Like many people, I am in support of the ENDA (Employement Non-Discrimination Act) that Congress has recently debated, and passed, in the House, without the “T”. I thought that we should just pass it as is, because it’s important to get protections into place for members of the gay community. After all, I actually left two jobs – one in 1994 and one just this past Summer 2007 – due to rampant sexism and homophobia. The job I just left actually had a GLBT protection clause in place. But because the company is run by racist homophobes, when discrimination actually came down on me, the company chose to ignore it.
Well I continued to believe that the GLB of the GLBT should be protected. And then I met a cab driver in Portland named Rachel. Rachel is a transgendered woman who has had her cab vandalized dozens of times, threatening her livelihood. If Rachel doesn’t have a cab, Rachel doesn’t work. Her coworkers did everything they could to stop her from having a job, and her cab company stood by and didn’t do squat.
After submitting documentation multiple times, and being told they could be sued, business decisions won out and Rachel got protection. But what if they hadn’t? If the company was right winged bigots, like I experienced, Rachel would be out of a job and unable to make a living. Is that right? No, it’s not.
That’s why it’s important to protect the T in GLBT just as much as it is to protect the GLB members of the community.
The house is going to debate HR. 3685 this week, and Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin is planned to offer an amendment that will protect gender identify as part of the bill. Call your congressperson and tell them to support both the bill and the amendment!