John Knight


Director of LGBT and HIV Project





In this position, Mr. Knight directs litigation in states in the Midwest designed to confront bias and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and those affected by HIV and AIDS.

He successfully challenged a one-of-a kind Wisconsin law restricting transgender inmates access to necessary medical care, restrictions on obtaining accurate birth certificates for transgender persons born in Illinois, barriers to gay and transgender persons’ ability to preserve of their parental rights, among other cases.

Mr. Knight also speaks frequently in public about LGBT and HIV issues and helps the ACLU with outreach to local, state and federal legislators about issues affecting the LGBT community.

  • John convinced the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that when Harris Funeral Homes fired Aimee Stephens for being transgender, it violated federal non-discrimination law.
  • He successfully challenged a number of legal restrictions that prevented transgender people from securing accurate identification documents in Alaska, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere.
  • He recently overturned Wisconsin’s ban on trans-affirming health insurance coverage for state employees, resulting a $780,000 jury verdict for two state employees who were denied care.
  • He won a ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court that Iowa’s ban on trans-affirming Medicaid coverage violated the state non-discrimination law, and is back in court with a constitutional challenge to Iowa’s recent law passed intentionally to take away that coverage.
  • He secured a $120,000 jury verdict for a former Iowa state employee denied gender affirming insurance coverage as well as the use of men’s restrooms and locker rooms because he was transgender.
  • He persuaded the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a ruling overturning a one-of-a kind Wisconsin law restricting transgender prisoners’ access to gender affirming medical care.
  • He is currently litigating a case against the Illinois Department of Corrections for transgender prisoners fighting to put an end to the suffering and life-threatening risks the system causes them by routinely denying transgender prisoner the medical care they need.
  • He has also represented dozens of students who are transgender in challenging the restrictions their schools have placed on their ability to use gender-appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.