Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Big Transgender Victory

This is a major win for American civil rights, and if it stands it will affect the legal interpretation of gender-identity discrimination everywhere in the country. From the New York Times:
A former Army Special Forces commander passed over for a job as a terrorism analyst at the Library of Congress because he was changing genders won a discrimination lawsuit. Judge James Robinson of Federal District Court ruled that the Library of Congress had engaged in sex discrimination against Diane Schroer of Alexandria, Va., formerly known as David Schroer. The library was initially enthusiastic about the hire, Judge Robinson said in his decision, adding, “The library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally and physically, a woman named Diane.” Ms. Schroer sued in 2005 alleging sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Judge Robinson will decide on the penalties in the case later. The Justice Department is reviewing the judge’s ruling, a spokesman said. Victory for Transgender Woman

This woman applied for a job at the Library of Congress as a guy, and was hired enthusiastically. Then she told the boss she that when she started work she was going to be a woman. Suddenly the Library decided they didn't want to hire her after all, her qualifications that had seemed so great really weren't.

There are a couple of really good things in the judge's ruling, which you can read at Pam's House Blend.

Here's what does it:
The evidence establishes that the Library was enthusiastic about hiring David Schroer -– until she disclosed her transsexuality. The Library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally, and physically, a woman named Diane. This was discrimination “because of . . . sex.”

Interestingly, this wasn't a "gender identity" or "transgender" case, because there is no federal law protecting transgender people. This lawsuit argued that she was un-hired because of her gender, because she was female, not because she changed sex. Listen to what this judge said, I love this:
Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only “converts.” That would be a clear case of discrimination “because of religion.” No court would take seriously the notion that “converts” are not covered by the statute. Discrimination “because of religion” easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion. But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faces discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman, courts have traditionally carved such persons out of the statute by concluding that “transsexuality” is unprotected by Title VII. In other words, courts have allowed their focus on the label “transsexual” to blind them to the statutory language itself.

Well, yes, that's pretty hard to argue with, isn't it.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex,...

Well, yes, that's pretty hard to argue with, isn't it."

Not really.

The argument is that this individual didn't "change her sex" at all but merely had cosmetic surgery and starting taking hormones.

They didn't alter their chromosomal make-up.

September 20, 2008 11:47 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

For all we know, Wyatt, you have the chromosomal makeup of a fly. And not just us; I wouldn't be surprised if you don't know your chromosomal makeup.

More importantly, nobody makes that argument, because it is inane. I suppose witch-hunting, Palin-supporting, preachers in Alaska would make it, but that's about it.

This ruling takes the issue way above your pay grade.

September 20, 2008 1:29 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

The judge's ruling, by the way, includes a discussion of nine factors that constitute a person's sex: gender identity, chromosomal sex, hypothalamic sex, fetal hormonal sex, pubertal hormonal sex, sex of assignment and rearing, internal morphological sex, external morphological sex, and gonads.

The link is in the blog post.

JimK

September 20, 2008 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did they include color preference and batting average?

the point is that Jim said they judge's rationale is hard to argue with and it's not

the Roberts court has some fairly bright fellows

perhaps the persecuted Dana could give neighbor John Roberts a spin in the pedicab and talk it all out

September 20, 2008 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said:

“The argument is that this individual didn't "change her sex" at all but merely had cosmetic surgery and starting taking hormones.”

Whether or not you believe she is still a man and did or didn’t “change her sex” is irrelevant. She is highly qualified for the job, served her country with distinction, and was even offered the job. In fact, according to the court documents, Preece had already started writing an offer:

“I recommend Mr. David Schroer for the position of Specialist in Terrorism and International Crime in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Service. His qualifications and experience make him the best qualified candidate from among the other 8 applicants on the final referral list.
Mr. Schroer has extensive experience as a practitioner and strategic planner in
counterterrorism. Since 1986 he was involved in leading counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations around the world.”

People are not fired nor have their job offers rescinded because they have cosmetic surgery or go on hormone replacement therapy. In fact, cosmetic surgery is often a tool famous people use to keep relevant in the entertainment industry. One of my favorite comments on plastic surgery is from Dolly Parton: “If it’s draggin’, saggin’, or baggin’ I’ll nip it, tuck it, or suck it!” I’ve only had 2 surgeries myself, but that’s plenty for me. There are millions of women on hormone replacement therapy these days, and yet you don’t hear stories about them losing jobs because they revealed to their employer they are on HRT.

Preece claimed that she was concerned about security clearance issues but did no follow-up to see if those concerned were baseless or well-founded. I have two trans friends who have maintained their security clearances through transition, and even moved them to new jobs with new companies. It creates a bunch of paperwork and interviews for the therapist treating the trans person, but so far I haven’t heard of it resulting in a revocation of one’s security clearance. Preece had been told similar information by Schroer at the infamous lunch meeting, and if she’d bothered to do some actual follow-up, she would have found it to be true.

In reviewing the case the court found that none of the reasons Preece gave for denying Schroer the job held any real merit. Schroer was denied the job because the “hormones and cosmetic” surgery were ultimately associated with the dreaded “sex change operation” and Preece was uncomfortable about it, then went on to find excuses as to why the person she described as “the best qualified candidate from among the other 8 applicants on the final referral list” was no longer appropriate for the job.

Whether or not you believe a “sex change” is “real” or just “cosmetic,” thousands of men and women permanently change the way they interact with the world, living out their lives in the opposite “sex” they were “born” to or raised. Many of them move to other states or countries to live out their lives so they can be free from the harassment that comes when other people know their medical history. They go about their lives living as a person of the opposite sex, regardless of your opinion of its validity or morality.

The fact that one can not change their DNA is irrelevant as well. In our daily lives we do not go around asking people for a copy of their DNA test results before deciding how we interact with them, or whether or not we will hire them for a job, and hopefully we never will. In fact, laws in some places are being put in place to stop DNA testing from being used to deny one medical coverage and jobs.

The only times DNA becomes important is when you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, your doctor thinks you might have inherited a mutation that could affect medical treatment, or somebody has found your unrecognizable body and they need the DNA to match it with family members.
Peace,

Cynthia

September 20, 2008 3:10 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Wyatt,

Your rationale is absurd, and I have little doubt Judge Roberts will not agree with me. It's not going to him yet (the Appeals Court get a first crack and then it will likely be ignored by the Supremes), and before it does I would be very happy to have a chat with him. I've met him before and he's a very nice fellow. He is not, like you and so many of your fellow Republicans, anti-science and anti-education.

And if he'd prefer the discussion in a pedi-cab, I'm sure I can accommodate him.

September 20, 2008 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, W.

September 20, 2008 5:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Harney said...

Invoking chromosomes is like the last desperate gasp of the hater. They can't use anything else at this point to discredit the idea of sex changes (as crude as that formulation is to describe what trans people do), so it has to be taken to the microscopic and mostly unfalsifiable level of chromosomes. As if most people have ever had their chromosomes checked, as if there's never any ambiguities or differences from the expected norm that have nothing to do with being trans or not.

And, IME, the people who invoke it tend not to understand genetics very well in the first place.

September 20, 2008 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Invoking chromosomes is like the last desperate gasp of the hater."

The dazzling rhetoric of fact deniers.

Probably also thinks homosexuality isn't a disease because it can't be cured.

September 21, 2008 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon posited:

“Probably also thinks homosexuality isn't a disease because it can't be cured.”

I’m not familiar with the “homosexuality is a disease” theory. Could you please elaborate? Is it bacterial, viral, fungal, or prion based? Can it be cured with antibiotics? Or perhaps something needs to be surgically excised from the body in order to cure it? Do you happen to know an infectious disease specialist that could fill us in on all the details and point us to the appropriate medical text? Perhaps there’s a powder or cream that can be used to get rid of it?

I’ve been avoiding ground beef to reduce the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Is there a “gay prion” in pork or some other critter I should be avoiding? (I do eat a fair amount of bratwurst.) After all, enough people get on my case about being T, I don’t want to add to the list of things they harass me for by turning into a lesbian too.

Thanks for your help,

Cynthia

September 21, 2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that those who hold that homosexuality is a disease believe that it is a mental illness. An inability to function normally. While there may or may not be a cure, that is irrelevant to its classification as a disease. Many diseases are currently incurable.

Many of the things you said above support the idea that TTFers generally don't understand what the definition of "disease" is.

The violence that has been done to the language by the supporters of the gay agenda is vicious.

September 21, 2008 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said:

“I believe that those who hold that homosexuality is a disease believe that it is a mental illness. An inability to function normally. While there may or may not be a cure, that is irrelevant to its classification as a disease. Many diseases are currently incurable.”

This is America, you are free to believe what you like – and that is protected by our laws that discourage discrimination against people for their religion. Some religions preach that we shouldn’t get blood transfusions, others that we shouldn’t eat meat that is “unclean” and another that claims that if you’re righteous enough, you’ll go to a “Celestial Kingdom” and get your own planet to rule along with your family.

Some of us however prefer to believe in what we can learn from science and history.

Here’s a little piece of both from http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/HTML/facts_mental_health.HTML :

“In 1986, the diagnosis was removed entirely from the DSM. The only vestige of ego dystonic homosexuality in the revised DSM-III occurred under Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, which included persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation (American Psychiatric Association, 1987; see Bayer, 1987, for an account of the events leading up to the 1973 and 1986 decisions).

The American Psychological Association (APA) promptly endorsed the psychiatrists' actions, and has since worked intensively to eradicate the stigma historically associated with a homosexual orientation (APA, 1975; 1987).

Conclusion: Some psychologists and psychiatrists still hold negative personal attitudes toward homosexuality. However, empirical evidence and professional norms do not support the idea that homosexuality is a form of mental illness or is inherently linked to psychopathology.”

Anon also said:

“Many of the things you said above support the idea that TTFers generally don't understand what the definition of "disease" is.

The violence that has been done to the language by the supporters of the gay agenda is vicious.”

Just because YOU BELIEVE it is a disease doesn’t make it one. You are free to believe this if you like, especially if it is part of your religion. But “Freedom of Religion” necessarily implies “Freedom FROM Religion.” You would not be free to practice your religion if someone else’s religious beliefs trumped your ability to live your life in accordance with your own beliefs. By the same token, you should not expect to be able to impose YOUR beliefs about how people should live on them.

Trying to marginalize people who don’t agree with your beliefs by repeatedly insisting they are “mentally ill” or “diseased” is vicious itself. Done often enough, by enough people, it can lead to psychological stresses that require medical treatment:

“The foregoing should not be construed as an argument that sexual minority individuals are free from mental illness and psychological distress. Indeed, given the stresses created by sexual stigma and prejudice, it would be surprising if some of them did not manifest psychological problems (Meyer, 2003). The data from some studies suggest that, although most sexual minority individuals are well adjusted, nonheterosexuals may be at somewhat heightened risk for depression, anxiety, and related problems, compared to exclusive heterosexuals (Cochran & Mays, 2006).”
(This is also from the above link.)

So, by itself, homosexuality is not a mental illness; but the kind of abuse you flaunt so carelessly can certainly lead to it. Do you feel comfortable potentially contributing to someone else’s mental illness? Would you want someone to do that to you or your loved ones? Do you want that behavior sanctioned by the state?

Peace,

Cynthia

September 21, 2008 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just because YOU BELIEVE it is a disease doesn’t make it one."

I didn't say it was one, Cynthia. I said your definition of a disease is wrong.

A disease would be a disorder which severely hinders or makes impossible the normal functioning of an organism.

I would think homosexuality would not qualify because most homosexuals are perfectly capable of functioning in a normal heterosexual manner, and a majority have done so.

They choose to do what they do and, thus, homosexuality would represent a moral disorder rather than a functional one.

September 21, 2008 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" What, if any, cure exists for your virulent bigotry and hatred? Surely you know of some sort of treatment that can bring you back into the sphere of humanity?! Reread Cynthia's entry again: "Trying to marginalize people who don’t agree with your beliefs by repeatedly insisting they are “mentally ill” or “diseased” is vicious itself. Done often enough, by enough people, it can lead to psychological stresses that require medical treatment."
You need treatment!

September 21, 2008 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon -

You DID say this

"""While there may or may not be a cure, that is irrelevant to its classification as a disease."""

This is an affirmative statement meant to sound clinically validated and very authoritative, if nothing else.

You DID say what you have just denied you have said. You said ti was a disease on Sept. 21, 2008, at 8:36PM.

Just thought i'd let you know what you apparently forgot you'd said.

Thanks,

Sincerely,


Maryanne

September 24, 2008 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you misunderstood my post then, maryanne

I explained to you what people who say it is a disease say

I didn't say I was one of those people

I think it's a sin

not the worst one, mind you, but one nonetheless

September 25, 2008 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Understood.

Thanks for the correction.

The only thing i would offer in return then, is that since you "think it is a sin", this is what you "think".

It may be that this is what you were taught, and have reinforced both in your own study and interpretation in your own life, as well as the influence(s) of social culture that may be connected in some way to your theological beliefs.

This does not mean that you are correct, and it cannot, as you were likely not there to witness the day, nor the person(s)that this purported scriptural posit was written by.

Since you cannot personally give honest and full witness to the fact that you did not recieve this information in such a direct manner, it may be helpful to at least consider that you may, and many others may, also be incorrect in these assertions.

My apologies for misunderstanding your intent, but i must take issue with any potential for dehumanization, discrimination, or bias based even upon what you have been taught is a so called "sin".

Not a thought, just a sermon.

Respectfully,


Maryanne

September 25, 2008 11:12 PM  

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