Just recently a transsexual person won a lawsuit against the Library of Congress. Former Army commander Diane Schroer won her lawsuit after a judge determined that her upcoming transition was the primary reason why she was denied a job. Many in the transgender community have been impacted by the threat of transgender discrimination at the workplace. Even as society has made progress against sexual orientation discrimination many transgendered people still live in fear of losing their livelihoods.
I spoke about the financial plight of the transgendered a few months ago, urging financial help for the transgendered – and that we take our financial health into our own hands. While I believe those who are able should take their financial future into their hand, it is also important to end harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Cheryl posted a good summary on her blog about the implications for transsexuals.
“I don’t think this will make a huge difference to actual employment rights for transgender people. To start with, if I am reading Dr. Weiss correctly, all companies have to do is have a policy of “we don’t employ transsexuals” and they are automatically covered by existing precedent – they don’t have to say anything else and risk getting into a mess like the Library of Congress did. In any case, refusing to hire someone because they are transgender, or firing them when you find out that they are, is ridiculously easy for a competent HR department. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, 75% of the transgender population does not have full time employment. Furthermore, it takes someone with the sort of bravery and determination that Diane Schroer has shown to fight a case like this. Nevertheless, this is a landmark ruling, and one that will send shock waves through HR departments all over the USA. It will also act as a welcome kick in the pants for the Democrats in Congress, many of whom still believe that transgender rights are an issue that they dare not touch.”
You can also find some insightful commentary from the Bilerico Project, such as the below:
The most important aspect of the decision is the ruling that discrimination based on gender identity is literally discrimination based on sex. Schorer’s lawyers argued, and the judge agreed, that gender identity is a component of sex, and therefore discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination. This might sound like a simple proposition, but previous federal courts have “carved [transgender] persons out of the statute by concluding that ‘transsexuality’ is unprotected by Title VII.”
Personally I believe that any victory in the courts is good news for the transgender community. It is unacceptable to see people with twenty five years of service to their country discriminated against. I believe that many reasonably minded people will also find it unacceptable. By shining a light on this transgender discrimination and prejudice we build up awareness and support of others in this great country.
Diane’s words after the trial seem to sum it up best:
“I knew all along that the 25 years of experience I gained defending our country didn’t disappear when I transitioned, so it was hard to understand why I was being turned down for a job doing what I do best just because I’m transgender. It is tremendously gratifying to have your faith in this country, and what is fundamentally right and fair, be reaffirmed.”