The Transgender Discrimination that May Not Come Immediately to Mind

From the

The moment of dread for transgender people comes when the question arises on a job application: “Have you ever lived or worked under another name?”

It bears a chilling echo of the witch hunts of the McCarthy era’s anti-communism trials.

“My heart stops when I come to that question,” conceded Drew Cordes, 31, of Albany, whose male-to-female gender reassignment surgery in 2011 in Montreal was profiled in the Times Union.

“It’s time we let everyone know we have civil rights, too. There’s no wrong time to do the right thing,” said Cordes, a writer and editor who is a founder of the Transgender Advocates of the Capital Region.

Paola Gonzalez, 37, of Albany, a transgender female who transitioned in 2008, was not hired during a three-year job search. Each time, the gender question abruptly ended the interview when a manager discovered that Gonzalez was listed as Pedro on legal documents.

“The past haunts me,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was harassed by a tenant in the apartment where she lived and the landlord told Gonzalez to leave. Gonzalez, who has a master’s degree in environmental engineering, was forced to sell engineering books and personal belongings to survive. She would have been homeless if friends did not take her in. Gonzales now works as a cashier at Home Depot.

Cordes has been verbally harassed by young men in Washington Park and knows transgender people who have been beaten up, are chronically unemployed, sporadically homeless and plagued by severe depression.

“We know they’re hearing us in the Capitol and they’re going to keep hearing us until [Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act] GENDA passes,” said Christopher Argyros, 33, of Albany, transgender rights organizer for the Empire State Pride Agenda.

It’s not just when you have a job that you could be fired or getting “evicted” from your home but also getting a job and housing that is difficult. That’s why legislation like GENDA and ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) are important. Transgender persons are just as capable of doing the job of a CEO, plant worker or government service person as everyone else. And they are just as capable of paying rent on time and being good stewards of their property as everyone else. Judge based on what you see on the inside; the things that matter: intelligence, ability to make decisions, people management, time management, etc. All the things that employers would want to know in an interview. I’ve always been asked the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ but never asked the question ‘do you see you self as a woman in 5 years?’ And even if my answer to that latter question was yes, it would still make me no less capable than I am now.

Read the full article.

Contact Congress and tell them to support the passage of ENDA

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