Monday, October 12, 2009

ENDA Suits Us to a (LGB)T

By Stephen Wiseman, former ENC intern

As I started a new job last week, I once again thought about my lack of protection as a queer person in the workplace.

My new employment comes only weeks after the House Committee on Education and Labor heard testimony about the devastating impact of workplace discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This hearing was part of the Committee’s work on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), HR 3017, which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Vandy Beth Glenn, was immediately fired from her job at the Georgia state legislature when she informed her supervisor she was transitioning from male to female. Unfortunately, Ms. Glenn’s experience is one that is all too common within the transgender community.

Over the summer I worked with the National Gay and Lesbian Task force analyzing data from the National Survey of Transgender Discrimination, a groundbreaking survey on discrimination against transgender people in the United States.

Data from this large-scale (6450 respondents), first-of-its-kind survey show that discrimination in employment against transgender people is a nearly universal experience: 97 percent of the respondents reported being mistreated or harassed at work, and nearly half (47 percent) said they had lost their jobs, were denied a promotion, or denied a job as a direct result of being transgender. Results from this survey (a partnership between the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality) were submitted as testimony to the Committee.

We are at a critical point in defining the state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and particularly transgender Americans. The passage of ENDA will go a long way in ensuring individuals are able to contribute their talents and skills in the workplace, free from discrimination.

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