Monday, September 22, 2008

Being Transgender in a Small Town

Dr. Jillian T. Weiss writes in her post as to the legal ramifications of the landmark federal decision on transgender in the decision made by Judge James Robertson.

“The Judge's reasoning goes directly to the heart one of the major concerns of employers of transgender people: whether customers and clients will take their business elsewhere. As a capitalist nation, our society is based on the proposition that our government should interfere as little as possible, consistent with public safety, with businesses. I have spoken to many employers about this issue, and they have often raised concerns about losing business, and have assumed that such concerns would justify dismissal of transgender persons, or moving transgender personnel to non-customer-facing positions (if available), without violating the law. Judge Robertson's ruling demonstrates that employers cannot safely make such assumptions.”

While I see this as having a dramatic affect within corporations and large companies with subsidiaries across the US making allowances for employees who decide to transition within the companies they work; I can not see how it will affect those of us who are not presently employed in obtaining employment with companies in the more rural regions of the country. As someone who transitioned at the same time I lost my job because of restructuring within the company; not having legally changed my name on important documents, I experience a wide practice of stealth discrimination, perpetuated by the personnel who are responsible for hiring new employees. I strongly believed there were several reasons that I was never offered an employment opportunity, i.e. age, education, experience as well as being transgendered. But it was nothing that I could prove or substantiate, since I never was asked back for a follow up interview. With the country having a high national unemployment rates, it lets small companies to medium size chose new hires from the large pool of the unemployed; if someone doesn’t work out to the companies standards, there are lines of entry level replacements itching to be hired. Why should a company hire or pay more for an older person with more experience and education than the person doing the hiring who could cause problems with the younger generation and/or the company. I also suggest or could imply that I was being slammed by some in middle management who choose to exercise their religious morals and/or prejudices when confronted by those of us who do not conform to their beliefs; they appoint themselves as the companies moral gatekeepers against those who’s lives and morals they judge and think, might corrupt the company and drive their customers away. Or their obligations to make quick moral judgments are directed from upper management.
I know of more transwomen who are being discriminated against with job opportunities or on the job than the transmen, who I know, are more easily accepted because their gender presentation matches the ‘male model’ idea.

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