Marie King has reached a settlement with the company that runs a Jonesport nursing home after the Maine Human Rights Commission found that the nursing home discriminated against her because she is transgender. Susan R Symonds for Infinity Portrait Design

A transgender woman who was discriminated against by a Jonesport assisted living home has reached a settlement with the company that runs the home, her attorneys said Monday.

The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled in March that Sunrise Assisted Living discriminated against Marie King, 79, when the facility denied her a bed because she requested a room with a female roommate. Now the company that runs Sunrise and eight other homes in Maine has agreed to adopt a policy to prevent future discrimination against transgender people.

King’s attorneys say her settlement marks the first time in the U.S. that an assisted living facility for older adults has agreed to make such changes following a complaint from a transgender person. King’s filing to the Human Rights Commission, and the agency’s decision, also were unprecedented in the United States, Kings’ attorneys said.

Under its new policy, Adult Family Care Homes of Maine has agreed to place applicants and residents in shared rooms based on their gender identities, not on their assigned sex at birth. All services will be matched to a resident’s gender identity, and no applicants will be turned away based on how they identify.

“Transgender women will be respected fully as women and treated the same as other women in the facility, without any inquiry into particular surgeries or medical treatment,” the policy states.

The policy also acknowledges that discriminating against anyone based on gender identity or sexual orientation violates federal and state law.


Adult Family Care Homes of Maine also agreed to have its employees attend training on providing care to aging LGBTQ adults. The company will post a transgender nondiscrimination statement on its website, stating that all nine facilities will “treat transgender individuals in accordance with their gender identity in all aspects of admissions, placement and programming,” a statement from King’s attorneys said.

King was represented in her filing to the commission by lawyers from the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, a Boston nonprofit.

“I’m thrilled to see this positive outcome,” King said in the GLAD statement. “I believe the new policies will keep others from experiencing mistreatment and will help people understand that transgender people are only seeking to be treated with dignity and respect like anyone else.”

Attorneys for King said she was awarded a “token settlement amount,” which they declined to state, but that it was the policy changes that mattered most to her.

“For Marie, this was not about money,” GLAD staff attorney Chris Erchull said in an emailed statement. “It was about ensuring that other transgender people do not experience the mistreatment she did.”

Adult Family Care Homes of Maine did not respond to a phone call from the Portland Press Herald seeking further details of the agreement Monday.



In a joint statement by King’s attorneys and Adult Family Care Homes of Maine, the two parties said that the company “affirms its intention to provide a welcoming environment for everyone in the LGBTQ community and in particular commits to treating transgender individuals in accordance with their gender identity in admissions, placement, and programming.”

King filed her complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in October. She was hospitalized in March 2021, and looking for somewhere to live. A hospital social worker made a call to Sunrise Assisted Living, which was advertising “semi-private rooms” where female residents would be placed with female roommates, King’s complaint states.

After learning that King was transgender, the complaint stated, an administrator for Sunrise told the social worker that the facility was “declining Ms. (King) for acceptance due to her concern that Ms. (King) wanted to reside in a room with a female roommate.”

King found a place in another assisted-living facility in July 2021 and has been there since.

Her attorneys said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is still investigating whether Sunrise’s denial of services to King violated a portion of the Affordable Care Act barring sex discrimination. A spokesperson for the department said the department could not confirm the existence of any pending investigations.

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