Domaine Javier, who appeared on MTV’s True Life in 2011, is suing California Baptist University nearly two years after the school expelled her for being transgender.
Javier was accepted to California Baptist University’s nursing program with a scholarship in music and academics. The university later mailed her a letter accusing her of fraud a couple months after she revealed on True Life that she was biologically male. Officials accused her of trying to conceal her identity and presenting false or misleading information.
Javier’s expulsion was finalized on August 30, 2011, the week before she was to begin attending the school.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Javier told a local paper after the incident occurred. “They said, ‘On your application form you put ‘female.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s how I see myself.’”
Javier has identified as a female since she was a toddler. Some transgender people undergo sex-change operations, but not all. Javier chose not to, but she feels her decision makes her no less of a woman.
Now Javier is suing the university for violating California’s Civil Rights Act. Her lawsuit asserts that the university’s actions have cost her roughly a half-million dollars in scholarships and future wages.
“There is no indication from these facts that the student intended to misrepresent herself or her identity to the school,” Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in sexuality and gender law, told The Huffington Post. “In fact, as the complaint points out, to represent herself as male would have also created the appearance of fraud. It’s a we-win-you-lose framework.”
California prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, but private universities generally are not covered by the law. California Baptist University requires applicants to agree not to engage in homosexual acts or cohabit with someone of the opposite sex, but there is no official policy against admitting transgender students.
California Baptist University is a private, Christian university located in Riverside, California. The university was founded in 1950 with an enrollment of just 120 students. Roughly 6,000 students attend the school today.
Conservative schools had had some success defending anti-gay policies, but Javier’s sexual conduct is not the issue at hand in this case. Javier is simply a transgender woman, and she may have a fighting chance at winning this lawsuit.