Are transgender people protected from employment discrimination based on existing law protecting Americans from sex discrimination and sex stereotyping? On Friday, Judge James Robertson of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia said yes, ruling that the Library of Congress had discriminated against Diane Schroer when, after learning that she would be transitioning from male to female, the federal agency informed her that she was not a "good fit" for the job she had initially been offered.
Why was this sex discrimination? The ACLU LGBT Project’s Matt Coles wrote of the case, "The ACLU
says (to simplify a bit) that what the Library did is sex
discrimination because the Library was more than happy to hire Dave,
but wouldn’t hire Diane with the exact same abilities and
The court compared the discrimination faced by Schroer to
religious-based discrimination, saying, "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."
Nan Hunter notes that the Justice Department is likely to appeal this trial court decision, but that the ruling was based on a "full factual record, including expert testimony, on the key issue of gender identity being considered a component of sex" which will "make it more difficult (though not impossible) for the court of appeals to reverse it."
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Check out the ACLU’s press release on the decision (and get to know the stunningly qualified Diane Schroer, a decorated counter-terrorism specialist and veteran who applied for a position as research specialist in terrorism and international crime, a little better).