Ashley Yang, a transgender woman, was fired from her job at the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) last year for expressing her female gender identity at work. Management at the TSA location where she worked in California insisted that Ashley, who lives her daily life as a woman, present as male at work. In an exclusive web series In the Life, Ashley says, “I feel female; I don’t think anybody considers me male.” The TSA disagreed and asked her to present as male every day or face termination.
When our friends at the Transgender Law Center heard about Ashley’s termination, they filed a complaint against the TSA. In a financial settlement, the TSA admitted wrongdoing and awarded Ashley with back pay, coverage for pain and suffering, and required the TSA to participate in training on workplace issues and transgender employees.
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Sadly, Yang’s story is not uncommon. In a study released by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 47 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming respondents said they experienced an adverse job outcome such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of who they are. Over a quarter (26 percent) reported losing a job and 50 percent reported being harassed because of their gender identity.
NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling, says, “A lot of us are working with the federal government and the TSA to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.” Discrimination against employees on the basis of gender identity is wrong, and with continued advocacy for federal non-discrimination laws, NCTE hopes that employees like Ashley will be protected in the future.