Transgender Victory in Job Bias Case

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Washington—A former Army Special Forces commander who underwent gender reassignment surgery – and was denied a Library of Congress job because of it – has won a federal lawsuit.

Diane Schroer was a former U.S. Army colonel who specialized in tracking and targeting terrorists. In 2004, Schroer worked in the private sector for a short time before applying for a job at the Library of Congress.

Schroer, who had been biological male named David, was initially offered the Congressional Research Service job. After having lunch with a Library of Congress official, during which she explained that she would be having surgery to change her gender, the job offer was rescinded.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge James Robinson ruled that she was entitled to almost $500,000 in back pay and damages as a result of the discrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case, called it significant. Since a federal judge ruled in favor of a transgendered person, the implication is that changing genders can be classified as discrimination under federal law.

Schroer was pleased not only with the damages won but also with the message that the case sent. Many transgendered people face similar discrimination in the workplace or when searching for a job.

“They are hugely underemployed, at best,” she said. “If they are fortunate enough to get something, it’s well below their capabilities. It’s not just about money, it’s about knowing you are a valuable person.”

The Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Justice Department, who were defendants in the case, argued that discrimination because of “transsexuality” or gender dysphoria was not sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, and therefore not illegal.

The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to appeal the case.

 

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