When a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person supports his, her, or hir own oppression — his, her, or hir own community’s opression — that to me is just a bit sad and depressing. But, there is the libertarian argument rejects the idea that it’s a function of government to involve itself in policing discrimination (emphasis added):
[I]t’s wrong to discriminate against an employee just because he (or she) is gay, but it isn’t the government’s business to prevent business owners from doing wrong.
B. Daniel Blatt, at GayPatriot, wrote a piece entitled Would ENDA lead to forced “outing”? In the piece, he argues that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) isn’t necessary, and may resort in employers outing their gay and lesbian employees in the workplace.
Should [ENDA] pass, how would a liberal Administration enforce it, would the Holder Justice Department bring “disparate impact” lawsuits against corporations that don’t have the proper amount of homosexuals in their workforce. Would a lower percentage of gay people in the workforce (than in the surrounding jurisdiction) be evidence of discrimination as some liberals believe a lower proportion of minorities (than in the population at large) is prima facie evidence of discrimination? (See e.g., Sonia Sotomayor and the Ricci decision).
And how would an employer determine how many gays are in his employ (and a judge in his jurisdiction)? Would people be required to identify their sexuality when they take a job?
He indirectly suggests the tool for this would be “outing.” He cites how the HRC’s new Corporate Equality Index (CEI) report, entitled State of the Workplace, indicates that the number of corporations providing benefits for “gay and lesbian employees” is increasing without government mandating antidiscrimination through federal law.
Let me just point out that Mr. Blatt left out that the HRC CEI report also covers bisexual and trans employees; the HRC CEI report, as well as and ENDA, are written to recognize that employment nondiscrimination isn’t only about gay and lesbian employees.
Obviously, Mr. Blatt is not really experiencing discrimination himself, he seems more invested in a libertarian ideology than the people who experience discrimination. So, we have a significant difference of perspective on the function of government: I strongly believe preventing employment discrimination is a function of government.
So let’s focus just on the “transgender portion” of the legislation question that is addressed with the use of the phrase gender identity.
• Double the rate of unemployment: Survey respondents experience unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.
• Near universal harassment on the job: Ninety-seven percent (97%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job.
• Significant losses of jobs and careers: Forty-seven percent (47%) had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion.
• High rates of poverty: Fifteen percent (15%) of transgender people in our sample lived on $10,000 per year or less-double the rate of the general population.
[More data on trans employment below the fold.]National Transgender Discrimination Survey continued:
Unemployment and Loss of Jobs
• Transgender people are unemployed at alarming rates. Overall 13% of respondents were unemployed, nearly double the national average at the time of the survey. This is even more acute for respondents who are Black (26%), Latino (18%) and Multiracial (17%).
• Forty-seven percent (47%) of survey respondents experienced an adverse job action because they are transgender–they did not get a job, were denied a promotion or were fired — that directly impacted their employment status. A staggering number of the people surveyed, 26%, lost their jobs due to their gender identity/expression. Particularly hard hit were those who were Black (32%) or Multiracial (37%).
And the Transgender Law Center’s State Of Transgender California (March 2009) indicated about trans people in California:
Seventy percent of the transgender community reports some form of workplace harassment or
discrimination directly related to their gender identity.
• 27% experienced verbal harassment
• 22% experienced unfair scrutiny and/or discipline
• 22% were harassed by coworkers
• 17% were harassed by supervisors
• 15% experienced sexual harassment
• 11% were denied access to restrooms that matched their gender identity
• 9% had their access to customers or clients restricted or eliminated
Despite widespread employment discrimination, only 15% of those who reported some form of discrimination or harassment filed a complaint. Of those who did not file any complaint, 44% did not think they could get the assistance they needed or prove their case. Thirty percent did not know if transgender people have any legal protections against discrimination. Of those who did not file a complaint, 27% did not know how or where to file a complaint and 26% were afraid to lose their job. Thirteen percent of those persons were afraid to come out in order to file a complaint.
Job Loss and Career Changes
Almost half of all respondents report experiencing some loss of employment either as a direct or possible result of their gender identity. Thirty percent of respondents reported that they have been unemployed as a direct result of being transgender or gender non-conforming. Fourteen percent report that they were fired because of their gender identity. Another 13% were denied a promotion, 12% were laid off, and 10% were reorganized out of a job due to their gender identity.
People who have lost a job due to their gender identity are more likely to have a lower income. For example, with even one incidence of losing a job due to gender identity, 34% of respondents make less than $10,000 per year. This is twice the rate of those persons who have not lost a job due to their gender identity.
And, this is just the transgender data. There have been recent studies on LGBT employment of late that look better than the data cited in this piece. However, it’s not about which subcommunity of the LGBT community is experiencing the most employment discrimination — the point is to use tools to end as much of it is as possible. ENDA is such a tool.
Mr. Blatt’s ends with this as his “solution” to employment discrimination:
…the solution is simple: freedom. Eliminate laws which discriminate against gay people and don’t enact new ones in order to achieve “full equality” (whatever that is).
My solution is different: Pass ENDA. Provide more civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Use government as a tool to effect social change; use law to create “liberty and justice for all.”
To quote Cesar Chavez:
“Society is made up of groups, and as long as the smaller groups do not have the same rights and the same protection as others – I don’t care whether you call it capitalism or communism – it is not going to work. Somehow, the guys in power have to be reached by counterpower, or through a change in their hearts and minds, or change will not come.”
In my opinion, we’re back to the opening thought in this piece: When a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person supports his, her, or hir own oppression — his, her, or hir own community’s opression — that to me is just a bit sad and depressing. Mr. Blatt’s commentary at GayPatriot is sad and depressing to me — he puts ideology over people suffering from discrimination.
Understanding one belogs to a community of individuals working as a group can effect change for a broad range of LGBT community members possible; thinking only as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individual means you might do well, but not your peer community members. And then, civil rights becomes just about *you*, or those who are not much out of your circle of *you*.