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Information about transitioning

Published on November 7, 2007

Author: Melinda


Transitioning On The Job: :  Transitioning On The Job: Pragmatics and Perspective From a MTF Trade Unionist How my union helped me transition on the job after 18 years as a male.  :  How my union helped me transition on the job after 18 years as a male.   I met Lenny my union representative at the flag pole before work on July 25, 1996 . I asked him if he had five minutes for me. He said, “Of course, anything for you”. I showed him a professional picture portfolio of myself. How my union helped me !:  How my union helped me ! He asked, “What is this... are you a transvestite or drag queen or what?” I said, “Lenny, I have a serious problem, I am hoping you can help me. The pictures you see is how I live when I am not at work and how you see me now is how I look when I am working. It is too hard now to go back and forth. Can you help me?”  Slide13:  Lenny said, “I have to go inside and take care of a few things. I will be with you in 30 minutes.” So thirty minutes went by and I met with him … he asked, “How serious are you about this?” I said, “I am very serious. I live as Lisa and work as you see me now.”   Slide14:  Lenny called Labor Relations, “I have a situation here perhaps you can help me with.” Lenny and I went over to the Labor Relations office. We sat down and Lenny made a presentation that included my picture portfolio. Slide15:  At the conclusion of Lenny’s presentation, the person from Labor Relations said to me, “you are a very valuable employee. We are not going to fire you. How soon can you transition?”   I thought I had gone deaf and replied, “I can be back in an hour and a half." The manager said, “That’s not quite what I had in mind.”  Slide16:  A phone call was made to the Director of Operations and the three of us met and sat comfortably with the Labor Relations Representative explaining what was going to transpire on my behalf. The Director said, “We ought to call Steve, his manager, and explain what is going on.”   Slide17:  Steve my manager was called up to the Director’s office and when he walked in we were all sitting waiting for him. He remarked, “Isn’t this a comfortable gathering!” Steve sat down and I handed him the picture portfolio. Slide18:  He looked through the pictures and said, “This is you?” I said, “Yes it is”. He swallowed hard and then had a big grin on his face and said, “What size shoe do you wear?” I told him and we all had a good chuckle.   Slide19:  It was determined then and there I would take off three days the next week while the colleagues I worked with were presented with sensitivity training as to what was going to happen with me transitioning on the job. Five diversity/sensitivity training sessions were scheduled with the people I would interface with. Slide20:  Many of my colleagues were shocked and amazed. At the conclusion of each session, Labor Relations said, “We are behind Lisa 100% on this … Anyone teasing or hassling her will be seriously disciplined and or terminated.” Slide21:  I had my hair done Monday morning and got all of the documentation changed over at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, new bank accounts, auto registration and auto insurance. Slide22:  I reported to work on Thursday of the first week in August, 1996 as Lisa for the first time. Lenny my union representative met me in the Labor Relations Office. He did not know or recognize me. I had a new photo I.D. taken, and signed new insurance forms for my name change. Lenny and I walked to my work area and people’s jaws dropped. Slide23:  I suddenly became the talk of the plant … “gossip is a choice morsel that goes down to the inner most parts of the bowels.” Many comments were filtering back to me from colleagues I worked with. Slide24:  “It has a white suit on today, and it is wearing the hair in a French Twist!” … Slide25:  “I must have used the same bathroom Lisa used because the toilet seat was left up!” … (the cleaning crew had just gone through the ladies room) Slide26:  “Lisa may not be a woman, and he still looks pretty good” … Slide27:  One day I wore a jean skirt and tank top shirt to work. Labor Relations received a complaint about me being scantily clothed and I should be sent home to change. Slide28:  Another colleague said, “When are you going to take off the Halloween costume?” Slide29:  The jokes and snide comments about me on the studio lot were most humiliating, and hearing this from my fellow colleagues caused me great distress. Slide30:  I was constantly being referred to as he or sir to my face. People took great joy at publicly humiliating me at every opportunity. Slide31:  My colleagues complained loudly to my manager about not wanting to work with me on projects. Slide32:  Many folks laughed, smirked in my face and snickered at me in the hallways at work. Complete strangers greeted me in the hallway and said, “Good morning sir.” … Still it was going better than I thought it would. Slide33:  A team of five people was set up by Labor Relations and Human Resources to help me with my transition. When I shared some of my war stories with them, they would reply, “What did you expect? … suck it up … you can not change how people think about you.” This was the turning point where I realized another approach had to be taken. Slide34:  The insults and comments were starting to get to me. My work was getting sabotaged. I thought some of these folks could get me fired. I had no shop steward in my work area that I could ask for help. Slide35:  I decided to became a shop steward after one of my colleagues suggested I would make a great shop steward. After some thought, I took the petition around to be signed. I thought surely the union would be there for me as one of their own. Slide36:  My first shop stewards meeting was very cordial. People were pleasant. My fellow shop stewards tolerating someone like me, was completely new and foreign to them. As time progressed, and they came to know me, I became acceptable to them as an equal. Slide37:  My vast broadcast experience proved invaluable in technical conversations. Never once has there been an insulting comment towards me about my personhood in the past seven years. Slide38:  Two years ago in the fall of 2002, I received an invitation to attend the leadership School for the Pride At Work Los Angeles Chapter, held at the University of California, Los Angeles campus. Slide39:  Much to my surprise, the Executive Board and President approved my fees to attend this weekend of leadership training. There were about 40 people attending this two day conference. I was the only transgender person attending the Pride At Work Leadership School, and I might add, the only one wearing a dress! Slide40:  My local union president shortly after attending this leadership school asked me to coordinate the Member’s Assistance Program for the local. For many years, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 9, has had a Member's Assistance Program (MAP). Slide41:  MAP is a union based program aimed towards providing union members help when life's problems cause an adverse affect on their job performance and productivity. Slide42:  CWA has a vital interest in maintaining a safe, hostile free, healthy workplace for our members, free from the influence of violence, sexual harassment, discrimination, drugs and alcohol. Slide43:  I took on this new responsibility most earnestly and enrolled in many continuing educational classes in labor studies. This continuing education gave me a pretty good understanding of the challenges most unions face supporting their members. Slide44:  In June of 2004, I decided to run for Vice President of my local NABET CWA – Local 53 (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, Communications Workers of America, Local 53). In this race for Vice President, I ran against the incumbent and one other gentleman. Slide45:  My recent labor studies training gave me a good understanding of the issues our local faced. I ran on the issues, and much to my disbelief, there were no public slanders on my personhood as a transgender woman. I made it to the second run off election receiving many votes. The ballots were counted on August 31, 2004. I am now the Vice President elect of NABET CWA – Local 53. I take office on October 1, 2004 Slide46:  I am an active part of Pride At Work Los Angeles Chapter on the Steering Committee, and I am their web designer. I have received unfailing support and much encouragement for my abilities and the person I am as a transgender woman. I passionately believe in unions because of the nondiscrimination and total support I have received over the past eight years. Slide47:  Pride At Work is affiliated as the newest constituency group of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations). The purpose of Pride At Work is to mobilize mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community around organizing for social and economic justice. Slide48:  We seek full equality for LGBT Workers in their workplaces and unions. We work towards creating a Labor Movement that cherishes diversity, encourages openness, and ensures safety & dignity. We aim to educate the LBGT Community about the benefits of union membership for LGBT working people, and to build support and solidarity for the union movement in the LGBT community. Slide49:  We intend to do this in the spirit of the union movement's historic motto, "An Injury to One is An Injury to All." We oppose all forms of discrimination on the job and in our unions based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, religion or political views. Slide50:  The AFL-CIO strongly urges Congress to pass the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)." This important civil rights legislation will promote equal opportunity for all Americans by prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Slide51:  Since there is no federal law which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it is currently legal to fire working men and women in 39 states because of their sexual orientation. As a result, working people are now being denied employment on the basis of something that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work. Slide52:  The AFL-CIO strongly believes that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong and un-American. We recognize the contributions which gay and lesbian workers have made to our country and our labor movement. We steadfastly join hundreds of civil rights organizations, religious institutions, and responsible employers in urging Congress to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Slide53:  "I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because I believe in the fundamental values of fairness and equality -- values that are at the very heart and soul of the creed that unites us as a nation.“ President Bill Clinton Slide54:  "I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled our in pieces to suit political convenience. As my husband, Martin Luther King Jr. said, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' Like Martin, I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.“ Coretta Scott King Slide55:  "We protest any actions taken against a worker solely on the basis of sexual orientation and we support legislation to guarantee the civil rights of all persons without regard to sexual orientation in public and private employment. When a judge rules that an employee is not wrongfully terminated if he is being fired for being homosexual,' then it is time to change the law.“ Richard Womack, Director of Civil Rights Slide56:  "PAW advocates the view that persons identified as transgender and transsexual be included in ENDA, and that all efforts by the labor community and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual community be brought to bear to demand an end to discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression." Excerpt from PAW resolution - 3rd Biennial ENDA & the Workplace :  ENDA & the Workplace As our nation enters a new century when our survival depends upon the contributions of every American, we must understand that merit and hard work -- not bias and stereotypes -- are what counts in job opportunities and the workplace What would ENDA do? :  What would ENDA do? ENDA would prohibit discrimination on the basis of an individual's sexual orientation in hiring, firing, promotions, compensations, and other employment decisions. Currently, there is no federal law protecting individuals from this kind of discrimination; and today in America, millions of citizens can be fired simply for being gay or lesbian, no matter how well they perform their job. ENDA & the American Public :  ENDA & the American Public Workplace non-discrimination based on sexual orientation has been widely embraced by the American public. Poll after poll demonstrates that ENDA enjoys the support of over two-thirds of the American public, including a solid majority of Republican voters. ENDA: Talking Points :  ENDA: Talking Points ENDA extends federal employment discrimination protections currently provided based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation. ENDA extends fair employment practices -- not special rights -- to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and heterosexuals. ENDA prohibits public and private employers, employment agencies, and labor unions from using an individual's sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation. ENDA: Talking Points :  ENDA: Talking Points ENDA provides for the same procedures, and similar, but somewhat more limited, remedies as are permitted under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ENDA applies to Congress, with the same procedures as provided by the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, and presidential employees, with the same procedures as provided under the Presidential and Executive Office Accountability Act of 1996. · ENDA does not cover small businesses with fewer than 15 employees. ENDA: Talking Points :  ENDA: Talking Points ENDA does not cover religious organizations, including educational institutions substantially controlled or supported by religious organizations. The bill only covers employees whose duties pertain solely to a religious organization's activities which generate profits deemed taxable by the Internal Revenue Service. ENDA does not apply to the uniformed members of the armed forces and thus does not affect current law on lesbians and gay men in the military. ENDA: Talking Points :  ENDA: Talking Points ENDA does not allow for quotas or preferential treatment based on the sexual orientation of the individual. · ENDA does not allow a "disparate impact" claim such as is available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Therefore, an employer is not required to justify a neutral practice that may have a statistically disparate impact on sexual orientation. ENDA does not allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect statistics on sexual orientation or compel employers to collect such statistics ENDA: Talking Points :  ENDA: Talking Points ENDA does not require an employer to provide benefits for the same-sex partner of an employee. ENDA does not apply retroactively. ENDA: Where you live? :  ENDA: Where you live? Only 11 states and 1 district prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation". They are…  California (1992)Connecticut (1991)Hawaii (1991) Massachusetts (1989)Minnesota (1993)Nevada (1999) New Hampshire (1997)New Jersey (1992)Rhode Island(1995) Vermont (1992)Wisconsin (1982)District of Columbia (1977)In the 39 other states it is still legal for employers to fire or punish employees based on their sexual orientation, despite polls that suggest most Americans believe a qualified and hard working person should not lose their job just because they are gay or lesbian. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workers in the U.S.:  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workers in the U.S. Pride At Work is committed to the principle of equality. We believe that working men and women, regardless of race, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, religion or age should have the opportunity to live and work in an environment free of physical intimidation, prejudice, retaliation, harassment and bias. LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination:  LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination Federal law does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and currently only 14 states and approximately 151 local jurisdictions have enacted laws forbidding it. In the remaining 36 states, it remains legal to fire a worker because of their real or perceived sexual orientation. There are still 46 states in which it is legal to fire someone based on their real or perceived gender identity or expression. The following states have laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (SO), and four states have laws banning gender identity (GI) discrimination.' LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination:  LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination:  LGBT Workers and Workplace Discrimination 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their non­discrimination policies. Included in that list are union-organized workplaces such as American Airlines, General Motors, and the New York Times. Only 39 of the Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and expression." Sample Union Contract Policy Language :  Sample Union Contract Policy Language "The City and the Union agree to not discriminate against any employee and to promote equal employment opportunity for all without regard to political affiliation or opinion, age, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religious creed, marital status, physical disability, mental condition, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, pregnancy-related condition, or any other non-merit factor." WEHOME, AFSCME Local 3339 (West Hollywood, CA) Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" :  Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" Transgender Inclusion Resolution Passed Pride At Work, AFL-CIO Press Release 5/8/2003 Pride At Work has been increasingly involved in advocating for the rights of transgender workers and union members. We see firsthand how often transgender workers face ignorance, harassment, and discrimination on the job and in their communities. Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" :  Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" Paradoxically perhaps, at the same time, many local and state level ordinances have recently been passed to protect the transgender community, New Mexico and Covington, Kentucky were among the latest. We believe the entire LGBT community must be committed to transgender inclusion at all levels. Regarding federal legislation, some civil rights activists still question the timing ("transgender can be added later") or say it’s not necessary ("gender or sexual orientation, real or perceived will be enough"). Based upon our experience and the advice of leading transgender legal experts, we disagree with both of these opinions Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" :  Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" We believe the time for inclusion is NOW. Indeed, we believe that today, when progressive legislation is not likely to pass, is right the right time to do the educational work necessary to build support for transgender inclusion in all civil rights legislation. Therefore, on May 5, 2003 the Executive Committee of Pride At Work passed the following resolution: Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" :  Pride At Work Says "Not Without Our Trans Brothers and Sisters!" Resolution To Support Only Transgender Inclusive Legislation "Pride At Work, AFL-CIO stands firmly for an inclusive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) movement representing the entire LGBT community. For that reason, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO will only endorse legislation that explicitly includes transgender people." Slide75:  For Immediate Release: Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004 HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN ADOPTS POLICY SUPPORTING MODERNIZED WORKPLACE LEGISLATION We are strongest as a community when we are united and that's why we need the strongest and most unifying protections,' said Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign. Slide76:  WASHINGTON —  The Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors today adopted a policy to support a modernized version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The updated language includes gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation to ensure that every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender American is protected from employment discrimination. "Passage of ENDA is a brass ring for our community and we're making it clear that it must have the strongest teeth possible to protect everyone," said Tim Boggs, co-chair of the HRC Board. The Board of Directors voted to adopt the following resolution: "The Human Rights Campaign adopts a policy that we will only support ENDA if it is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression." Slide77:  HRC took this step to ensure that ENDA will provide real protection to incidents of workplace discrimination. Attorneys who specialize in civil rights laws believe that ENDA without gender identity and expression explicitly stated may not adequately address discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans who are often singled out because they're viewed as not conforming to gender norms. "I am very proud that HRC continues to lead on issues of importance to everyone in our community, including on workplace discrimination," said Gwen Baba, co-chair of the HRC Board of Directors. Slide78:  "We are strongest as a community when we are united and that's why we need the strongest and most unifying protections," said Cheryl Jacques, president of HRC. "The staff of the Human Rights Campaign will continue to work tirelessly to enact this comprehensive ENDA." Slide79:  ENDA was introduced in 1994 and barely lost a Senate vote in 1996. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS :  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS For Immediate Release: Friday, June 18, 2004 NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS CREATE FAIR POLICIES FOR TRANSGENDER STAFF ‘This tool will help managers ensure that transgender employees are valued for the job they do, not devalued by discrimination,’ said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS:  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS WASHINGTON — Responding to the need for resources to help employers create fair policies for their transgender staff, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s WorkNet project today released a new guide, Transgender Issues in the Workplace: A Tool for Managers. NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS:  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS “This tool will help managers ensure that transgender employees are valued for the job they do, not devalued by discrimination,” said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. “We hope employers will use this guide to create work environments where all employees are able to devote their skills and energy to the work at hand, rather than worrying about being harassed or fired because of who they are.” NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS :  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS The guide covers basic terminology, how to manage as an employee transitions from one sex to another, and laws and court cases regarding workplace protections based on gender identity. In addition, the guide presents a sound business case for implementing policies aimed at ending discrimination against transgender employees. The 32-page document is based on interviews with 20 representatives of corporations that have implemented policies to address transgender issues in their workplaces, as well as employer and legislative data that HRC WorkNet has collected for years. NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS:  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS Transgender Issues in the Workplace also covers answers to frequently asked questions and contains a directory of publications, consultants and organizations that address transgender issues in the workplace. NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS :  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS “Human resources professionals will welcome the information this new tool provides,” said HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills, who oversees HRC WorkNet. “Employers spend significant amounts of their annual budgets to attract and retain talented people. These programs are important, but sometimes employers overlook the simplest step they can take to enhance their ability to recruit and retain the best employees — that is, ensuring equality in the workplace.” NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS:  NEW HRC GUIDE HELPS EMPLOYERS Transgender Issues in the Workplace: A Tool for Managers may be downloaded from HRC WorkNet. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. Slide89:  AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL

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