The House Committee on Education and Labor's subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on gender identity in the workplace on Thursday, June 26. Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) will chair the first ever congressional hearing to focus on gender identity and discrimination against transgender employees.
Among those on the speaker list is Shannon Minter, the transgender man who is the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights who recently argued on behalf of marriage equality in California, and Diane Schroer, a transgender veteran who was denied a job as a national security analyst when she transitioned. Also speaking will be a transgender employee from a Massachusetts HIV/AIDS service organization, as well as a representative of a Fortune 500 company that protects its employees against gender identity discrimination.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and even many heterosexual people challenge gender boundaries and may be the victims of discrimination as a result gender-identity/expression based bias. In fact, studies of "anti-gay" discrimination indicate that up to 75% of such discrimination is caused by a reaction to gender expression, not actual knowledge that someone is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Sexual orientation language does not cover a large portion of the discrimination we face. It is a giant, glaring loophole that is used against all of us. This is truly an issue that affects the entire community.
This is a much needed step to educating Washington politicians, and the general public, on employment discrimination due to gender identity and expression. We have to come together as a community to push for fully inclusive legislation that includes gender expression and identity in it.
Let's hope that this is another step towards protections for our transgender brothers and sisters, as well as all people who face discrimination based on their gender identity and expression.
Watch a video from the ACLU about Diane Schroer's experience with transgender discrimination.