Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why is it still considered ok to discriminate against trans people?

I posted a link of facebook that is worthy of a blog post in and of itself, and got a lot of comments on the link that I wanted to discuss here. First, the link is found here.

In London, Ontario, an employee at the downtown farmer's market were fired because she is trans. According to the story, "Market officials were concerned transgendered individuals compromised their family friendly atmosphere." My first thought is that the trans people are not guilty of this, it is the transphobic people making the market a hostile environment that is compromising the "family friendly atmosphere". (BTW, the correct language is trans or transgender, not transgendered- adding -ed implies a verb as opposed to a noun... I am not femaled).

Why is it still ok to discriminate against trans people? If the people running the market tried to fire someone for being female or racialized or gay, there would be public outrage (note, this kind of discrimination does still happen, but no boss would come out and say that they fired that person because they were racialized... it is hidden because it is not considered acceptable).

And yet, facebook comments show me that this type of discrimination is supposed to be ok! Here are a few highlights from my wall...

Well, obviously there were enough complaints to warrant the dismissal...there's discrimination everywhere you go..if you're old they won't hire you, if you don't have the education they won't hire if you are transgendered what do you expect...
"enough complaints to warrant the dismissal." Let's think about that. Let's say that a racialized person gets a job at the market, and a there are complaints from customers saying that they only want to work with white people... would that warrant a dismissal? And the "what do you expect" blames trans people for trying to find work...
Wait... Why can't the employee just wear men's clothing while at work and wear whatever else at home?
ummm... because they aren't men and shouldn't have to dress as though they are?

and my least favorite;
Personally I boycotted Dancing with the Stars this season because of Chaz bono..It used to be a show that both (child) and I would watch, but just b/c they put him on the show and made this whole big controversy out of it....out of all the stars they choose him? He's not even a star..he's only known because of Cher, I don't remember "Chastity" having any talents that would "qualify" you as a star...Anyhow, just my 2 cents.

Not everyone was insulting or rude... there were a few positive comments, including this one from my brother (who has been mentioned many times on this blog)
Ontario Human Rights Code. Section 1. transgender fits in to sex, as it is sex identification. lots of rulings on this already. though, not sure where education or social assistance status would fit in (but if it doesn't, I agree it should be in).
"Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability."
and this one from Mr. Awesome (responding to a commenter, who was discriminated against by a housing co-op for being on social assistance).
Being discriminated against happens naturally, but it's also wrong. You deserve a better chance at getting a job if you're on assistance, yet employers usually discriminate against poor individuals. If anything, it means we need to make resources more accessible for everyone.

The same logic applies to transgender folks. Nothing about them makes them less productive than a non-trans gender person. To discriminate against them is wrong, just as it's wrong to discriminate against the poor.

Anyway, I have a few points to make, and then I would like to open this up to ask readers for advice on how to respond to these comments.

I have been going back and forth in my mind about whether to delete all of the negative comments. I have trans friends who will likely read these posts on my facebook wall, and I feel as though they get so much hatred from the outside world that I would like my wall to be a safe space. Still, I would like to be able to respond to some of this and hopefully change a few peoples' minds about what it means to be trans (not that I am remotely qualified to do this...)

I really cannot understand the thought process of people who agree that it is ok to have fired the woman mentioned above. All I can think of is that she did not do anything wrong... she merely showed up to work in clothing that I could have worn without any incident, and was (is still being) discriminated against. This all makes me so sad and upset that I just want to go hide in my room without the internet and not come out until transphobia disappears, which is clearly the most logical and useful response...


  1. mr.Awesome Says:

    Would the owners of the London Farmer's Market like to explain to the rest of us what exactly constitutes a 'Family'?

  2. Why, a family is a man and a woman who are part of a heterosexual monogamous marriage that has been formally acknowledged by the church and state and any offspring that they might produce, of course!

  3. The "family friendly" thing is especially annoying. My mere presence suddenly suddenly ups the rating of any event up to Adults Only, which is somewhat hilarious because in my experience its children who have the easiest time accepting transpeople. It isn't until they've had their compassion and humanity stamped out and replaced with rigid concepts of essentialist gender roles that they begin to react negatively; most young kids typically react with either disinterested acceptance or well-meaning curiosity. I wish I could say the same for more adults. Not to mention that the people I consider my family seem to accept my presence just fine.

  4. Your brother's mention of the Ontario Human Rights Code interests me...because although there's judicial precendent that trans status should fall under sex as something on the basis of which employers can't discriminate, before the last election the House passed a bill that would have explicitly added gender expression/identity (federally, not provincially). Several Conservative MPs opposed it on the grounds that judicial precedent already had this covered. But clearly, that's not the case. (Parliament was dissolved before the Senate could pass the bill, so it's back to square one.)

  5. Personally, when responding to various -ist and -phobic comments on my Facebook, I adopt the following strategy:

    1. Respond one time to let folks know that X remarks are not okay in this space.

    2. If said remarks persist, delete them (and consider defriending the person).

    It doesn't really get at the education issue, but as far as I'm concerned -- My purpose for my FB is to keep in contact with my friends. If someone is going to keep voicing transphobic/racist/classist/etc. sentiments -- especially counter to my expressed wishes on my status updates -- they are not my friends.