Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big Ruling for Transgender Rights

This will be a big deal, a breakthrough for transgender Americans.  HuffPo (among others) has it:
In what has been hailed as a "landmark" move, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled Monday that employers which discriminates against an employee or potential employee based on their gender identity is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.  Transgender Employees Now Protected By Anti-Discrimination Law After 'Landmark' EEOC Ruling 
You can read the EEOC ruling HERE.

The Transgender Law Center had filed the complaint on behalf of a California woman who was denied employment by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).  The TLC issued a statement that said in part:
Ms. Macy, a veteran and former police detective, initially applied for the position as male and was told that she virtually was guaranteed the job. Ms. Macy was exceptionally qualified for the position, having a military and law enforcement background and being one of the few people in the country who had already been trained on ATF’s ballistics computer system. After disclosing her gender transition mid-way through the hiring process, Ms. Macy was told that funding for that position had been suddenly cut. She later learned that someone else had been hired for the job.  
In response to the EEOC’s decision, Ms. Macy stated, “As a veteran and a police officer, I’ve worked my whole career to uphold the values of fairness and equality. Although the discrimination I experienced was painful both personally and financially, and led to the loss of my family’s home to foreclosure, I’m proud to be a part of this groundbreaking decision confirming that our nation’s employment discrimination laws protect all Americans, including transgender people. I’m grateful for the help of Transgender Law Center, which believed in me from the start and helped guide me through this process. No one should be denied a job just for being who they are.” 
The decision today follows a clear trend by federal courts in recent years holding that transgender people are protected by Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination. But it has even broader implications than a court decision, because the EEOC is the agency charged with interpreting and enforcing federal discrimination laws throughout the nation. The EEOC’s decision will impact every employer, public and private, throughout the nation. The decision is entitled to significant deference by the courts, and will be binding on all federal agencies.
Transgender Law Center’s Legal Director Ilona Turner explained, “It’s incredibly significant that the Commission has finally put its stamp of approval on the common-sense understanding that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination. That’s true whether it’s understood as discrimination because of the person’s gender identity, or because they have changed their sex, or because they don’t conform to other people’s stereotypes of how men and women ought to be.”  Groundbreaking! Federal Agency Rules Transgender Employees Protected by Sex Discrimination Law
2.6 million Maryland residents are currently covered by some kind of gender-identity nondiscrimination law, but our brave leaders in Annapolis failed to bring a statewide bill up to a vote in this year's legislative session, even though it had widespread support.  I'm no lawyer, but to me it appears that while this ruling applies to employment specifically, the principle generalizes to other situations.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we've made great progress in Maryland, there are still 34 states that don’t have trans-inclusive employment protections. A trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act would remedy the injustices documented in Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

April 26, 2012 8:58 AM  

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