As a result, Menards has agreed to change its company policy and allow employees to display their pronouns on their store-issued name badges. This settlement is a victory for trans, non-binary and gender-fluid employees everywhere.

2023: A historic win for transgender rights in sports

JayCee Cooper

In a long-awaited decision in Gender Justice’s lawsuit on behalf of transgender athlete JayCee Cooper against USA Powerlifting, the court handed down a favorable summary judgment ruling, finding that USA Powerlifting discriminated against Cooper in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act when it denied her entry to participate in powerlifting competitions because she is a trans woman. This decision is a groundbreaking victory for trans inclusion in sports nationwide, and for the growth and success of women’s sports overall.

2023: A victory against sexual harassment

A Becker County District Court jury found in favor of Gender Justice client Margaret “Molly” Campbell, agreeing that her former employer Honor The Earth not only failed to take “prompt and appropriate corrective action” against sexual harassment and abuse within the organization, but also retaliated against her for reporting the harassment and abuse.

The 2019 complaint filed by Gender Justice describes ongoing sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward Campbell by then-coworker Michael Dahl, as well as community concerns brought to Campbell’s attention regarding Dahl’s inappropriate behavior towards minors. Campbell made repeated efforts to bring the harassment and community concerns to Honor the Earth’s leadership, but the organization chose not only to disregard her, but also to retaliate against her for bringing the issues to their attention. Campbell brought a complaint against Honor the Earth for sexual harassment and retaliation, and on every count the jury sided with Campbell, awarding a total of $750,000 in damages.

2023: A historic legislative session

A Historic Legislative Session

When Minnesotans elected the most progressive legislative majority in our state’s history last year, Gender Justice vowed to take full advantage of the opportunity—advancing perhaps the most ambitious agenda for women and LGBTQ+ people in Minnesota history. Here are some highlights of what we accomplished together:

Gender Equity:

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave: Institutes a statewide paid leave program that will keep Minnesotans healthy and advance economic security for families statewide.
  • Modifications to the Women’s Economic Security Act: Strengthens gender equity in the workforce in Minnesota—including improving workplace protections for ALL pregnant and nursing employees.

Trans and LGBQ Rights:

  • Trans Refuge Bill: Protects families seeking gender-affirming care in Minnesota from legal action and adverse child custody determinations by states that ban such care, and protects health care providers from out-of-state litigation or being forced to participate in anti-trans child custody proceedings.
  • Conversion Therapy Ban: Bans the destructive practice of anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy on children and vulnerable adults, prohibits it from being offered under Medical Assistance coverage, and outlaws the misrepresentation of treatments involved in conversion therapy.

Reproductive Freedom:

  • The Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act: Enshrines in Minnesota law every person’s right to make and act on the full spectrum of decisions available to them regarding their pregnancies and their reproductive health care, without government interference.
  • The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act: Protects everyone who seeks, provides, or helps someone get abortion care in Minnesota from legal action and criminal prosecution by anti-abortion activists and politicians from out of state.
  • Anti-abortion law repeals (enacted as part of Health and Human Services and Judiciary Omnibus Bills): Eliminates from Minnesota law a lengthy list of significant barriers to abortion access that had remained on the books despite state court decisions ruling many of them unconstitutional.
  • Ending Taxpayer Funding of Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers (passed as part of the Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill): Ended a state program that previously funneled $3 million in taxpayer money annually to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that use misinformation and coercive practices to actively discourage people from seeking abortion care.

2023: A groundbreaking win in Lusk v. Department of Corrections

Gender Justice, joined by co-counsel Robins Kaplan LLP, announced a groundbreaking win for transgender rights in a lawsuit filed on behalf of client Christina Lusk against the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC). In settling this lawsuit, the DOC agreed to make needed changes to its policies regarding treatment of incarcerated transgender people, and to pay a settlement amount of $495,000.

Christina Lusk is a transgender woman, and is recognized as female by the state of Minnesota. Nonetheless, since being incarcerated in 2018, she has been consistently misgendered by the DOC, was placed in a men’s facility where she faced ongoing harassment, and was denied the gender-affirming health care she had been receiving. In her June 2022 complaint, Lusk asserted that these discriminatory policies and practices violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act as well as the Minnesota Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, bodily autonomy, and freedom from cruel or unusual punishment.

Under the settlement, the DOC transferred Lusk to the women’s facility in Shakopee and provided her with gender-affirming health care and counseling. The DOC further agreed to strengthen and update several of its policies that will protect the basic rights, health and safety of any transgender people incarcerated in Minnesota. Among these changes, the DOC will abide by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) standards of care, contract with a WPATH certified health care provider, ensure its staff are trained on providing appropriate care for transgender people, and honor the name changes of incarcerated transgender people.

2023: Gender Justice joins lawsuit against North Dakota abortion ban

Extreme anti-abortion politicians in the North Dakota legislature want to totally ban abortion across the state at all costs and will throw out the state’s constitution to do so.

To stop them, Gender Justice joined Red River Women’s Clinic v. Drew H. Wrigley—alongside The Center for Reproductive Rights, Gender Justice and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP—to block an extreme new abortion ban in North Dakota.

Just six weeks prior to the new ban being signed into law, the North Dakota Supreme Court recognized that the North Dakota state constitution protects the right to obtain an abortion in life-saving and health-preserving cases.

Gender Justice’s lawsuit argues that the new legislation passed in 2023 is unconstitutional.

2023: Gender Justice helps North Dakota families sue to block the health care ban for transgender and nonbinary youth

Gender Justice Helps North Dakota Families Sue to Block the Health Care Ban for Transgender and Nonbinary Youth

On September 14, 2023, Gender Justice joined co-counsel The Lawyering Project and Ciresi Conlin LLC to help three North Dakota families and a medical provider file suit against the state of North Dakota in T.D. v. Wrigley. The lawsuit seeks to end North Dakota’s criminalization of essential health care for transgender and nonbinary young people and asks a North Dakota circuit court judge to immediately block enforcement of the law—restoring parents’ right to parent their children and their children’s right and ability to receive standard medical care as prescribed by their doctors.

2024: First-of-its-kind decision finds pharmacist discriminated in not filling a valid emergency contraception prescription

In a historic and groundbreaking decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a pharmacist’s refusal to fill a woman’s prescription for emergency contraception based on his personal beliefs constitutes illegal sex discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The ruling is the first in the United States to find sex discrimination in the context of a pharmacy’s refusal to fill such a prescription.

Gender Justice and co-counsel Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP filed the lawsuit, known as Anderson v. Thrifty White, in 2019 on behalf of Andrea Anderson, a mother and foster parent. Despite a valid prescription from Ms. Anderson’s doctor for the emergency contraceptive Ella, the lead pharmacist at McGregor Pharmacy (formerly Thrifty White), told Ms. Anderson that his beliefs precluded him from giving her the medication, and refused to serve her.

2024: Gender Justice receives groundbreaking $2 million gift from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call

On March 19, Gender Justice received a transformational gift of $2 million from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call, which awarded a cohort of community-led, community-focused organizations working with people and in places experiencing the greatest need in the United States. Among this cohort, Gender Justice was one of the highest-scoring organizations to receive an award. This is the largest one-time gift in Gender Justice’s history.

“With a conservative legal movement threatening our fundamental rights here in Minnesota, North Dakota, and across the United States, this gift could not come at a more crucial time. We are incredibly grateful and humbled by this recognition from Yield Giving and Lever for Change,” said Gender Justice Executive Director Megan Peterson.

“Building and sustaining a world free of gender barriers requires community organization, education, and changing the ways we talk and think about gender. This Open Call award helps us take our fight for justice and equity to the next level, continuing our work to dismantle the legal, structural, and cultural barriers that contribute to gender inequity.”

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