“From hero to zero in 24 hours”

Something of great significance to the GLBTQ community happened yesterday, something that’s never happened before, that’s long overdue, that will impact on future generations.

No, I’m not talking about Rachel Maddow, thrilled though I am about the first-ever out lesbian to land her own U.S. prime-time news show.

I’m talking about a landmarkemployment discrimination case

A transgender job bias suit against the Library of Congress moves to
trial Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., with potentially
major implications for federal anti-discrimination policy.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson will preside over the bench trial inSchroer v. Billington,
No. 05-1090, in which retired, decorated Army Colonel Diane Schroer
contends that the library violated the federal law’s ban on sex
discrimination in employment practices.

The library, she charges in a suit brought by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union,
rescinded a job offer that Schroer had accepted after her disclosure to
her future supervisor that she was in the process of transitioning from
a male to a female.

In the fall of 2004, Colonel Schroer applied
for a position as a terrorism research analyst with the Congressional Research
Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress. At that point in time, Colonel Schroer, retired after 25 years of distinguished service in the Army, was a biological male, using a male name, who went to the interview in men’s clothing. An offer of employment was made to Schroer not long after the interview. Following salary negotiations, Schroer accepted the position. Prior to starting the job but after being hired, Schroer disclosed to her supervisor her plans for transition. Literally overnight, she was fired.

Schroer talks about her background, credentials and the then-pending case in the video below. NOTE this video is not from yesterday’s proceedings. It was taken June 26, when the House of Representatives held the first-ever Congressional
Hearing on transgender issues: “An Examination of Discrimination
Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace
,” chaired by Congressman Rob
Andrews (D-NJ) of the Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee of the Committee on Education
and Labor. (Schroer’s comments begin at the 3:33 mark)

I encourage you to watch all the videos on theNCTEquality page. It was indeed an historic occasion. Rep. Andrews is especially impressive.

More on the legal significance of Schroer’s case fromLaw.com:

This is potentially very significant, partly because the case is
against the federal government, which could impact federal employment
policy and people all over the country,” said employment discrimination
scholarArthur Leonard
of New York Law School. “It also is addressing an emerging issue as to
whether people whose gender identity differs from the norm would be
protected by the law’s provisions against sex discrimination.”

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have laws specifically
banning workplace discrimination based on gender identity. But courts
have moved slowly to recognize protection under the major federal job
bias law — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Until recently,
federal courts have held there is no protection. Buta 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
has led some federal courts to begin to hold that, under some
circumstances, Title VII may protect transgender people who are
discriminated against because they do not conform to gender stereotypes.

In an earlier ruling denying the government’s motion to dismiss the
Schroer suit, Robertson
held that Schroer could proceed with her Title
VII sex stereotyping claim, but he left unresolved whether gender
identity discrimination alone violates Title VII’s plain language.

More later on Schroer’s case, as it develops.

UPDATED. The ACLU blog just put up another great post with details from the first day of testimony.

10 thoughts on ““From hero to zero in 24 hours”

  1. That’s wonderful–let’s hope the suit ends in her favor. A friend of ours went through transition from male to female, and we witnessed some really, unbelievably awful behavior by some of our coworkers. Honestly, I was amazed at how blatantly hateful people were. Our friend ended up leaving the job–a huge loss, because she was incredibly bright–because of the situation. I still wish she had sued. I mean, our HR director actually warned her that our town is “a Christian town” and that she couldn’t vouch for her safety if she stayed. I am not kidding–the HR director admitted to my husband that she said it. The effing HR director.
    The saddest part? I don’t think she had a clue how ironic that statement really was. Christian. Mmm-hmm.

  2. Why is it that it is 200-effing-8 and humans are STILL having to ‘prove’ their validity to receive decent behavior/treatment?!?!?! That doctors have to be told to treat lesbians, that transgendered citizens have to fight for employment they are qualified for, that women have to continually fight for access to birth control and the right for self-chosen termination of a pregnancy. Hell, I even had a friend that had trouble finding a doc to perform a tubal ligation on her w/o her husband being there (they had mutually agreed on the procedure) – that contrasted starkly w/my ex-beau who got a vasectomy w/o having to tell his then-wife (long before we dated).
    We must stifle this ‘religionist’ crap that has INVADED our country. We are Americans, and “WE” want our country back!!!

  3. The videos of thatsubcommittee hearing are eye opening. The committee heard from this attorney- Lavy (videos 4 and 6 I think), representing the Alliance Defense Fund- a fundie legal organization created to protect religious rights (of Christians only). He was representing the views of employers and employees re how “problematic” it was for good upright people of deep faith to work around transgendered co-workers. His claim was that in some cases it was discriminatory for these Christians to have to work with transgendered co-workers. Rep. Andrews’ responses are great.
    Oh yeah, and of course, Lavy winds it all up with bathroom privacy issues. God forbid upright Christians might have to do their business knowing there might be a penis or vagina in the stall next to them that doesn’t match up to the little picture on the bathroom door.

  4. If we want to start policing the propriety of our workplace bathrooms, we can start with the people who TALK ON THEIR CELL PHONES IN THERE, or who (in the case of one former colleague) BRING THEIR LUNCH IN AND EAT IT IN THE STALL. Or conduct their entire morning routine, including exfoliation and TWEEZING. Where is the legislator, state or national, willing to protect me from being assuaulted with cutesy little signs that say, “If you SPRINKLE when you TINKLE, be a SWEETIE and wipe the SEATIE!” Where is my protection from that shit, huh?
    Seriously, what is it about the bathroom that is such a problem? You go in a stall and shut the door. You shouldn’t have to worry about anybody’s bits but your own.

  5. Exactly, A – if all the people that have enjoyed a gay bar (whether gay, straight or whatever)would think about it from an office standpoint it should boil down to this:
    If you can use a gay bar’s bathroom and be okay w/the multi-faceted gender perspective milling about just outside the partition – you can’t give a rat’s rosy red patootie about if while utilizing the office john if there is a john/jane/former-of-either in the stall next to you.
    Jeebus, are “people of faith” THAT shaky in their OWN gender identification???? Um, the short answer: YES!
    I don’t care, as long as I have a functional, clean loo to skip to when nature calls (btw, the only such call I will take in the bat’room) – I could give a fig about who’s taking space in the stall next to mine. But if flatulence or worse happens on either user’s behalf – IT’S a bathroom – THE place to do that – just be polite and flush/spray the freshener…mmkay?
    I wish the assholes would just go away – they are harshing my mellow as a good American. Shit like this story pisses me off. If these walking anal sphincters would tend to their own crap and take care of themselves, they wouldn’t have time to dabble in other peoples’ PERSONAL CHOICES that have NO BEARING on the pseudo-offendee.
    That’s my .02 – for now…LOL!

  6. As a Librarian, I am deeply dissappointed that this was the Library of Congress – supposedly supposed to be leaders of the libraries in the nation. Yet these actions are contrary to the American Library Association.

  7. oh this is great. welcome united stats to the 20th century. steampunk and absinthe for everyone!

  8. One wonders whether these anxious folks all have two or more bathrooms in their homes, carefully sex-segregated so that nobody ever has to sit on a toilet seat where opposite-sex bits have been…

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