Housing and
Employment Rights

The Fair Housing Act and state fair housing law covers housing rentals as well as non-profit housing, shelters, and transitional housing. These laws prevent “negative housing actions” that occur due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, family status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran/military status, and participation in Section 8 program. Collectively, these categories are referred to as "protected classes”—it is against the law for a landlord, organization, or home to harass, abuse, or have policies that disproportionately impact any of these protected classes. The Washington State Human Rights commission enforces these laws as they apply to gender identity. Local entities enforce fair housing such as the King County Office of Civil Rights and Open Government, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and the Tacoma Human Rights Office.

If you are unsure if your housing is covered by Fair Housing law, contact a local fair housing agency or get in touch with Ingersoll’s Economic Justice Coordinator for support.

As a trans and gender non-conforming worker in Washington state, you are protected under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). This law protects people from discrimination based on their gender expression or gender identity in public AND private workplaces with 8 or more employees. Discrimination here is defined as harassment as well as dissimilar treatment of employees based on their protected status. Several cities in the region also have laws that further protect trans and gender non-conforming people at work. This list includes Burien, Seattle, Tacoma and King County.


If you are unsure of your rights at work please get in touch with Ingersoll’s Economic Justice Coordinator for support.

Access Rights

YES! You absolutely have the right to access healthcare. You also have the right to be treated respectfully, competently, and professionally by your healthcare provider. Washington State’s anti-discrimination law (Washington Law Against Discrimination- otherwise known as WLAD) protects you from discrimination based on actual or perceived gender expression or gender identity in public places (including hospitals and medical clinics) as well as in insurance transactions (including health insurance). If you need support finding a primary care provider or otherwise navigating the healthcare system please reach out to Ingersoll’s Healthcare Access Coordinator.

Both Washington State and the federal ACA (Affordable Care Act) prohibit discrimination from insurance companies based on gender identity and any medical condition pertaining to gender identity. This means that your insurance company cannot cover a medical service in one situation for its members, but deny that service when the patient is trans or gender non-conforming. See Washington Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60) and the federal Affordable Care Act (Section 1557).

There are 10 essential services that insurance companies are required to provide under ACA requirements. These service are as follows :

    • Ambulatory patient services (outpatient services)
    • Emergency services
    • Hospitalization
    • Maternity and newborn care
    • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
    • Prescription drugs
    • Rehabilitative and habilitative services (those that help patients acquire, maintain, or improve skills necessary for daily functioning) and devices
    • Laboratory services
    • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
    • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Check out more information here.

As stated above, your insurance company IS required to cover any service for its transgender or gender non conforming members that it covers under different circumstances for it’s other members. This is may include but is certainly not limited to: HRT, breast reconstruction augmentation, hysterectomy, counseling services, etc.

For more information about this and how to file a complaint if you feel that you have been fairly denied coverage for medical services please visit here and contact our Healthcare Access Coordinator for more support. For more information about your rights as a patient please check out this great information from our friends at the National Center For Transgender Equality here.

Amending Identification Documents

In general, anyone over the age of 18 can legally change their name in Washington State.  If you are under the age of 18, you will need a parent/guardian/legal caregiver signature.  If you live outside of King County please contact us and we’re happy to walk through the county specific process of amending your identification documents with you. To change your name in King County you can follow the steps outlined on the page here. If for any reason, you cannot afford the associated fees please let us know; we are able to provide a limited amount of direct community financial assistance and if for any reason we cannot help you with the fee we can support you in applying for a fee waiver through the courts.

You will need a certified copy of a your court ordered name change to use to update other forms of identification.   

This process is pretty simple! Complete the top portion of  Change of Gender Designation Request Form available here.

The lower portion should be completed by a licensed physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, naturopath, advanced registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant, certified osteopathic physician assistant, or social service worker familiar with you.

The completed form should be sent back to the Washington State Department of Licensing. If it is approved, an authorization is sent to obtain a new license. They usually will send you a letter that you can take in to your local DOL to obtain a license with your new gender marker.  

If you need support finding a primary care provider to sign your form or need financial assistance to afford your gender marker change please contact us at

Instructions on how to change your name on your birth certificate, if you were born in Washington State, are available at this link here and instructions on how to change the gender marker on your Washington State issued birth certificate can be found here.

Every state has different requirements in order to obtain a birth certificate so if you were not born in Washington State we recommend that you reach out the health department or department of vital records in the state you were born to find out more information.  Check out this guide from our friends at the National Center for Transgender Equality here for reference.

If you need assistance with your name or gender marker change on your birth certificate, please contact us at

Police Interactions and Incarceration

Knowing your rights is important to recognizing when your rights have been violated and asserting your rights in the moment can help you assert those rights in court. However, sometimes asserting your rights in the moment can escalate an encounter with police. Your rights will sometimes be violated.  

Be aware that:

  • It is not always safe to challenge police misconduct on the street.
  • Write down everything you remember, including officers' badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first).
  • File a written complaint with the agency's internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
  • If you have any questions about your rights or need assistance, please contact us.
  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
  • You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your home.
  • If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave. (Ask if you are being detained.)
  • You have the right to a lawyer. If you are arrested, ask for one immediately.

We know that prisons are not a safe place to be in for anyone. We are a member of the Trans Prisoners Coalition and work to directly support and advocate with trans and gender nonconforming folks who are incarcerated. Policies and procedures that dictate the treatment of incarcerated trans folks are often shifting and may vary from institution to institution. For the best answers to any questions you may have please contact us directly at our mailing address (1425 Broadway #509 Seattle, WA 98122), email us at support@ingersollgendercenter or give us a call at (206) 849 - 7859. Additionally, we are able to send interested community members copies of a community created guide, “Information and Support for Transgender People Incarcerated in Washington State Prisons” by request at any of the above communication means.


  • You can amend the following documents to reflect a different name or gender marker:
    • Employment authorization card
    • Permanent Resident Card
    • Naturalization Certificate
  • Generally speaking, to update the name and/or gender marker on any immigration document you will need the following:
    • If changing name, a court order for name change or other proof of legal name change.
    • If changing gender, a driver's license, birth certificate, passport, court order, or other official government-issued document reflecting the requested gender designation, OR a letter from a licensed healthcare professional certifying the change in gender, as shown in the sample letter.


An asylum seeker must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of five grounds:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group (Most LGBTQ individuals who apply for asylum qualify under this category)
  • Political opinion

Since 1994, United States immigration law has recognized persecution on account of sexual orientation as a basis for asylum. Transgender individuals and HIV-positive individuals have also won asylum cases. Moreover, some people who have engaged in LGBTQ or HIV rights  activism in their home country and fear persecution on that basis may be eligible to apply for asylum under a “political opinion” category.

Filing for asylum is a very serious decision and can be a particularly challenging process given our current political climate. We recommend that you consult with an attorney before filing. Please see our calendar for more information on the legal clinics we host or give us a call for more specific legal referrals.

These resources shouldn’t be considered legal or medical advice. If you have civil legal questions reach out to our friends at QLaw or attend our first Wednesday support group and get support at our monthly QLaw clinic. If you have medical questions we suggest you ask your primary care provider. This information is accurate to the best of our knowledge and was last updated on 7/2/2018.