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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Job Discrimination

This post is inspired by a Shakesville guest post "We Matter".

Have you heard of Diane Schroer? That's ok, the name doesn't immediately ring a bell for me either, but she is a trans woman who was hired by the Library of Congress to do analysis for them. The Library of Congress is now being ordered to pay her close to $500,000. Why? Because as soon as they found out that she was trans/transitioning, the person in charge of hiring rescinded the offer.

As wonderful as it is for her, it isn't really cause for celebration. In Massachusetts RIGHT NOW there is a bill being discussed that will legally protect all trans people in Massachusetts from job and housing discrimination*.
Meaning that it still doesn't exist, meaning that at this exact moment I could be fired at will for my gender identity.
Meaning that every day I go to work, I have to remind myself to carefully excise any trans specific language from my vocabulary.
Meaning that I have to willfully repress any desire to have people use the correct pronouns about me while at work.
Meaning that I worry if my clothes today, yesterday, tomorrow, will be considered gender inappropriate, and what the hell should I do if they try to require me to wear women's clothes?
Meaning that when I go to work, I struggle constantly in how to talk about my partner Bluejay, do I gender him? If so how?
Meaning that any passing remark at work about my living situation is fraught with potential blunders.
Meaning that when talking about roommate drama (which as some of you might remember is/was often tied up in trans issues), I feel worried about mentionting that much of it stems from transphobia.
Meaning that people who don't understand the constant stress of hiding my gender feel free nonetheless to tell me that "it's important to be honest in an interview. More than anything else, not being honest (about anything) puts up a red flag, makes the employer think: If this person isn't telling me the truth about this (and clearly there's something fishy here), what else is she hiding, and is she going to try to cover up her mistakes on the job instead of talking honestly about them?" thus implying that my gender is just one more lie/that my deliberate choice to hide my trans identity is taken haphazardly.
Meaning that I didn't get a job in my actual field, with full benefits, because I'm trans (oh sure, I don't know that for certain, but when the person literally in charge of hiring you says: "I really like you, I want you working here yesterday, I've already told the HR people to send you a formal offer, maybe you can start in 2 weeks" and you don't hear for months, and then find out that someone there just happened to know you were trans, and that she also just happened to be the person who told everyone she couldn't work with you, it's a pretty damn safe bet), thus leaving me in a part time job with no benefits, on public assistance, because actual professional jobs clearly aren't within my utterly bad, no good, reach.

Even though Diane Schroer was awarded this decsision, it isn't cause for celebration because in New Hampshire just recently, a bill for housing and job and hate crimes protections was voted down unanimously (even the bill's sponsors voted against it).
It isn't cause for celebration because even though Angie Zapata's killer is going to spend the rest of his life in jail, Duanna Johnson's murderer is on trial, and I still won't be surprised if he walks.
It isn't cause for celebration because of all the other trans victims (and survivors) of violence, who will not only never see justice, but have their memories distorted with false pronouns and misleadings names.

I'm happy for Diane Schroer. But I'm waiting for the day when trans people don't have to shop around for an accepting work environment (which are few and far between), closet themselves, or sue/fight for their rights. And let's face it, Ms. Schroer is an exception to the rule.

*If you're from Massachusetts, and you have time/care (which really, I hope you all DO care), please please click on the link and think about submitting written testimony (I will be, just as soon as I figure out what to write).

1 comment:

  1. We're trying for one of these in PA right now, but I'm not getting my hopes up - too much political power in the middle of the state where all the fundies live.


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