Trans woman sues after former employer requests picture of her genitals

Via and Philadelphia Gay News comes some really disgusting employment discrimination news. Kate Lynn Blatt, a trans woman, was let go from her temp position at Sapa Industrial Extrusions under dubious circumstances: allegedly because she was not healthy enough to complete the job, but it sounds like the real reason was her use of the womens locker room. Manpower Inc., the staffing services agency that placed her at Sapa, told Blatt she would have to supply a picture of her genitalia as a condition of continued employment.

Irene Kudziela, branch manager of Manpower’s Pottsville office, allegedly told Blatt that a letter from her surgeon documenting her gender-reassignment surgery — along with a photograph of her genital area — would be necessary before she could return to Sapa. …
Blatt filed bias complaints against Sapa and Manpower with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, alleging wrongful discharge based on sex and disability. She said her disability is gender dysphoria.

There is so much wrong with this situation. It speaks to the intense dehumanization of trans folks that Manpower did not recognize how absurd and awful it was to request a picture of Blatt’s genitalia. I am especially struck by the notion that seeing someone’s crotch is how we determine their gender. The most sexually active person, hell even an OB/GYN, sees the genitalia of only a tiny fraction of the people they interact with. Yet we go around gendering other people all the time. There are many places gender happens – how we dress, vocal inflection, clothing, makeup, posture, the list goes on – and none of them are essential or superior to other markers. What is most important is how someone self identifies, not what’s between their legs.
Blatt deserves mad props for filing suit. It’s exhausting work having to defend your very humanity and right to basic dignity. Yet more evidence that we need to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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