Colonel Diane Schroer had an offer of a job at the Library of Congress rescinded when the person who was hiring her learned that she planned to transition from male to female. Schroer successfully sued the government for damages for discrimination based on sex, and has now been awarded nearly half a million dollars in back pay, emotional suffering, and out-of-pocket expenses.
The decision is significant not only because the judge found that Col. Schroer, as a transgender person, was, in fact, protected by existing federal anti-discrimination law, but because the court's rationale in making this decision struck so neatly and directly to the heart of the issue.
I'm no lawyer (and I hope those who are will speak to this in the comments), but this quote in particular strikes me as a major step forward from where the federal courts have traditionally come down on protections for transgender people:
"Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testified that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only 'converts.' That would be a clear case of discrimination 'because of religion.' No court would take seriously the notion that 'converts' are not covered by the statute."
From a layman's perspective, it seems that if this rationale becomes accepted precedent in deciding discrimination cases involving transpeople as discrimination based on sex it could literally make all the difference in future decisions. It seems crystal-clear in its logic and utterly basic in its application to the relevant law. Most importantly perhaps, there are no arcane legal complexities to be parsed and debated here. The court's position here is so clear and easy to understand that a child could grasp it.
Even more, imagine if this principle were applied in all jurisdictions where anti-discrimination protections which cover sex but not gender identity are already on the books. For transpeople seeking justice in the workplace, it might just be a game-changer.
Congratulations to Colonel Schroer on her victory and for her invaluable contributions to the cause of transgender equality. Congratulations also to the ALCU, which argued this case on Colonel Schroer's behalf and have helped to push the bar another step closer to full equality for all Americans.
It's a great day for justice, a great day for the cause of equality for all, and a great day for transgender Americans. And maybe, just maybe, a great step toward our future as truly equal citizens of the United States of America.