I remember a few months back one of the commenters on this site, who's a transwoman, was exasperated that all trans activists talk about is "the bathroom issue". I'm certainly not in a position to judge these activists, but it seems to me that that sort of talk would be justified, especially in light of this tenth circuit court decision.
The court decided that it was OK for the Utah Transit Authority to fire Krystal Etsitty, a transwoman, out of fear that she'd use the wrong bathroom. Seriously. Her lawsuit was based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, saying that she was fired due to her sex (transsexual) and because she failed to meet the stereotypes of "male". The district court ruled against her, and the circuit court upheld that decision:
Because this court concludes transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII and because Etsitty has failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether UTA’s asserted non-discriminatory reason for her termination is pretextual, this court concludes the district court properly granted summary judgment on Etsitty’s Title VII claims.
She can't claim sex discrimination under Title VII because she wasn't born with female genitalia, as the decision goes on to say, and transsexuals are not considered a protected class under that act. This provides all the more reason to make sure that all anti-discrimination legislation, not just the anemic ENDA, is inclusive of gender identity.
But a few specific facts of this case are particularly annoying, and that's after the jump.
Etsitty was hired, as the court records indicate, four years after she began the process of physically transitioning. She was still presenting herself as male, and a few weeks after being hired, she went to her supervisor to tell him that she'd be changing her appearance. The supervisor was OK with that - it was a member of the upper management who had a problem:
Shirley, the operations manager of the UTA division where Etsitty worked, heard a rumor that there was a male operator who was wearing makeup.
That's right, it was a rumor that made her start to investigate. And she sat down and talked with Etsitty, asked her about the state of her genitalia, became worried that she would switch back and forth between male and female restrooms then put her on leave and fired her.
Oh, but after having that conversation where she asked Etsitty about her genitalia, Shirley suddenly became a prude again:
Shirley also testified she did not believe it was appropriate to inquire into whether people along UTA routes would be offended if a transsexual with male genitalia were to use the female restrooms.
And to add insult to injury, the reason Etsitty has not fully transitioned physically is because of the cost of surgery. She's a bus driver, after all, and one who just lost her job. So in court, guess what her manager says:
On the record of termination, Shirley indicated Etsitty would be eligible for rehire after completing sex reassignment surgery.
Are these people trying to be ironic? Were they trying to play a joke on Etsitty that went terribly wrong?
I'm not going to blame the court for their decision - it seems to be the place where American case law is. (If anyone knows of a reason to believe otherwise, please elaborate in the comments.) But this just goes to show how much law needs to be changed.