Alex Blaze

Why ENDA's necessary

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 07, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: bellamy, Florida, McDonalds, orlando, transgender

I posted this morning the message a McDonald's manager left on a transgender applicant's machine. Here's the transcript the TLDEF put together, via Autumn:

TLDEF Files Employment Discrimination Complaint with Florida Commission on Human Relations Against McDonald's for Refusing to Hire Transgender Woman"You went to (indistinguishable) McDonalds today. It doesn't matter how many times you go down there: You will not get hired. We do not hire faggots.

"You lied to me. You told me you was a woman. And then you lied to me. You told me you were seventeen. I can't believe you. You're a lying brother (indistinguishable). How could you ever lie to me? We will never..."

This person doesn't seem to be making many distinctions between different kinds of "faggots," proving, once again, that distinctions made within the LGBTQ community are often only visible to us. Sure, most people would get the distinction between transgender and gay, but some people just aren't willing to listen to an explanation. Something tells me this manager wouldn't be amenable to a discourse on the DSM-IV and the history of the LGBTQ movement and stop and think that maybe he was denouncing the wrong sort of faggot.

In the end, though, this case is sad all around. Here's someone applying for a job that probably doesn't pay a living wage, that has no security and is unlikely to have any benefits. And she got rejected from that job. Do we realize how far gone we are when a group of people has been determined unfit to even work for unrealistically low compensation?

Currently, the TLDEF and Bellamy are building shame on this case, as they should be. But there aren't any specific protections for her under Florida law:

In Florida, while no law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act's prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination. The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.

Orlando doesn't have a trans-inclusive ordinance either. Even if they did, what's to prevent this from happening just over the border in a suburb?

Usually discrimination is a lot more subtle than this. But these shocking cases make LGBT discrimination a public issue. Maybe the manager in question would have found another way to discriminate against Bellamy, maybe McDonald's would have had better manager training and he would have thought twice.

We can't really know unless the law passes, but at least there would be redress in situation's like this.


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Calahan Miller | December 7, 2009 5:44 PM

Does anyone else see the complete irony in there being an ad for McDonald's right in the middle of this story ...???

Haha. I don't get any of those! Then they're probably country-specific. I'm just getting a lot of online gambling ads.

coloredqueer | December 7, 2009 7:12 PM

"""Usually discrimination is a lot more subtle than this.""""

Similar analogy applies to gay institutions..people always find a way around laws to discriminate -- have you ever wondered or publcly questioned why senior staff in gay institutions is almost always white?

If people want to discriminate they would find a way around laws -- ask any person of color and they would be happy to share their experiences and tell you the tales of discrimination despite all the laws which exist on books.

"This person doesn't seem to be making many distinctions between different kinds of "faggots," proving, once again, that distinctions made within the LGBTQ community are often only visible to us."

Wow, you are right! We should define ourselves and our movement based on what a bigoted manager at McDonald's thinks. Which other beliefs held by this guy should we use to define ourselves?

I think that begs the old queer theory question: If there was no homophobia, would there be gay people?

Discriminators don't give a whit about how we define ourselves. To many of them, transgender people are the gayest of the gay - the faggiest of the fags - the queerest of the queers.

They see a fag when they look into this trans girl's eyes and they see your face looking back at them.


Come on, folks -- you've not been shy before: please, tell us why the T doesn't belong yet again, since we have this case here as an example.

Alex, this dovetails nicely with a piece I'm working on

Melissa Dunagan | December 8, 2009 4:22 AM

I will never understand who people can be so hateful. I believe if you hurt someone ether financial, emotional or fiscal you have sinned. I but this man if you where to ask him if he was a Christian. It seem to me that Christians can be so hateful ti other people.

Sure, most people would get the distinction between transgender and gay, but some people just aren't willing to listen to an explanation.

Does there REALLY need to be a distinction when it comes to fighting discrimination? Discrimination is, at it's heart, making distinctions. Separating, singling out, categorizing, labeling, etc.

I say it's better to just throw out all the "protections" in the first place and simply make one rule: "don't discriminate in the work place for ANY reason OTHER than the ability (or inability) to do the job... period"

Why does there have to be "special protections" for sex, gender, age, disability, race, ethnicity, orientation, identity, etc. The reason people are saying it's getting ridiculous is because it IS getting ridiculous. It doesn't have to be this complicated!

I'm a Post-Op M2F so I do understand the concept I'm talking about... I've faced my fair share of bigotry and prejudice. That's really what this is about. I prefer a work place that is discriminatory in that they pick the right person for the right job. But bigotry has no place in the work place, and THAT's the fight that we should be fighting.

Anyway, that's my $0.02.

Don't call me T, don't call me blonde, girl, faggot, homo, geek, dork, bitch, etc.... just call me Jenna... for that's MY label.

I definitely agree, Jenna. I always thought that being against "discrimination" is a sort of self-defeating and silly position. We are in fact *asking* for (certain kinds of) discrimination by calling for protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.

However the activist and organizer in me also sees how we *need* to argue for (certain kinds of) discrimination. For example, here in DC, our Human Rights Law explicitly states that trans people have the right to use our chosen/preferred name on job applications, even if they haven't legally changed it yet, and that this cannot be considered a form of fraud. Without that kind of specific language that does indeed "discriminate" against trans people, employers can (and have) gotten away with denying trans people jobs based on the fact that they "lied" by using their actual name as opposed to their legal name on job applications. So, in order to help more people get out of poverty, it makes strategic sense to fight for that kind of explicit discrimination.

In a broader sense, I'm not convinced that discrimination is entirely a bad thing. By calling myself an MTF or a lesbian, I'm definitely discriminating myself from other people by saying "I've had particular experiences and belong to certain communities that are important to me which other people have not had." It helps me identify with other people who *have* had similar experiences and build a supportive community, which I think is pretty great.

I guess what I'm saying is, there is "positive" discrimination that helps people and "nevagtive" discrimination that oppresses and harm people.

Similar analogy applies to gay institutions..people always find a way around laws to discriminate -- have you ever wondered or publcly questioned why senior staff in gay institutions is almost always white?

Make no mistake, I agree with this sentiment entirely...

But, magnify it by a hundred or so for the wonderment at the lack of trans people (of any race, ethnicity or sex) in such positions.

Come on, folks -- you've not been shy before: please, tell us why the T doesn't belong yet again

Well, John Aravosis has - by omission: http://endablog.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/absence/