Good column out of Largo

Stones Fly in Largo; Society is Thus Saved

St. Petersburg Times
March 1, 2007

Steve Stanton stood in front of the world to announce he would become Susan, and the world replied: You’re fired.

So much for loyalty and ability. After 14 years as Largo’s city manager, Stanton went from trusted chief executive to ex-employee in a week.

Out of the din of the past few days, and the comments from Tuesday night’s meeting of the Largo City Commission, three alleged justifications for firing Stanton emerged:

(1) Being a transsexual is a sin.

(2) Being a transsexual is disgusting to society.

(3) Being a transsexual is too disruptive for a city manager in a leadership position.

As for the first claim, “sinner” had better not be a disqualification for employment, or else we are all in trouble.

I want to see these headlines:

City fires confessed coveter

False-witness bearer canned

Official fails to honor Sabbath, is removed

Well, why not? After all, those sins rank right up there in the Judeo-Christian top ten, along with idolatry, adultery and the rest. Heck, “transsexual” isn’t even listed in the original instruction manual.

But those are sins that even people sitting in church pews commit. Better to focus on somebody else.

Phooey. Let’s reject the idea that “sin” gets you fired, even if one preacher in the crowd Tuesday night confidently declared that Jesus himself would have been leading the charge for Stanton’s job.

Next comes the “too disgusting” part, which is an evolving standard. Other people at times in America also have been considered too disgusting by the majority to be allowed among decent people:

Divorced women.

Unwed mothers.

People in wheelchairs or with other physical differences.

Ethnic minorities.

Gays and lesbians.

Whoops, that one’s still partly in effect. (I wonder, though, if Stanton had announced “merely” that he was gay, if he would have been fired quite as quickly.)

This brings us to the “too disruptive” claim, and yet even here we ought to be careful. We also have used “too disruptive” to justify racial segregation, educational and professional barriers against women and lots of other ills.

The test of “disruptive” ought to be whether someone’s status actively interferes with his or her job, period – not whether somebody else finds it distasteful to work with a divorcee, a Protestant or a left-hander.

So if Stanton stayed, but proved himself unreliable, unstable, unable to do his job, then the City Commission would have grounds for removing him. As it was, such actual track record was not needed: One commissioner “sensed” Tuesday night that Stanton had lost his ability.

It is a tough line of work, being a city manager, and make no mistake – the City Commission did not need any grounds at all to fire him.

City managers are hired guns who serve at the pleasure of their bosses. In his time in charge, Stanton fired plenty of people himself. As somebody said in a movie once, it’s just business.

Still, I keep picturing him making that announcement, a mixture of dread and hope in his face. Dread won, as it turned out. Society is thus protected. How righteous we all are.

© 2007 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg Times


8 Responses to Good column out of Largo

  1. Sirena says:

    “Lord, save us from your followers!” Good column. Thanks for bringing it up, Mara.

  2. Rachel says:

    I echo Sirena’s sentiment – and thanks to Mara and NCTE for sharing this column as well.

  3. Rachel says:

    I also need to mention that in Westminster in California’s Orange County, the school board has refused to enact the state’s trans-inclusive antidiscrimination law, citing the Christian beliefs of three of the board members.They would rather pay the fines than comply, the last time I heard.

  4. Confused says:

    I’d like to encourage everyone to visit and to get involved in helping Steve Stanton win this fight against the Largo, Florida, leaders. Thanks!

  5. Confused the Muse says:

    I’d like to encourage everyone to visit and to get involved in helping Steve Stanton win this fight against the Largo, Florida, leaders. Thanks!

  6. jeri hughes says:

    The article Ms. Keisling posted is a rare exception to an old rule. News about transsexual individuals isn’t really new at all. “Florida City Manager Planning Sex Change Loses Job “ is one headline being displayed in newspapers throughout the nation. When the word “transgender” is entered into a “Google” news search, an excess of twenty internet pages display headlines concerning this very same incident. It would appear that discrimination against transsexuals is big news.The word “transsexual” in a similar “Google” search brings up a different topic. The news of the day concerns a transsexual woman in Milwaukee who was allowed to marry another woman. Although this marriage might first appear to be a victory for love and human rights or even same-sex marriage, the victory was bitter sweet. The marriage was not approved because two people who were in love wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. It was approved because the Court would not recognize that the transsexual woman was a woman at all. The Court’s decision relied on the fact that one of the brides was still legally considered a man. That same woman would have been denied a legal marriage to an adult male.The murder of transsexual women also appears to make popular copy for newspaper headlines. Had the victims been genetic females, the incidents might very well have gone unnoticed. Again, this news coverage for transgender or transsexual victims is bitter sweet. Although the crimes against these victims might receive public scrutiny, a successful conviction rate of their murderers remains below the national average. In the majority of the States in which these crimes are committed, hate crimes against transgendered individuals do not even exist. The transgendered would appear to be “expendable” people. These women and men just don’t really matter.How ex-city manager Stanton supports her family is not important. Love between two people is not important. Justice is not important. What apparently is important is good copy and selling newspapers. Transsexuals and transgendered people make good copy because they are different from the mainstream. They possess that element of the “freak” that Mike Savage so ineloquently described. Anyone can point their finger and make hateful comments. They can be called sinners and psychopaths and perverts. The publications that print these articles will not stand up for the transgendered as human beings. They are, after all, different. The articles concerning these subjects came to no meaningful conclusion. There was no mention of the injustice done to Stanton. There was no mention of how people in love are routinely denied the right to be joined in matrimony. There was no demand for reform in the laws concerning hate crimes or same-sex marriage. The news consisted solely of information concerning transgendered individuals who were discriminated against, who were ignored, or who were murdered. Sadly enough, these are very common events. They aren’t news, but they do make interesting copy, and copy is what sells newspapers. Why should news organizations voice an opinion for the principles of humanity and justice? That doesn’t sell, and it might isolate potential advertisers. Humanity and justice will just have to wait until there is no one left to speak. Jeri HughesMarch 24, 2007

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mara, Hi from Nantucket, remember Fantasia Fair 2005 we had lunch together. I need to talk to you about some local matters. Please contact me at Thank You Very Much, Valerie

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s hard to imagine what ‘local matters’ you’d have to raise with anyone, Valerie. Selling your story here will go about as well as your attempts with IFGE and all the other places you’ve shopped your malicious gossip. You have zero credibility in this community.

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