Trans Former Bus Driver Sues CTA, Union for Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

Former bus driver Russia Brown broke new ground for CTA employees.

In 2019, WTTW News covered his successful push for the transit agency to add gender affirming care to its health insurance policy. That includes a range of health care designed to support transgender people, whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Since that breakthrough, Brown has been fired from his job as a driver. He’s now suing the CTA and the union representing bus operators alleging discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Russia Brown hasn’t been back to his old CTA stomping grounds for two years. But on a recent afternoon near the Jefferson Park station, he still got recognized by old coworkers from a job he took a lot of pride in.

“I wanted to be a part of the bloodline of the city,” he said. “Without the CTA, Chicago kind of stops.”

His former coworkers might have recognized him for more than just their time on the job. Brown received a good deal of attention when he, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, successfully pushed the CTA to cover gender affirming health care.

“I didn’t think anyone would care. I didn’t think that the story would get as big as it got,” he said.

Brown was proud of his efforts, but it also meant sharing something deeply personal.

“I basically outed myself to the whole city,” Brown said. “(When) I got to a new work location, … a lot of coworkers who I didn’t know were coming up congratulating me.”

Brown also