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?