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|First trans witness testifies at Senate ENDA hearing|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|June 12, 2012 16:13|
Getting Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is no easy task, obviously, especially when it comes to the gender identity part. I mean, the anti-gay bigots are frothing at the mouth thinking about who will be using what bathroom.
But today the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a hearing on ENDA and included a transgender witness to testify about his experiences. This is the same Congress that likes to discuss birth control with no women present, so no doubt this was a major victory for LGBT and ENDA activists.
Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, testified about the indignities he's faced as a trans man — from workplace harassment to employment discrimination and also police abuse. From his testimony today:
To be unemployed is very devastating, also demeaning and demoralizing. And then the recovery time — there is no limit on it. I still have not financially recovered. I’m underemployed. When I do talks, I tell people I’m not employable. I was lucky to be where I am and I’m happy to be where I am, but I’m one of the fortunate people that is employed. There are many more people like me that are not employed as a result of just being who they are — being good workers, but being transgender or transsexual. So I think it’s extremely important that this bill be passed to protect workers like me.
Broadus also touched on the bathroom issue, stating, "When I used female restrooms, police would accost me. I would have to strip and then they still told me, “Sir, get out of the bathroom,” when I would use the ladies’ room. It’s just humiliating and dehumanizing to say the least.[...]"
In 2009, Atlanta's own Vandy Beth Glenn testified before a House Congressional hearing to share what is was like to be fired from her state job as a legislative editor after her supervisor learned she planned to transition on the job. You can watch her full testimony here.
She sued the state for discrimination and wrongful termination and last year won her case after taking it all the way to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals — and she also got her job back.
Her case was also cited in the historic EEOC's ruling in May that "Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, protects employees who are discriminated against because they are transgender."
The ruling states “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII.”
The EEOC is the federal agency that interprets and enforces federal employment discrimination law. With its May ruling marks its first time clearing up what is discrimination against transgender workers.
Top photo: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) at today's Senate hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (via CSPAN)
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