A federal judge this week threw out a suit brought by a transgender man against the University of Pittsburgh that said the school discriminated against him by not letting him use the men’s locker rooms and bathrooms at the Johnstown campus.
U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson, sitting in Johnstown, ruled on Tuesday that Seamus Johnston’s suit has no standing because, although he considers himself a man, he’s a woman by birth and didn’t undergo a sex change or otherwise take steps to officially change his gender.
The judge said the central question is whether a publicly funded school like Pitt discriminates when it prohibits a transgender male from using male-only facilities.
“The simple answer is no,” the judge wrote. “[Johnston] alleges that he is ‘medically’ a male, but provides no further averments to support that assertion.”
Mr. Johnston, 25, was born a woman and applied to Pitt in 2009 as a woman.
That fact, the judge said, is “fatal” to his discrimination claim because the law recognizes distinctions between men and woman based on birth sex.
Pitt, then, was within its rights to kick him out of its male-only facilities.
Mr. Johnston was barred from using the men’s locker room while taking a weightlifting class in 2011, and the campus police later arrested him when he ignored the ban. He pleaded guilty to trespassing and disorderly conduct in 2013 and got six months of probation.
In his suit, filed in 2013, he had also claimed that Pitt retaliated against him by giving his name to the FBI while the agency was investigating a series of bomb threats against the school.
The judge rejected that argument, too, saying he couldn’t provide any evidence to support it.
The FBI questioned Mr. Johnston and he testified before a federal grand jury, but he was never charged.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510. First Published April 1, 2015 1:29 PM