Yesterday, our friend Kylar Broadus became the first openly transgender person to testify in front of the U.S. Senate. Broadus is the founding Executive Director of the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) and is a professor at Lincoln University and a practicing attorney. He spoke about the struggle of not being able to transition due to unwelcoming workplace environments, and the aftermath of the discrimination he faced, which included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Broadus also noted the economic challenges that grew out of unemployment: his own student loan debt quadrupled due to a lack of work.
Watch Kylar Broadus’ testimony in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee here:
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “To watch the first openly trans person testify about a bill we desperately need is amazing. And to have somebody who’s a real hero of mine be the first one to testify to the senate is remarkable. That it was a trans man is remarkable. That it’s a trans man of color is remarkable.”
Other witnesses testifying in favor of ENDA hearing included Dr. M.V. Lee Badgett, Research Director of the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Samuel Bagenstos, Law Professor at the University of Michigan.
Mr. Charles spoke about the “simple business sense” of employment protections for recruiting and retaining the most talented workers and cited the 97% internal rating for creating a safe workplace for all employees. General Mills, a Fortune 500 company, is a leader in the private sector for establishing sexual orientation and gender identity protections and covering transition-related care in its health insurance program.
Senators Harkin (D-IA), Merkley (D-OR), Franken (D-MN), Casey (D-PA), Murray (D-WA), and Benett (D-CO) showed their support, speaking strongly about the need for ENDA. Senator Jeff Merkley, the main sponsor of the bill said, “It is time to extend fundamental fairness to all Americans” and added, “This discrimination is absolutely wrong, it is morally wrong, and we must end it.”
After over a decade of slow Congressional movement, NCTE remains optimistic that a more friendly Congress will quickly take up ENDA and pass it. Keisling said, “this hearing is part of the process to get it done. It moves the ball down the field and next time there’s a reasonable majority in charge of both chambers of Congress, ENDA is going to pass.”
Even without the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, recent court rulings and some local and state laws still provide protections for transgender and gender nonconforming employees.
Download NCTE’s employment “know your rights” guide for federal workers here.
Download NCTE’s general employment “know your rights” guide here .