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Powerful Trans Testimony at ENDA Senate Hearing

Powerful Trans Testimony at ENDA Senate Hearing

 

A trans rights advocate has, for the first time, been given the opportunity to speak at a Senate hearing into the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The hearing, which occurred Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, saw Kylar Broadus, founder of Trans People of Color Coalition, speak out about the discrimination he faced upon announcing his transition, this despite a long history of hard work and dedication to his job. This, he said, is a reality for trans, lesbian, bisexual and gay people throughout America who are still not protected under federal law.

Reports the Washington Blade:

“At work, when I decided to actually transition, I had been there for a number of years, and I’m a workaholic, and it was disheartening to me that all this could be pulled out from under me because people weren’t comfortable with the person that I am,” Broadus said.

His written testimony details receiving harassing phone calls, receiving assignments after hours that were due early next morning and being forbidden from talking to certain people.

“I still sit here today with almost tears in my eyes,” Broadus said. “It’s devastating, it’s demoralizing and dehumanizing to be put in that position.”

Broadus said his treatment at the job and being forced out impacted him emotionally, causing him post-traumatic stress disorder, and led to period of unemployment for about a year from which he still hasn’t financially recovered.

You can watch Mr Broadus’ full testimony below:

The Senate hearing also saw testimony from a representative from the Williams Institute, a think tank that wishes to advance critical thinking on sexual orientation and gender identity issues. The testimony refuted claims that there was no need for these protections, saying in part:

Findings from recent surveys of transgender employees confirm similar and even more common experiences of discrimination. For example, in the largest survey of transgender people to date, 78% of respondents reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity. More specifically, 47% had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention.

A different source of data supports the finding that discrimination based on sexual orientation is common, and perhaps as common as other kinds of discrimination, relative to population size. My colleagues and I collected the numbers of sexual orientation discrimination complaints in states that outlawed such treatment from 1999-2007. The number of complaints in each state is relatively small compared with the overall level of complaints filed at state agencies. But once we adjust for the population size of the different protected groups, we see that LGB people are as likely to file complaints as women and people of color. The annual rate of complaints was 4.7 per 10,000 LGB people on average in these states (assuming that LGB people are 4.1% of the U.S. population). That figure is quite similar to the number of sex discrimination complaints per woman (5.4 per 10,000 women) and race-related complaints per person of color (6.5 per 10,000). In other words, LGB people are about as likely to file discrimination complaints as are people in groups that are currently protected against discrimination under federal law.

[...]

To sum up, several decades of research demonstrate that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity exists in our nation’s workplaces. This discrimination hurts LGBT people financially and in other harmful ways. Our nation’s employers and employees would be better off with an LGBT workforce that no longer fears discrimination. The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would benefit both employees and employers.

[Read the full testimony here.]

There were however some dissenting voices, but not as many as you might expect. Not a single Republican committee member turned up for the hearing, despite the fact that the legislation has bipartisan support and that they had over a month’s notice. The reason for this is as yet unknown.

There was one Republican witness who spoke out against ENDA however. Craig Parshal of the National Religious Broadcasters Association, argued that religious institutions should be able to discriminate freely against LGBT people per their faith, implying that ENDA would be chilling to freedom of conscience. His claims were refuted however because ENDA has built in to it broad exemptions for religious institutions and some associated businesses.

ENDA has stalled in Congress for over a decade now despite widespread bipartisan support. It is hoped that with a renewed push by the Senate the bill might finally gain traction, however Republican House Speaker John Boehner has previously said he is “unaware” of the legislation – strange given that his focus has been on jobs – but that he imagines the necessary safeguards are already in place.

This suggests that, like all other LGBT rights issues, ENDA would receive a hostile reception in the lower chamber while it remains under Republican control.

 

Related Reading:

Landmark Employment Ruling Protects Trans Rights

Boehner Totally Blase About ENDA

Obama Won’t Sign LGBT Discrimination Ban Anytime Soon

 

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.

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17 comments

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11:24AM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

thanks

10:14AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Poor John M. - He hasn't got the brains he was born with!

10:09AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

If a person is qualified for a job, they should be hired to do the job. It should make absolutely no difference whether they are gay, lesbian, transgender, Muslim, Catholic, black, white, red, yellow, or purple with blue flowers.

"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?"
-----------------------------William Shakespeare, "The Merchant of Venice"

10:09AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

To take John M. at his word, he was apparently born into ignorance and only wishes to be smart.

9:54AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

A good first step!

9:23AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Once again John M., every time there is an article on Transsexual people you make the exact same statement -- and as always, you show how totally ignorant you are. I am always amazed when I see people making snap judgements about people they don't understand. The people that do this never even bother to educate themselves on the subject either. The ignorance toward Transsexual people is simply shocking to say the least -- and as a Lesbian, I can say that this is even true in the 'LGB' community as well.

We all start out as female in the womb. Many people are born with birth defects or diseases like harelips, MS, diabetes, cleft-palates, hearts on the OUTSIDE of the body etc. People have no problem accepting these things because they can actually SEE them. So why is it so hard for people to understand that sometimes when a fetus develops into a 'male' form that the brain may NOT continue to develop (or fully develop) from female into male form? Because people CAN'T SEE that difference!

Please take the time to educate yourself on a subject before you JUDGE someone based on what you THINK you know!

8:44AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

John M. - you're right. Trans folk are born with a brain that doesn't match their body. Since changing the brain is well beyond our technology (if it's even possible without), the medical profession concurs that the appropriate response to heal the brain/body breach is to undergo a (very) supervised process to make the body match the brain.

7:34AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

"The reason for this is as yet unknown" Unknown...your kidding, right!?!? There is nothing unknown here the the radical religious right has taken over the GOP and if they say don't go and listen to this person speak they won't go. I would be extremely surprise if this bill has bi-partisan support. If any GOP vote with the Dems it will be a hand full, if that; that is not what I call bipartisan support.

Kynthia R.thank you, this is the best explanation I have ever her...it's so simple even the GOP should understand.

6:59AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

You are what you were born into,NOT,what you wish to be!!!

4:38AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Greetings from Massachusetts. As an Ally, I must work ten times harder to help trans folks. I have a dear friend who is trans, and I hope that he will never have to suffer in the work place like so many others have. I felt very sad and heartsick when I read that there is a 50% suicide rate for trans folks. Allies, we gotta stand together to help our trans brothers and sisters.

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