Guest Blogger

God works in mysterious ways

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 03, 2007 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Department of Homeland Security, gender, LGBT civil rights, Patriot Act, Social Security, SSA, transgender

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest editorial comes to us from Vivian Benge, President of the Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance. Vivian is a long-time transgender activist and a personal friend of several of our contributors.

Last week, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is abandoning its "No Match" enforcement procedures policy which is outing transgender people in the workplace. This has caused thousands of transgender people to lose their jobs and suffer great emotional turmoil and economic distress on top of the rampant employment discrimination we already face.

DHS policy seems more like religious based bigotry, fear and ignorance wrapped in the legitimacy of government regulation while advancing our nation toward a national ID card. As a transgender woman, it is so very sad to be an American and have to endure this. While our gay/lesbian brothers and sisters face the “don’t ask don’t tell” burden, transgender people have been ‘officially’ targeted in their workplaces by our conservative government’s “kinder and gentler” bigotry.

This DHS policy had been challenged in the courts by labor, immigration, transgender, civil liberties and other groups on the grounds that it would have required employers to either fire employees or face stiff penalties when employee records do not match information in the Social Security Administration (SSA) database, especially name, Social Security number, or gender. Many transgender employees, who are listed as one gender in SSA records, but who live and work in another gender after state court ordered name and gender status changes, would have been one of the groups at greater risk of losing their jobs as a result of the DHS enforcement procedures.

All this is particularly egregious because most transgender people don’t have the money to have surgeries that are required by SSA in order to change gender markers. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and its fundamentalist Protestant allies assure us we will go to Hell if we have surgeries at all. It’s one of the many “damned if we do and damned if we don’t” catch 22s that trans people face every day.

According to NCTE, on October 10th, the enforcement procedures were dealt a severe blow when the presiding judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rules, finding that the rules would cause irreparable harm to both innocent workers and employers. DHS signaled its abandonment of the present incarnation of these rules on November 25th by requesting that a judge put the lawsuit on hold until March 2008. DHS plans to introduce new, replacement enforcement procedures, which DHS believes will have a better chance of standing up to legal scrutiny, in December 2007.

Though the DHS enforcement procedures have been pulled, SSA will continue to compare their database against employer-submitted information, as it has for years before the issuance of the DHS rules. SSA has stricter standards for changing gender markers than departments of motor vehicles, which has led to employers of some transgender workers receiving notification of gender ‘no-matches.’ For many of those transgender workers this notification has effectively revealed them as transgender in their workplace, without their consent, thus leading to firings.

I was actually caught in the Social Security Administration (SSA) enforcement of their policy while I was still working, and even after I semi retired. On three separate occasions my employer demanded that I work out the ‘problem’ with SSA and SSA threatened that I would not be able to receive the social security I worked all my life to earn if my employer didn’t change it back. My employer, the State of Indiana, finally decided to ignore my Indiana court order and change my gender status back to what SSA wanted in their records because SSA was threatening them.

What a waste of my money to legally change my name and gender so I could get on with my life. That was before my surgery, but now that I have done that, I would rather not give SSA the satisfaction.

I was lucky for reasons of my own ‘coming out’ strategy, so didn’t lose my job, my retirement or, later, my inheritance when my spouse died, though I was threatened over each. With support of my Union and colleagues, as well as the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and others, I dodged those bullets though it has not been without personal cost.

The Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) has also received many complaints from transgender employees about the consequences of DHS/SSA’s destructive policy. I have personally worked with several employees in Indiana to ameliorate the impact of Indiana’s lack of concern for its transgender citizens while they do their knee jerk enforcement of DHS policy. Interestingly, many states have opposed and even refused to implement many of the DHS requirements that are moving the states toward a quagmire of new regulations and a national ID card.

One recent example I had the privilege to help impact was that of a technology professional at an Indiana company. The company had no idea she was transgender and was very happy with her performance, until Social Security informed them that her SSA gender marker didn’t match the person’s legal name and social security number.

A gender marker SSA refuses to change, by the way, despite the fact that if DHS ever had a reason to look for her in her birth configuration, they would never find her. Despite her legal name and gender marker changes through the court, SSA has refused to change their records because of their outmoded thinking that ‘biology is destiny.’

She was saved, interestingly, by the fact that her employer’s parent company was based in Chicago where Illinois law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Her local HR people were told, “What is the issue here? She is a good employee so just ignore the SSA issue as an employee retention factor.” She ended up keeping her job, which she was well on her way to losing because her local branch of the company presumed they should do as DHS advised and fire her since it had became an intractable problem with SSA and DHS.

Interestingly, since a local HRO had been defeated by Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants bent on keeping LGBT people vulnerable to job loss, the local supervisors believed they were safe in firing the person (who they had no idea was transgender until DHS/SSA outed her).

Ironically, Illinois law saved the job of this Indiana employee (one less brain drained from Indiana) and helped her Indiana supervisors come to grips with their own fears about gender expression and identity. The local office personnel for the company were actually apologetic after the fact and admitted that the corporate policy of the Illinois parent company helped them to see their fear.

It reminds me of the impact of other civil rights laws in the US that gave impetus to many people coming to their senses about discrimination and its impact on millions of people who were victims of irrational fears and prejudice. This case is a microcosm of how Indiana’s state and federal leaders could help business competitiveness by passing civil rights protections for LGBT people.

My personal favorite irony of the DHS policy, supposedly imposed to meet the needs of national security under the “Patriot Act,” is that it strives to force government and employers to require a gender marker on documents that is opposite to that which law enforcement would need to be looking for in order to apprehend all the transgender desperados out there – you hear about us all the time in the press, robbing banks, killing and raping our way through life, following the lead of heterosexual males. Laughable, if it weren’t so sad.

Fortunately, this travesty may change in the future because it is so unfair to the business needs to find and keep good employees. Isn't it interesting how greed can motivate change when love and acceptance of diversity can’t? It seems that God works in mysterious ways to help people learn.


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I am so glad to see this get posted.

This issue is really about two separate issues.

The first issue is Your Legal Sex you know the one on your Birth Certificate?
Social Security will allow you to change that even if the state you were borne in won't.
Now i can sympathize with people who have trouble coming up with the money for surgery however Over half the trans-identified men and women don't want surgery in the first place.

The other issue is sound grounds to fire many transgender employees and I would first in line to do the firing... They lied on their Employment Application by not disclosing their legal sex

I don't care who you are you deserve to be fired for lying on an employment application.

Vivian also overstates the issue there are not Thousands maybe a few hundred nationwide who have lost their jobs for lying about their legal sex on an employment application, however not thousands.... Give me a break or at least post
real data to back this up.

This is a typical example of the need for drama that some TG's have.

Social Security has been sending out No-Match long before i applied for a social security card back in 1970. So what is the big deal? Don't lie on your Job App and this won't happen.

Since 1980 being Paleo-Transgender or more lately TS has never kept me from a job.


Susan Robins

"Don't lie on your Job App and this won't happen."

Right, Susan...because you won't get hired in the first place.

We can always count on Sue to provide a different viewpoint on Transgender issues. I'm not sure about everyone else, but I tend to agree with Allyson - walking into the application process with "I'm a trannie!" spelled out would make it awfully hard to find a job. Especially in places like Indiana.

Actually Allyson that is not true.
Being Paleo-TG never got in the way of my career.

Just answer this question for me

and Bil i would post the same question to you...

How can an employer trust an employee who lies on his or her employment app?

If i owned a business sand had to hire employees i would boot anybody who lied on their employment app right back in the street.

This is not discrimination based on gender identity.
This simply eliminating an untrustworthy employee.

Bil has it ever occurred to you that some of us do succeed in mainstream life?

we don't give in to those who would have us live our lives out in a tranny ghetto.


As to the "Thousands" of TG folk who have discriminated against for lying on their job app.
Show me the data


Take Care
Susan Robins

Where's The Beef

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 3, 2007 10:55 AM

Sue,

Some people may succeed despite the overwhelming transphobia that exists, but there are more than a few people such as Susan Stanton do in fact face workplace discrimination. Yeah, it would be better if people did not lie on their job applications, but they are often forced to. Just take a look at the number of gay and lesbian Americans who hide their sexual orientation to serve in the military.

I am quite happy that you have been successful in living your life openly. You should not take your personal experience and think that it fits for the majority.

I won't get drug into a trans-identity-political debate any further than to say this: If being trans wasn't a drag on a person's career, then non-discrimination policies and legislation would be unnecessary.

The matter of trust is a central one, though. If I could trust a potential employer not to discriminate against me based on my gender identity and expression, then this wouldn't be an issue.

(I would agree, though, that the "thousands" piece needs some stats to back it up.)

Micheal

What TG's are doing by lying on their applications is giving their employer a better and legally sound reason to fire them.

Sure discrimination is a problem but don't exchange that for making honesty the problem.


That is just as wrong as the discrimination is in the first place.

To those of you who are TG/TS here do you want to be seen as liars do you want your credibility to be questioned because a few are desperate enough to lie on a job application. Because that is what is happening, your destroying your own credibility in mainstream society.
Who Wants To Hire A Liar?

Take Care
Susan Robins

Regarding "lying" to a potential employer about my gender: why does an employer even need to know my gender in the first place?

I applied for several jobs this year, and not one application form asked for my gender.

Now perhaps my experience isn't typical of the broader workforce, but it seems that some employers might be waking up to one simple fact: an employer has absolutely no "need" to know the gender of an employee, male or female or whatever. Neither does the SSA or DHS, for that matter.

The only thing that really matters is one's ability to do one's job. Maybe someday (soon) all employers will wake up to this reality.

Oh, Sue:

I don't care who you are you deserve to be fired for lying on an employment application.

If everyone who lied while applying for a job were actually fired the unemployment rate in the US would be around 95%.

Awesome guest post, Vivian. I learned a lot that I didn't know here!

Vivian Benge | December 3, 2007 2:11 PM

Sue,

You asked for the "Beef." It doesn't take a lot of extrapolating to come up with "thousands of transgender employees who have lost jobs due to this SSA/DHS policy.

INTRAA is aware of over one hundred transgender persons who have had workplace issues linked to their social security number being flagged to employers. Most never had to "lie" because they were never asked on applications.

Here is how I arrived at "thousands." First, I know of over 50 cases in Indiana myself. That is probably because I am a transgender activist. INTRAA staff and members know of others I haven't met and hear of new cases every day, often from the people who are out there just trying to lead their lives and they filter in to us.

I hear from other transgender support organizations in Indiana that many of their members, patients, clients, etc. have lost jobs and/or have been harrassed on the job, despite their best efforts to simply be good employees. This is often worse when bigots discover that someone is trans that they have worked with but were unaware.

So lets say there are at least 50 more transgender people out there that INTRAA doesn't have direct contact with (a very conservative estimate, to be sure, based on experience). That is a total of 100 people in Indiana alone. Do the math, 100X50 states = 5000 people (conservatively) nationally. Our guess is that it is a much higher number and in the hundreds here in Indiana alone. Remember that there are thousands of transgender identified people here in Indiana alone. Most of them live in relative isolation and only come to us when their social support network collapses.

Interestingly, most employers haven't asked about gender on applications because it causes them problems with sex discrimination, so it is a bogus argument to say that transpeople shouldn't be 'lying about their gender,' which they usually don't have to do. It is clearly a SSA/DHS problem and not rational to blame the victims of this official form of harrassment.

Angel you are beginning to sound like me...
The only thing that should really matter is one's ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

SSA does have a right to know what your sex is just try and not tell them and see what happens. Your legal sex is in your SSA master file and will be on your Medicare card.

Regarding my experience with employment applications ..
The last two jobs i have had.. the first one did have a space for my sex. I did put down Female even though at the time i was Pre-Op it was understood by my employer that my legal sex was going to change in two years. Oh and yes they did get a No-Match letter. This was before the DHS rule which by the way only carried color of law it does not have the force of law.

The second job my employer knew me and to keep things simple in a three woman business i hired on as an independent contractor.

Actually Alex they can be fired and ofter are fired for lying on their employment application.

I guess you have never worked in an industry that verifies such information. I have, one job in the defense electronics industry and one in commercial two way radio they verified everything on both my employment application and my resume.

no matter how you cut it Alex you cannot trust people who lie on paper.

There was a prominent lesbian college professor here in SanDiego who ran the woman's studies at ether SDSU or UCSD (i can't remember) who lost her job because she lied on her Curriculum Vitae.
More Power to them i say.

Take care
Susan Robins


Vivian your extrapolation is neither valid nor scientific.
I want to see links to websites where this information has been collected and scientifically analyzed. The TG/TS community has no problem crying foul but does have a problem with being able to back it up.


I happen to be the president of a local transgender support group Neutral Corner in SanDIego I also worked on the Transgender Needs Assessment for SanDiego a 4+ year-long project. I know what goes into making statements like this and you have no basis in making the statement you have.

Your assumption that the distribution of transgender folk is uniform is not based on anything factual. If it is I for one would love to see it. I don't mind being wrong people just have to prove it. That is how we learn.

Making the statements you have in your blog do a disservice to transgender and transsexual folk. You would do a better service to the TG/TS communities by educating both the mainstream in what it is to be TG or TS, and by educating the TG/TS communities in your aria in job seeking skills and the problems associated with lying on job applications. It would be far better to have a prospective employee leave that field blank then to lie about their legal sex.


Please understand I would love to see real progress made in the rights of transfolk. considering that i was paleo-transgender for a long time before transitioning. I have to be honest with you people can see through propaganda and your blog is just that propaganda.

Take care
Susan Robins

Sue,

Your comments bring up three questions for me.

First off, what makes it lying? When I've seen such forms, they aren't asking "Gender on your birth certificate" or "Gender on your SSA records" or even "Legal gender" but just ask for "Gender." And we all know that can mean several different things.

If I tell them the gender on my driver's license, it seems like a reasonable attempt to provide accurate information. Hell, if I tell them the gender they should expect to see when I show up, or the gender that most of the people around me recognize me as, that too seems like a reasonable way to interpret the question. I don't see any reason to assume the question refers to any specific legal record keeper, and I see no reason to assume they are referencing SSA and not DMV or county records, or even self-identification.

Part of what worries me is that there isn't an answer I can give that can't be interpreted as lying through one lens or another. I sometimes attempt to just leave it blank (as the only option that's not a lie to someone) and usually they do not care and just copy it off my driver's license.

If they actually did ask "Gender on your birth certificate" I would certainly answer truthfully (or check with an employment lawyer to see if it's legal for them to ask that) and see your point about firing people who don't. But I've never seen a form ask specifically for gender as listed with a specific record keeping agency.

Secondly, excuse my ignorance here, I don't have much HR experience or going through extensive hiring processes. But aren't some questions illegal to ask? Like you can't ask someone their sexual orientation, or religion, etc. Does Title VII do the same for sex?

In the forms I have filled out, gender is usually a separate, optional, form for affirmative action purposes. I understand that the SSA requires it during tax stuff, and I vaguely recall filling out a form that had gender on it for a position I had already received (years ago), but I am certain that my last job never officially asked me. I can only assume they checked my driver's license.

The third thing is more of a curiosity. I haven't seen the specific phrase paleo-transgender before. What does that mean? I tried a google search and only came up with things written by you.

--Tobi

I shall take the last item first...
Paleo means early or old-school. Paleo-transgender refers to those of us who came out before 1990 when there was no support system and (even though this haven't changed) gays and lesbians looked down their nose at us.

as to your first point your birth sex is your legal sex. The sex that is stated on your birth certificate is the what your legal sex it. Now you and I know full well many states accommodate transfolk by placing the sex marker on their drivers license or ID card that reflects their presentation.
While some states won't allow you to change your birth sex SSA will upon presentation of documentation alter your sex in their reccords.


as to your second point I asked my lawyer about Title Seven covering sex and his reply was that it does not. They are allowed to collect demographic information, and information asocial Security would need. They are not allowed to discriminate based on that information. It doesn't stop them from collecting it.

regardless of what your drivers license says your employer is going to want your legal sex, the one on your BC because that is what SSA goes by, and that is where the No-Match letter is going to come from.

I hope that answers your questions......

just a side note here.
If you are Non-Op or Pre-Op or Gender Queer and not identifying with your birth sex you are going to have to out yourself to your employer. That is just a sad fact of life. They run the show and they make the rules GLBT people don't. Those roles are bent or modified at the pleasure of the streight majority. I can tell you from personal experience it is better to get along with then then it is to fight then because you won't win and the Gays and Lesbians won't stand by you.

Being a ex-Paleo-Transgender person i know this first hand.

Sorry to say this but it is true.


Take care
Susan Robins

Bil i would post the same question to you...
How can an employer trust an employee who lies on his or her employment app?
If i owned a business sand had to hire employees i would boot anybody who lied on their employment app right back in the street.

You'd have very few employees, Sue. As a former manager for a few small businesses and a Hewlett-Packard factory, I can tell you that most people lie. Length of employment times get stretched, jobs get left off, responsibilities are puffed up and reasons for leaving are oftentimes made up.

Bil has it ever occurred to you that some of us do succeed in mainstream life?

Indubitably. But not all. Some women aren't discriminated against in the workplace either, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to outlaw it altogether. Shoot, it wasn't that long ago that some women had to dress as men just to be able to work outside the home.

Which, I think, is a vastly appropriate reminder with this issue.

Being a ex-Paleo-Transgender person i know this first hand.

And what in the hell does that mean?

Earlier as an answer to "What does paleo-transgender mean?" you said:

Paleo-transgender refers to those of us who came out before 1990 when there was no support system

So when you're an "ex-Paleo-Transgender person," does that mean it's a person who didn't come out before 1990?

Because you really need to make up your mind. Either you did or you didn't. It looks like someone might be lying here to fluff up her resume... Someone call the feds!

I guess it could be someone who came out pre-1990 and then went back in. Would the year you go back in matter though? Cuz I'm thinking not.

Thank Vivian - great post!

As the co-chair of Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition I just want to echo that post 9/11 we saw a spike in "gender no match" letters go out and some of the people we talked with eventually lost their jobs, because they were outed as transgender.

The other piece is that it is the employer that fills out the form that goes to SSA asking about gender, so the employer is making that determination based on what they see the person as, if their applications ask for gender (which some do not) and using what ever documents the person has provided for the employee verification form.

Let you give you an example of someone who did not "lie" about their assigned sex at birth and I put that in quotes, because if you put down the gender you live as that is not lying in my opinion- so Sue I disagree with you, because I believe the majority of transgender people cannot access what is needed to change gender markers on SSA, driver's licenses in most states, and birth certificates in the states that do allow a person to change it, that financial bar is too high for most average working people I know... as well as some places are very unclear what is considered sex re-assignment surgery is for FTM's - I actually saw a policy for an RMV that required FTM's to have both vaginoplasty and phalloplasty, so who ever wrote that policy certainly was not transgender. No government agency should be requiring transgender people to have surgeries - particularly if they do not want to mandate insurance companies to pay for it.

But back to my example, I am FTM and at my current job I applied and came out as transgender (I do GLBT trainings - so being trans is bonus to them) I gave them my driver's license which lists me as female (because I can't change that without surgery) I also listed my self as female in my health insurance - the HR department trying to be good trans allies entered all my info in as male, because that is how I present and live... so a month after starting the job I got a "gender no match" letter - for my case it was not an issue, but HR dept was very confused and felt like they did something wrong.

Is the gender no match letter an issue for the transgender community - yes and it particularly affects those transgender people with the least access and monetary privilege who maybe working in low wage jobs that do not offer non-discrimination protections which many larger companies offer (sometimes with a much better pay rate as well)...

I think this is another issue that illuminates the class/economic divide in the transgender community.

If you want to read more about Gender No Match Letters and Transgender workers MTPC has put out a statement on it at http://www.masstpc.org/projects/nomatch.shtml

And Sue for the record I deal with 50+ emails/phone calls a month in Massachusetts from transgender people dealing with employment discrimination, harassment in the workplace, gender no match letter issues, firings, and not getting call backs for jobs they are very qualified for.

Chronic unemployment and under-employment is a huge problem in our community across the country, but there is a lack of data, because over all transgender people are not captured in data collection mechanisms - but that is another post

Im all in favor of adding an other or a TG CD gender label for the rest of us and then according to Sue we wont have to "lie" to be reconized as what we are.After all to be Trans is many things not just being a sex change trans person.So lets all work together to get this added so we wont be called "liars" by people who should be our friends.Id love to go to work dressed female but lets face it thats not totaly practical where im at.So I lie and call myself male to appease the haters and the purests.So who pray tell is lieing me still calling myself male or wanting to belisted as TG.

"Trans adovocate" should read the "trans aurgument" so much wasted effort,.

BIl
I agree that discrimination should be outlawed.

What I don't agree with you on that most people lie on job applications. That simply is not true.
For the time being we don't have a culture of liars (yet)


Take care
Susan Robins

One more thing Bill...

I shall take the last item first... Paleo means early or old-school. Paleo-transgender refers to those of us who came out before 1990 when there was no support system and (even though this haven't changed) gays and lesbians looked down their nose at us.

There is the whole quote...
Paleo-Transgender = Old School Before the days of GLBT support and Queer activ8ism.

Now in regard to the EX-Paleo-transgender part.
You know because we have discussed this before since i transitioned i dropped the TG and TS label. I am no longer ether just a member of the female half of society who happens to have a both a TG and TS history.

Just like anybody else i have the unalienable right to identify how i choose. That is my First Amendment Right.

Susan, what Sex am I?

In October 1985, I was given a diagnosis after a quick examination at a fertility clinic of "undervirilised fertile male syndrome (PAIS-1)".

In October 2005, after a number of really interesting and unusual natural bodily changes, and MRIs, CAT scans, Ultrasounds, Blood and Chromosome tests to try to find the reason for them, the diagnosis was changed to "severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman".

My Medicare records say F, my Birth certificate M.

So, what do I put on my next job application without lying?

Cathy and Gunner i wanted to address your concerns in a separate comment.

if you want there to be a separate category for trans folk in terms of government documentation then perhaps y'all should work on it. Whenever i have brought this up to gays and lesbians i use to work with they looked at me like i had three eyes and two heads. Gunner i am not so sure about surgery being out of reach for most who say they want it....
I did it on a part time job a disability pension living in southern California where the cost of living is second only to San Fransisco and New York.
You just have to be a little resourceful. I hear this line from a lot of people you know..."surgery costs too much" come to find out they were just not being honest and were non-op. it seems for some misrepresenting the truth comes easy....

Gunner; the no match letter you received was due to someone in HR not following instructions no fault of your own. when I applied for a job at Loral Data Systems back in 1980 i told them i was transgender, back then the word was new thanks to Victoria Prince who wanted to distance herself and others like her from TS folk. At the time i had not planned on surgery. Nobody paid a second thought.

I would go on to disagree with you in regards to there being monetary barriers to surgery. If surgery was offered tomorrow for free and you could choose your surgeon the majority still wouldn't have surgery, you might and i know a few who would however i know many who would still not have surgery even with the advanced state of M2F surgery.

I know unemployment and under employment is an issue in the TG/TS communities. I have seen the numbers from a scientifically crafted needs assessment we designed here some years ago. Even then you and I have not seen all the TG/TS population Many TS move on after transition and woodwork themselves we never hear from them again unless we have some tie with them as i do with about a dozen who have moved on and left the TG/TS community. Usually they never get put into the few credible statistics that end up on the web.

Take care
Susan Robins

Well we will only get our seprate catagory Sue if we all work for it not just a lone voice in the wilderness.That means everyone Gay Les Bi and yes even Trans Folk who have moved on.So if anyone out wants to help plant this idea into the minds of the folks who seem to have the power of suggestion maybe we can get that goal or lots of us will have to remain in the shadows untill we can come out of them.Thats the big problem in the Trans community is that to many of us have to be in the shadows as to what we are.

I'm pretty new around here, and I don't know all the rules, so I should probably let the better angels of my nature rule the day and just keep quiet.

I'm not going to, though.

Susan, please do not push your paleo-worldview and elitist trans-identity politics on me or anyone else. It's patently clear that's what you're doing, and your attempt to hide it behind a high-minded defense of "telling the truth on job applications" looks pathetically childish.

You want others to respect your right to right to identify as you choose? Try respecting that same right in others.

The right to determine my legal identity as a man or woman should not belong to the doctor who delivers me or the gender surgeon who performs my surgery, nor should it belong to the government. It certainly doesn't belong to you.

Zoe you face the same problem many intersex persons face. for that there is no "pat answer"
If it w3ere me i would leave the sex question blank and explain to your employer what is going on.

it always comes back to being honest with your prospective employer.


Take care
Susan Robins

Allyson
Welcome This is one of the few places the alternative voice can be heard, except for the lists i moderate and one other i am on.



Susan, please do not push your paleo-worldview and elitist trans-identity politics on me or anyone else. It's patently clear that's what you're doing, and your attempt to hide it behind a high-minded defense of "telling the truth on job applications" looks pathetically childish.

I am not pushing anything on anybody Allyson.
you might think it is childish however when your next employer finds out your credibility as an employee would reach a new low. That is the massage i am trying to get across.
If it bothers you that much please ask yourself wh7y, it's not my fault.



The right to determine my legal identity as a man or woman should not belong to the doctor who delivers me or the gender surgeon who performs my surgery, nor should it belong to the government. It certainly doesn't belong to you.

you know i have heard a lot of complaining about this over the last few years and Nobody seems to be doing anything about it.

Perhaps some of the "activists" should work on the problem instead of attacking the messenger.

You know those TS who came before me here in California took care of this problem back in the late 70's. Now i know this is not as glamorous and has the support base as some other causes however asking for employment rights before you can legally define yourself is putting the cart before the horse.

Allyson i should tell you i have friends who cannot change their birth records let alone their Social security status for one reason or another. I sympathize with this cause.

one last thing.
If you want to call me arrogant for pointing the obvious problem in this issue that being those who lie to their prospective employers then i shall wear that label with pride.

Take care
Susan Robins

Vivian Benge | December 3, 2007 11:46 PM

Susan,

As you are aware, there is no large scale data available. A quick web search, as well as a library search, will pull up small surveys and small studies that are often incomplete and flawed, therefore assailable. Knowing that you are aware of this, I have to ask myself why you would attack the anecdotal evidence we do have?

The most interesting answer is that discerning truth and making progress toward solving the problems may not be your goal. You assert that there is only 'one' way to “know” in this world and it is your way, i.e., a large scale scientific study that creates replicable data. You seem unwilling to allow that there is another way to gather data to support a case. It is called clinical data or anecdotal evidence in the medical and social science research fields. It has statistical significance, if not as strong as a large scale, empirical research study.

Therefore, this clinical/anedotal experience is used to gather evidence and target the questions to be asked in larger scale studies which you seem to think are the only ones that can have meaning. Those large scale studies are often not possible without the guidance of clinical data. The same is true of data gathered by organizations that serve populations one wants to learn about. Also, collecting data about human beings is a messy business, certainly more so than in the hard sciences which makes anecdotal evidence critical for interpreting statistical raw data. That is one reason I use it here.

There is also a fact, which you surely know, being a real (no longer trans) woman, and now beyond having been socialized in both genders, and that is this. The argument you are using – that our anecdotal/clinical knowledge (as that of other minorities) is worthless because it is based on the collective experiences of people with some shared experience, but not gathered “scientifically” – has been used to invalidate the experience of minorities and women in America for a couple of hundred years. They say, “we can’t change anything because you can’t prove, scientifically that you have been harmed. Oh, and there’s no money to do that research, sorry.”

Since you were alive during the period 1960 to 1990, I suspect you also saw this scenario play out time and again during successive civil rights struggles. It is now verified and in every social and legal history on that period assigned to graduate students. And being older, I lived through those times while fighting for women’s right to gender self-determination and helping minorities to overcome employment discrimination, before and after I came out as trans in 1990.

As you no doubt know, from your experiences as a woman regarding sex discrimination in the last 30 years, the white male power structure in this country has used your reasoning to minimize women’s collective experience and to maintain discriminatory laws well into the 1980s, as well as to win employment discrimination cases brought by women who wished to express gender outside the norms in employment. As a transgender female living as a male until 1992, and providing employment services to women over a 32 year career, I know that this battle still rages, despite much accumulated “scientific” data verifying what women and minorities have said about their experience of discrimination.

My point is not that you are entirely wrong about the need for scientific data. You clearly have a good point to make for the long term success of our civil rights movement. Rather, it is that such data alone will not solve the problem. If that were true, discrimination would not be a problem for any minority in the U.S. Instead, I suggest that both kinds of data are critical to success.

Anecdotal evidence, such as I and others have sited on this blog is just as valid and valuable in helping us to reach our goal of a world where each person can be judged on his/her/hir own merits in employment and other areas of life. And one kind of data often points the way to the gathering of the other, which usually verifies experiences of discrimination on a large scale. As a matter of fact, if congress only acted on empirical evidence, the Civil Rights Act would have been passed many years after it actually was, since precious little well gathered data was available, just as is the case today for LGBT people.

Vivian

Sue writes
"Perhaps some of the "activists" should work on the problem instead of attacking the messenger."

Perhaps some of the messengers in transgender community should support the activists working on things and not be so judgmental...

What have you done to support transgender activism in the last year? Given money, lobbied elected official, sent out action alerts to your circle of friends or shown up at an event/rally?

Sorry to sound so snarky, but as someone who has been doing transactivism for over 10 years and has lost a number of friends to violence and suicide and carries around too many stories of discrimination I have little patience for messengers who are criticize for the sake of it, not constructively.

We as a community are really good at attacking our own, particularly those who go out everyday and do the activism - I think it is time to stop playing that game - have we not learned from other movement's mistakes and that attacking our own is just what our opposition wants us to do?

My activist work has been to eliminate surgery requirements for changing ID documents, because about the only thing I agree with you is that some transgender people do not want surgery and that does not make them (or me, as one of them) any less transgender or the gender they see themselves as.

But not having surgery or not changing you ID docs does not mean you are "lying" to employers if you live as that gender.

Jessica Bussert | December 4, 2007 11:11 AM

For years the medical community, along with conservative politicians, religious leaders, and various others have spent a huge amount of energy trying to define me and tell me how I should live my life. Their meddling interference has caused me no end of pain and suffering.

This behavior began moments after I popped out of the womb and some doctor cursed me with an incorrect label based upon a few ounces of flesh found between my legs. That doctor had no way to check the much more important pounds of flesh found between my ears. His incorrect -assumption-, his -mistake-, has plagued me all my life.

I KNOW what my gender is. I don't need or want some doctor trying to define such a critical part of my being for me, especially based upon such arbitrary and often confused indicators. How often is a genetics test performed on a child? And as Zoe has pointed out, what good would that do anyway?

Why should I be required to perpetuate a mistake made by a fallible and uninformed doctor over 42 years ago?

And why should I give the bigots and hate-mongers even more ammunition to shoot me with?

What really frightens me is that Susan is in a position of authority to help make and improve public policy and opinion on trans issues, and she herself holds such ancient and outdated views.

Sincerely,
Jessica Bussert

-/-

I'll close with just a little piece of trivia from Merriam-Webster:

paleo-
Etymology: Greek palai-, palaio- ancient, from palaios, from palai long ago; probably akin to Greek t?le far off, Sanskrit carama last
1 : involving or dealing with ancient forms or conditions
2 : early : primitive : archaic

From my perspective, it's time to let the ancient and archaic modes of thought die away and make room for more progressive and informed views...
-J

I see this thread is still alive so I thought if share a little poem I wrote last year and maybe open a few peoples mind up to what being Trans is all about.

Being Transgendered
By Caty the Ghost © 2006

Being Trans is a state of mind
Being Trans is a state of body
From the wonderful Cross dressers
To the pre op girl or to the post op sister or brother.

For we are many
we are varied in who we are
Some of us are models some of us are firemen police officers soldiers doctors lawyers teachers some own a business some are actors some are scientists and some of us work that oldest of professions yes you know the one.

We have many wonderful names that we are called sometimes used as insults
SHEMALE TRANNY AND LADYBOY
Come to mind

For we are here we are there we are everywhere
Ah you scratch your head I see brothers you are asking? Yes to be Trans includes women who wish to become male! they are few but they are here to, so you see to be Trans is a state of mind as well as body

Enjoy Cathy

Hi Vivian,


As you are aware, there is no large scale data available. A quick web search, as well as a library search, will pull up small surveys and small studies that are often incomplete and flawed, therefore assailable. Knowing that you are aware of this, I have to ask myself why you would attack the anecdotal evidence we do have?

I find issue with your conclusion for the reasons i stated I would add that you also couch it in an air of authority which in my mind sets off the propaganda alarm. it reminds me too much of the Neo-Coms talking about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. I know political anologies are cheap however this one fits. Had you couched what had to say in terms that were not carry such an air of authority i could go along with what you had to say.... for example; you could have said...
I estimate that there are possibly thousands of no match letters that have gone out to employers of TG folk. instead what you said you passed it off as fact, that is misrepresentation of the issue in my book.

I am not saying there has been no measurable harm done to transfolk I merely take issue with plucking numbers out your locality and generalizing that being true for the rest of the country.

I know people are being discriminated against because of their gender identity and that is wrong however the way you and others approach it by trying to export propaganda is lame I am Sorry, you can do better then that if you are willing to put the effort toward the issue.

My point is not that you are entirely wrong about the need for scientific data. You clearly have a good point to make for the long term success of our civil rights movement. Rather, it is that such data alone will not solve the problem. If that were true, discrimination would not be a problem for any minority in the U.S. Instead, I suggest that both kinds of data are critical to success.

You are correct Vivian, scientific data won't win the battle alone. I should point out the fastest way to undo what has already been done in any movement is by damaging the credibility that movement has earned by presenting a guess as something that is factual. Rather i am wrong about the need for scientific date may in fact be true but pulling numbers out of thin air for all to shoot down as being inaccurate presents a flaw in your approach to this issue.

Take care

Susan Robins

Cathy That was Great!
Thank you for sharing that poem.

Take care
Susan Robins

Y'know, I've stayed out of this one until now mainly because a lot of what I'd have said has already been said by others, but I will say this:

A lot of us, as Zoe alluded to, find ourselves in a "Catch-22". If we're honest up front about who we are as transpeople we're labeled pushy militants, but if we try to be discreet we're accused of being deceitful liars. Unless you have a forward-thinking company and management, transfolks are usually, in my experience, the last to be hired and the first to be let go.

I've personally been outed by SSA to my employers at least twice (that I know of), once resulting in my almost immediate termination. Unfortunately, here in NJ, as well as in 48 other states, there's "at will" employment, which means an employer is not required to give a reason for firing an employee.

In my case, my boss simply told me one day that I was being laid off, thanks and have a nice life, pick up your check on Friday. I later discovered through friends that this so-called "layoff" had affected just me and only me, and was mandated by the company's district manager, a man who was friendly and on a first name basis with most of the staff I worked with, but who had never spoken to me once in the entire time I'd worked there.

There was already a pro-trans non-discrimination NJ State Superior Court decision on the books, but no lawyer would take my case, and even the ACLU wouldn't do as much as recommend a lawyer who might consider it. Out of work and with little money, I had no choice but to let it drop because no lawyer nor even the state Division on Civil Rights would fight for me. It was the decision of the NJDCR that it wasn't in the state's interest to bother pursuing my case. My own interests, compliance with the Court's ruling, or even just simple justice, of course, didn't enter into it.

The way I deal with it now is the only way that makes any sense anymore the way things are now: I say nothing. The vast majority of job applications do not ask for gender, and my name was legally changed in 2001, so I simply present myself as I am and let the chips fall where they may. While I pass pretty well in a casual situation, anyone who spends more than a few minutes with me is going to know I'm trans anyway, so rather than make an issue of it either way, I simply let those who interview me draw their own conclusions. It's not lying to simply keep one's mouth shut about personal issues that don't impact one's work performance.

Sue,

I think there are two places where I still disagree with you. The first is the issue of lying. Courts have interpreted "legal sex" to mean a variety of different things (in some cases chromosomes, in others as a person lives, or records in the DMV, or SSA, or county records). And when a form doesn't even specify "legal sex" but just asks for gender, I don't think it's lying at all to answer based on a standard other than birth certificate. You might see this as misleading, I'd still disagree, but can you honestly see this as a lie?

And the second area, I can begin to see your point when you say:

I can tell you from personal experience it is better to get along with then then it is to fight then because you won't win and the Gays and Lesbians won't stand by you.

Sometimes it's a lot easier to just keep your head down, pick your battles, and go into survival mode. Whenever possible, I try to make change so that the trans folk who come after me will have an easier time, but I refuse to fault anyone just for focusing on their own survival.

However, what you are advocating here is more than just not fighting transphobic policies. You seem to want to enforce them:

The other issue [lying] is sound grounds to fire many transgender employees and I would first in line to do the firing.

Enthusiastically attacking other transpeople may be useful in garnering respect from transphobic establishments, but that's more than just keeping your head down. There's a history, which I'm sure you're aware of, of denigrating transpeople for "deception" or "lying" when we are simply trying to be ourselves.

Firing someone for "lying" on their job application because they identified their gender based on how they are interpreted in the world is nothing more than discrimination in my book. And if you're in a jurisdiction that outlaws such discrimination, I'd encourage anyone who receives such treatment from you to take you to court.

There's a good recent precedent for that too. The judge in Georgia found that Michelle Bruce did not "lie" when she ran her election campaign as a woman -- despite a birth certificate that indicated otherwise. There's obviously other precedents used against trans people, but you're on shaky ground to say the least.

Since you were talking in the hypothetical, I would guess you haven't fired trans people for identifying their gender yet. However, I'd really encourage you to reconsider your position, or at least change any forms you work with to be very specifically referencing "Sex on birth certificate" instead of "Gender."

The way I deal with it now is the only way that makes any sense anymore the way things are now: I say nothing. The vast majority of job applications do not ask for gender, and my name was legally changed in 2001, so I simply present myself as I am and let the chips fall where they may. While I pass pretty well in a casual situation, anyone who spends more than a few minutes with me is going to know I'm trans anyway, so rather than make an issue of it either way, I simply let those who interview me draw their own conclusions. It's not lying to simply keep one's mouth shut about personal issues that don't impact one's work performance.
Rebecca this is in my opinion the best way to deal with it whenever possible. whatever happens down the line you are put in any situation where anyone can say you misrepresented yourself.

Take care
Susan Robins


Hi Tobi
as to your first statment yes over the years some states have chosen to use different criteria to determine legal sex.... however in most cases the Birth Certificate trumps all.


As to your second point you disagree with me on;
All i have to do is point to ENDA and both the HRC's poll and one run here by the Gay and Lesbian Times, both of which prove to me that while there are gays and lesbians here at TBP who are supportive, overall gays and lesbians Don't support transfolk and their fight for civil rights. The proof is out there for my statement that Gays and Lesbians Don't support the fight for civil rights for transfolk.

one last item to consider and this is for all of you.
Every job application i have filled in my entire life has a statement above where you sign your name which you agree by signing that all the information on that application is true.

Take care

Susan Robins

Sue,

I don't want to go back and forth forever, especially as you seem to be missing my point. But let me try one last clarification.

I'm not questioning whether or not gays and lesbians support tranfolk, I am questioning whether or not YOU DO.

And when asked what their gender is, if a trans woman says she's a woman or a trans man says he's a man -- regardless of documentation -- that is the truth. I'd be willing to say so under oath.

What startles, and frankly disgusts, me is that not only do you see that as a lie, but you would seek punitive repercussions for transfolk who "lie" in such a manner.

It appears that the "ex" part of your identity includes actively stigmatizing trans people not as "advanced" as yourself in exchange for further legitimacy of your own identity.

I'm not questioning whether or not gays and lesbians support tranfolk, I am questioning whether or not YOU DO.

Gee...

Since i have a trans past, Since i am the President of Neutral Corner (a TG.TS support group and non profit organization founded in 1982) and sense half my friends are ether trans or have trans history.
The answer would be YES.

I don't see your gender identity as a lie.
rather it is what the federal government or your employer see as a legal fact is what i am trying to point out.
What disgusts you is that i have the courage to point out the difference between you "think is your right to identify" as you wish and the legal facts of life.
Your issue Tobi is not with me Don't Shoot the Messenger.

One more thing...

It appears that the "ex" part of your identity includes actively stigmatizing trans people not as "advanced" as yourself in exchange for further legitimacy of your own identity.

For me and most of the people who are driven to M2F surgery it's about fixing a birth defect and getting on with life. Now i won't speak for those F2M's who transition I don't know anything about that aspect of transsexualism and therefore cannot speak for them.
We didn't chose to transition we were driven to do it because we were borne in the wrong body.
Nobody is stigmatizing anybody for most of us who are driven to have surgery it's about living a normal life as a member of the female half of society.

Take care

Susan Robins

Sue
Glad you liked my poem.

It was great Cathy....

I have made my points in this thread...

Transfolk really need to try and meet straight folk half way at least....
if 20% of the population were trans we wouldn't be having this discussion right now. it would have been discussed by my parents back in the 60's and there would have been trans inclusion in civil rights law for some 43 years now.

when a group is a minority like transfolk something like .3% of the population according to figures that are 30+ years old (nobody really knows what the true figures are) There isn't the basis to try and use bruit force tactics like were used in the 60's. People just laugh and get their burger and fries and get on with life.

Y'all have to take a different tact...
if y'all don't find another way of making civil rights progress the TG/TS communities could have the yoke of Jerry Springer around their necks from now on.


My point is made now it is time remember what i have said and ether keep doing the same thing and here me say i told Y'all so or start thinking outside of the box and plow sine new ground.

Take care

Susan Robins