Kylar Broadus: First transgender person to testify before the Senate

Today, Kylar Broadus made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate. Broadus was speaking on behalf of  Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

So, who is Kylar Broadus and why is he a proponent of ENDA? He’s the founder of Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) and a practicing attorney and professor of law Lincoln University of Missouri, which are just two of his many accomplishments. But despite his impressive resume, he’s faced discrimination too. As he testified today in front of The Senate:

Prior to my physical transition, I began working at a major financial institution…. After I announced my gender transition, it only took six months before I was “constructively discharged” from my employer. While my supervisors could tolerate a somewhat masculine-appearing black woman, they were not prepared to deal with my transition to being a black man. With growing despair, I watched my professional connections, support, and goodwill evaporate, along with my prospects of remaining employed. I was harassed until I was forced to leave. I received harassing telephone calls hourly from my supervisor some days. I received assignments after hours that were due by 9 a.m. the next morning. The stress was overwhelming. I ended up taking a stress leave for several weeks. I thought upon my return perhaps things would settle down. I was back less than a week from stress leave and knew that it wasn’t going to settle down. I was forbidden from talking to certain people and my activities were heavily monitored.  I was forced out and unemployed for about a year before finally obtaining full-time employment.

Before fully accepting that new reality, however, I tried everything possible to save the career I had worked so many years to build. Once I lost my job, I thought that there MUST be laws that protect individuals when they are discriminated against. After filing a lawsuit in federal court, though, I learned quickly that transgender people weren’t covered under any discrimination laws. Like the vast majority of plaintiffs during my era, I lost. My lawsuit was summarily dismissed.

Transgriot has the entire testimony here and it’s definitely worth reading. Broadus is a perfect example of how workplace discrimination based on gender identity is not only unjust, but senseless and shortsighted. In short, today was a big effing deal. Feministing Five interview, anyone?

nyc

Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

Read more about Katie

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/sinistraljade/ Jade

    Very proud to know Kylar for many years and to hear him speak on behalf of trans people who experience so much discrimination in the workplace. A couple years ago, Kylar tried to charge a friend of mine, who was living on very limited income, $800-$1,200 for a legal name and gender change. Kylar lost my respect at that time… it is my belief that members of marginalized communities should not bankrupt each other just to make riches for themselves….but it is good to see him making national news for our cause.