With the recent events of the Supreme Court and marriage the LGBT community has much to be happy about. Yes there is work to be done in states where marriage laws need to be amended, struck down, or repealed. Organizations like Lambda Legal are on the case filing suits all over the country on behalf of couples who want to see progress made. What is alarming is that it seems to be the only song that is playing on the “LGBT radio.” Marriage, marriage, marriage. It would seem almost twenty-four hours a day, one song. And I have to pose the question, what about everything else?
Am I surprised? No. In fact I kind of foreshadowed it. And the sad part is the media has played along. There have been some pretty momentous changes for Trans folk in the past few weeks but I doubt few know of it. Certainly the fact that a handful of the reactionaries in congress are trying again for a one-man one-woman marriage amendment to the constitution seems to have overshadowed that news, or some legal activity that essentially codifies what SCOTUS has set into motion seems to be much more important out there. It’s OK; I will use this space to catch you all up.
This past week Gender Rights Maryland announced that in a letter to the LGB Caucus of the Maryland state legislature that the key Maryland state offices responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA a.k.a. “ObamaCare”) have agreed to insure that Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation anti-discrimination protections in the act will be put in place in Maryland as of October 1, 2013. Maryland will now join California, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia with such a policy. I know some are going “eh” but the reality is for transfolk this is huge. You see it has been quite common for insurance companies to deny any kind of coverage for transfolks just because they were Trans. Meaning that therapies they use for other folks would be routinely denied. For example, hormone therapy. This now means that if coverage is offered to anybody it must be offered to everybody, Trans or otherwise. This is a big step for equality for Trans persons in Maryland. It’s ok, you can shout about it and have a celebratory party later. But for once Maryland is not playing catch up here with the rest of the country.
The other matters concern the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Last year the commission determined that Trans discrimination was sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The case, Macy v. Holder, found that the ATF had discriminated in not hiring Mia Macy for a position they had previously offered her. Macy is an MtF Trans person. The Department of Justice, (DOJ) was instructed to correct those issues and this week did so by offering her back pay with interest, legal fees, and a job. It remains to be seen if she will actually take the job. I know how it is when you have been told they don’t want you someplace, you are usually reluctant to go back there.
In light of this another case brought in the private sector by Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal reached a settlement on another trans discrimination case with a Maryland defense contractor. That marks the first time such a thing has happened in private sector EEOC matter. This is also huge. The message is clear. It is no longer OK to discriminate against trans persons in employment. Anyplace in the U.S., period. Unfortunately there are legal naysayers who say it is not binding and that the Supremes have yet to see a case on such things. And so we should not vigorously pursue cases with the EEOC. Rubbish. That kind of argument could be applied to any matter, and if it was you would not have seen DOMA go there.
This reinforces the fact that the EEOC is now taking your employment discrimination claims nationally, with, or without, a local or state law that protects you for gender identity discrimination. My take is this is a new “right” we have right now, and we need to stop waiting for the future protections and embrace what is in front of us in the present. Rights, when not exercised vigorously atrophy from disuse. Nothing in these advances suggest we should not pursue things like the Employment Non Discrimination Act or other state level statutes but it does say get moving now! Go file your complaint, if you have one, now, today.
As to that broken record out there of the same song being played over and over again (marriage, marriage, marriage). I suggest you adjust your tuner, there are a lot of other stations to listen to.
As published in Baltimore OUTloud, 7/26/2013