Just Because You Don’t Recognize It Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Discrimination

If you haven’t read my post, “Oh, So Discrimination Is OK As Long As It Is About Gender and Not Race. Got It,” then you should check it out. It was my first post about a pending gender discrimination lawsuit in Oregon, involving my spouse. The defendants at New Vision Wilderness currently maintain that they did not discriminate against anyone. In fact, they keep describing everything that they feel did occur including disorganization within the company, miscommunication, and oh yeah, discrimination. They do not get it. The owners of the company maintain that one of their policies requires transgender people to hide their gender from clients and that they couldn’t hire my spouse because xe “refused” to hide xyr gender (which also isn’t true, but they have told so many falsehoods at this point I no longer get bogged down by them).

Let me break this down for you.

Company A has a policy stating that employees will not reveal any personal information about themselves to clients. This is a therapeutic modality, ostensibly designed to support clients in therapy to overcome their challenges without being influenced by their therapist’s interests or personality.

OK. I think that’s kind of a bogus therapy model but I will allow Company A the freedom to incorporate it.

So cisgender Sara is hired as a therapist. She starts working in the field and clients refer to Sara with feminine pronouns (she/her). Because she has long hair, wears clothes styled for women, and speaks in a higher pitch than men, clients assume she is female and identifies as a woman. Her gender is known despite the “non-disclosure policy” of Company A.

Then cisgender Stan is hired as a therapist. He starts working in the field and clients refer to Stan with masculine pronouns (he/his/him). Because he has short hair, a beard, wears clothes styled for men, and speaks in a lower pitch then women, clients assume he is male and identifies as a man. His gender is known despite the “non-disclosure policy” of Company A.

Then transgender Tornado is hired. Before xe starts working in the field, xe is told xe cannot use xyr pronouns because clients might be confused and besides it goes against Company A’s “non-disclosure policy.” Xe is only allowed to work if xe allows clients and staff to erroneously refer to xem with feminine pronouns and be misgendered as female even though xe has a shaved head, wears clothes styled for men and women, and speaks in a pitch that is… well, xyr pitch. Unfortunately, transgender Tornado didn’t even get this far because the job offer was rescinded after xe came out as trans*.

So it’s OK for cisgender Sara and cisgender Stan to be “out” as cisgender, but it’s not OK for transgender Tornado to be “out” as transgender.

THAT IS DISCRIMINATION, MY FRIENDS! And it should not be excused by ignorance.

Here’s the thing: Human beings are not perfect. We screw up. We have biases and judgments and we hurt each other. But one would hope that when such biases, judgments, and hurts are pointed out; when a mirror is held up to our actions and reflects discrimination, we can see how we screwed up and we atone for our actions. When we are unable to do this, we perpetuate inequality. We perpetuate hate.

Stop the hate. Spread the love.


One thought on “Just Because You Don’t Recognize It Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Discrimination

  1. Amen! So clearly written. If anyone is ambiguous about what constitutes discrimination in the workplace, this should clear it up for them.


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