The day I got my driver's license with the gender marked "F" and my new legal name was one of the best days of my life. I was assigned male at birth, and my parents named me Steven. But I'd known for many years that I am a woman, and now I had the identification to prove it.

That year also included many of the hardest days. My parents, who belong to a conservative church, disowned me. My next-door neighbor hosed me in the face with a chemical poison. And I was fired from the job that I loved – all because I am transgender.

I'm an electrician, and I was working at H & H Electric, a contractor in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The day after I got my new driver's license, I told my boss that I am a transgender woman. He looked shocked. He told me that I was one of his best people and that he would hate to lose me. I was stunned that his first reaction was that he might have to fire me.

He didn't fire me right away, but he didn't let me come to work as a woman, either. He told me I couldn't discuss my transition with anyone at work or use my legal name, Patricia.

Even though I didn't say anything, people at work noticed that I was transitioning. My hair was growing out, and I'd started hormone therapy. Some of my co-workers were kind to me, but others were cruel. Twice, co-workers tried to sabotage my work. One of those instances could have caused an explosion that could hurt or even kill someone. Fortunately, I discovered it in time, and no one was hurt.

The more time passed, the more it became obvious that I am a woman. Eventually I felt brave enough to wear makeup and a blouse to work. I was on top of the world. I had a great job, and I was finally being myself. That week, my boss pulled me aside and said, "I'm sorry, Steve, you do great work, but you are too much of a distraction and I am going to have to let you go."

I am not a distraction. I am a woman, and I shouldn't be fired for being who I am. That's why the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on my behalf arguing that firing me because I am transgender is illegal sex discrimination.

Even though federal law prohibits employers from hiring or firing people because of their gender, here in Arkansas and in 31 other states, there are no laws that explicitly tell employers that discrimination against transgender people is illegal. I'm here to make sure that transgender workers are judged on their job performance, not who they are.

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Anonymous

I live in HS and I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I hope this isn't one of those moments that haunts you forever, as those seem to bring us down more and more with each passing year. Forgive, but don't forget, and continue to be the best you can be, because gender is just a small part of who we are.

Anonymous

Employers can require dress codes that are gender specific. They have a right to run their business by allowing them to present their company to the public in a certain way. As long as they don't put an undue burden on males or females they can enforce the dress code and it does not fall under Title VII discrimination. I do agree that all people should be respected and treated fairly but I do see the need for an employer to require a dress code at times.

Valerie Keefe

Clearly this is an undue burden on an incredibly well-qualified mechanic (and her gender is female, because we're a sapient species with sexually dimorphic neurology, or are you just a sapient set of genitalia walking around?) But then, you already knew that you nameless, gutless, soulless, fraction of a human-being.

Anonymous

so hope with all my heart that she is victorious!!!

Anonymous

Get it girl!

amy iz awesome

Is it OK to say that I admire the bravery of Transgender people? I'm a hetero female born and I'm brave to a degree, on every one else's behalf. I hold true to my convictions politically but, idk. You go girl. Get it. Get all over it. Be that woman that we learn about one day in political science that won the supreme court case which set a precedent for modern day Transgender ed people. I'm so proud of you. Xx

CHELL

You said it perfectly..

Anonymous

I got fired back in 1982 for the same reason. They gave me the old "Things are slow" routine. And back then you didn't have a leg to stand on either. Of course they were one of those companies that prides themselves on being so professional, yet they acted like a bunch of amateurs, and treated me like I had the plague. Things have improved?

Meredy

I am sorry you've been treated so awfully, and I will be cheering for you from WI, where my boss also has an issue with my recent name change, but is too intimidated by HR to be anything but polite to me. Please accept my thanks for pursuing legal action, and I hope you remain safe and healthy!

Anonymous

As the more we change the more the others stay the same. Here's a run down of the last 100 years chinks dig tunnels for trains, drunken patty micks dig ditches , Jews in the oven, niggers in the field. Fags in a dress you see it makes no difference thing like this will continue because of the way churches tell people that even being a friend to a gay or trans is the fast land to hell. As soon as you stop the churches hate message things will change

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