Fired for Being Transgender, What ENDA Vote Means To Me

Colonel Diane Schroer

Hearing and reading about the debate over the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate the past couple of days has been a surreal experience.

We've come a long way. It was not even ten years ago that I had a job offer rescinded – a job I was eminently qualified for, I might add – by my prospective employer (the Library of Congress) once they found out that I was in the process of a gender transition. The ACLU represented me in a suit against the Library of Congress for the unfair way in which they treated me.

Several years later in 2008, I testified before Congress in the first-ever congressional hearing on gender identity discrimination in the workplace. It was a unique opportunity for me to tell my personal story of taking steps to transition from male to female shortly after retiring as a colonel after 25 years of distinguished service in the Army, and of being discriminated against by the Library of Congress.

Now, in 2013, here we are: ENDA, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity (like the discrimination I experienced), has passed the Senate with a huge bipartisan margin of 64 to 32. Liberals like Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) joined conservatives like Sen. Toomey (R-Pa.) to pass ENDA. It's truly an astounding achievement.

Diane Schroer

Diane Schroer

And for me, (like too many other LGBT people) it's personal. Sometimes, in the midst of policy debates, we forget that workplace discrimination actually happens to real people. But it's not some mythical thing. I was profoundly affected by the discrimination I experienced. And even though I won my case (thanks, ACLU!) and now have a job that I love, nobody should have to go through what I did simply because of who they are.

So I look forward to seeing ENDA eventually reaching the President's desk, even if it's not this time around (the prospects for passage in the House of Representatives are uncertain).

It will truly be a great day when all Americans have a fair shot at job opportunities and advancement in the workplace regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Anonymous

Glad to see it pass the Senate, but unfortunately there's no way the Republican House will pass it...

Anonymous

As you prohibit people of faith from running their private businesses according to the dictates of their conscience....

Discrimination exists, its just a matter of whether it is a private matter, or legally enforced. This bill simply codifies discrimination against people of religious and moral conviction by disallowing them living out their convictions in a public setting under penalty of law.

A company practicing religiously based ethics may not hire someone with whom they disagree with regard to issues of morality, but they do not keep that individual from obtaining a job elsewhere. In contrast, laws such as this do discriminate and prevent people with moral/religious convictions from exercising their convictions in the public square, running their businesses or organizations in accordance with their convictions, and hinder advancement of religious individuals who voice dissent to such policies/laws.

True liberty is when every man can live according to the dictates of his own conscience so long as it does not ACTIVELY injure others. Liberty in America is gone thanks in large measure to the intellectual dishonesty of the ironically named American Civil Liberties Union.

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