Breaking News: Transgender Employees Now to Be Treated Like Human Beingson April 26th, 2012 at 5:00 am
This is huge. In the fall of 2009 I testified before the House Education and Labor Committee about my case. At the time we hadn’t won, but at the federal district court level the judge had turned down the defendants’ motion to dismiss in an expansive and thoughtful ruling, so we’d had some encouragement. Or, as is said about the terrorists, we’d been emboldened.
The committee was considering a version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect all LGBT people, including transpeople (unlike an earlier version, promoted by HRC, that excluded transpeople), from sexual-orientation or gender-identity based discrimination, and I spoke about my experiences. I’m told I was the first transgender person to address a Congressional committee. I wouldn’t know how to verify this claim, but I have no reason to doubt it. My friend Diego Sanchez, a transman, had spoken to a subcommittee a year or two earlier.
Another panelist who spoke to the committee was Stuart J. Ishimaru, a member (and at the time, acting chairman) of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He talked about how terrible LGBT workplace discrimination is and how the EEOC would fight it if ENDA passed, but indicated that current law didn’t allow the EEOC to do anything about it. I knew this, because my attorneys had told me as much when I first came to them with my situation.
ENDA didn’t pass in 2009, and in 2010 a new majority in the House made the prospect of its passage even more remote. Since then no other similar laws have passed at the federal level except the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And that repeal only applies to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals; transpeople still may not serve openly in the military.
There was considerable talk this year that the President might sign what was called the “ENDA executive order,” which would have extended ENDA-like protections to all employees of federal contractors. But earlier this month the White House stated that such an order will not be signed any time soon. Definitely not in 2012, anyway.
This 16-page EEOC ruling, issued Monday in the case of Mia Macy, a transwoman turned down for a job with the ATF, states clearly that transgender discrimination is sex discrimination, and therefore is something the EEOC will not permit. Several recent court wins are cited, and Glenn v. Brumby dominates page 10.
I’m glad someone was paying attention. This means transpeople in every state and under both private and public employers now have protections that LGB people still don’t have. It’s a seismic shift (I note this on Richter Scale Day), and I’m still pretty bewildered by it. We won’t begin to see all the ramifications for months or years. I’m thinking transgender schoolteachers may be an early beneficiary of the ruling.
Of course, there’s a buried lead: The ATF? That’s part of the Department of Justice, which is under the President’s direct authority, and when Obama took office he did issue an executive order protecting all federal employees from LGBT-based discrimination. Mia Macy’s grievance should never have been necessary in the first place.
I have a Paypal “tip jar” now! It’s over there on the right rail. If you want to show me some love, you can express it in monetary terms!
There’s also an email link here somewhere, or you can leave a comment if you have any comments or complaints. Or if there’s a topic you’d like me to address. I’m here for you!