Picture this: You are offered a job. You tell the hiring manager you are transgender and use gender neutral pronouns. Three days later the owner of the company asks you to write a letter outlining how your gender will impact the company and its clients. Shortly after that, the job offer is rescinded.
Or more appropriately, WTF?
This is what happened to my beloved three months ago when xe was hired by New Vision Wilderness then un-hired when they found out xe was trans*. We are still reeling form the impact of this discrimination.
How is this OK? Should I write a reflection outlining the impact of my womanhood on my dance students? Or better still, should my assistant write an essay outlining how his Filipino-ness affects our cast? Since he’s not white, he really should explain himself and how he’s going to deal with his non-whiteness in our professional world.
No one would think that was OK!
So why would someone believe it’s OK to ask S to write a paper discussing xyr gender in those terms? I need to take a deep breath and not say what I want to say about New Vision Wilderness (because I hold myself to a higher standard). What I will say is that they are clearly ignorant, most likely transphobic and homophobic, and do not understand the law. Because guess what? IT’S NOT OK to offer someone a job then rescind the offer when you realize they are trans*! T’is illegal (at least in some states). And now there is a lawsuit pending.
I know that New Vision thinks S is out to get money but that is not the case. S wanted a job! And this one seemed perfect for xem. S was super thrilled to get a job 10 days after finishing graduate school and xe has been completely devastated by this situation. Having your identity attacked does not feel good. Being told that your gender “is a concern” and that you have a personal agenda by being that gender is hurtful. S has suffered deep wounds at the hands of New Vision and they need to know that what they did was not OK.
If an African-American person had been offered this job, then asked to write a reflection about how being black would impact the clients, then told they did not actually have the job because their race “was a concern,” then this lawsuit would be a no-brainer and New Vision would KNOW they had done something wrong (at least I certainly hope they would. It is possible I am being naive in my racial privilege). Yet New Vision doesn’t seem to realize how badly they hurt my beloved. They seem to think it was perfectly alright to question S’s gender and behave like bullies because xe is trans*. To date, they have neither apologized nor admitted wrongdoing.
The bottom line is it is NOT OK to discriminate based on someone’s identity. Unfortunately, only 21 states have sexual orientation on their anti-discrimination laws and only 18 states have gender. Luckily, Oregon has both and that’s where S’s lawsuit is happening.
This incident has really highlighted why the unemployment rate for trans* folks is 75%. Unacceptable.
People are people. All people have a right to live in a body. Discrimination is an act of hate. Stop it.