One of the more interesting things I learned while conducting interviews for our sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation training was the difficulty transgendered people have in staying employed once they transition. It would seem to be common sense that if someone is a great accountant as a man and makes the transition to a woman, they would still be a great accountant. Right? Seems simple. However, I heard story after story of transgendered people losing their jobs, being passed over and not being able to find work. The emotional and physical toll of transitioning is often compounded by financial ruin.
Thats why the story of Scottie Madden caught my eye. The transgender woman was a successful show runner in Hollywood and has seen her opportunities dry up after transitioning. Hollywood, of all places, would seem to be accepting and Madden told Buzzfeed she initially got a lot of support for her decision, however, when she was healed and back on the job, the trajectory of her career took a sudden and devastating turn.
“When you work for hire, you serve at the mercy of somebody's whim. The phrase you always hear is, ‘It just didn’t work out.’ And that covers all manners of things", Madden told Buzzfeed.
This made me think of the transgender woman we interviewed for our AB1825 sexual harassment training. I've known JoAnna for many years. She was a source I went to for understanding when covering transgender issues in the media, but I had never heard her entire story until I interviewed her for our educational documentary. I've linked to a portion of her interview at the bottom of this blog.
She's a remarkably resilient person who is passionate about education and helping others understand the journey transgender people take. Being transgender means risking family relationships, marriages, friendships and emotional exposure that can leave one feeling alone. Should transgender people also have to pay with their livelihoods, careers and ability to support themselves and their families?
Current law says no but workplace culture can have a big impact on how the law plays out for the transgender population.