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New York Times: "New Protections for Transgender Federal Workers"

From the New York Times‘s New Protections for Transgender Federal Workers:

Lawyers for President Obama are quietly drafting first-of-their kind guidelines barring workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees, officials said Tuesday.

The guidelines will be in an updated federal handbook for managers and supervisors to be distributed and posted online in the next couple of months, and they could also be included in other materials for managers. They will list transgender people – those who identify their gender differently from the information on their birth certificates – as among several groups protected by antidiscrimination laws.

Though transgender men and women are not believed to make up more than a fraction of a percent of the federal work force, their inclusion in the discrimination guidelines is seen as a breakthrough by transgender and gay rights advocates.

“The president is making a very clear statement that transgender people won’t be discriminated against,” said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, a group that has been talking with the White House about the new provisions…

I realize that many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people aren’t aware that the one really big change with the Obama Administration memorandum of last week is going to be for transgender people in the federal workforce.

What many of you don’t know about me was that before my disabilities made a “real job” impossible for me to hold anymore, I worked at the Veterans Administration’s San Diego Medical Center as an Program Assistant. While I worked at the VA, I was an very out, very newly transitioned transsexual woman. My name change to Autumn Sandeen actually occured during between my first interview for the job and actually being hired.

Gender identity and expression was not a protected class while I was working at the VA: I could have been fired at any time for being transgender if my superiors determined that being transgender impeded me from doing my job effectively. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

So, this upcoming change in federal regulations feels very personal to me.  

And currently, I know of at least two other trans workers are working now at the same VA Medical Center I worked at; these transgender protections the Obama Administration are working for transgender federal employees matter. These federal workers deserve job protections for their gender identity and expression.

With that in mind, a fully inclusive Employement Non-Discrimination Act is going to be submitted to Congress this week by Rep. Barney Frank. Every LGBT American deserves these same nondiscrimination protections related to their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression that all federal employees are soon going to have.

So, I’m keeping these things in mind while I’m rejoicing for trans federal employees. Don’t mind me if I shed as tear or two of joy over this.

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen