It wasn’t until the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that the Title VII prohibitions against sexual discrimination apply to transgender employees that trans people gained any measure of security in their workplace.
That doesn’t always help trans workers get past the front door, however.
One of the first obstacles trans employees face is on the job application
Many transgender people would prefer not to reveal their status to prospective employers until they’ve gone through the hiring process. That’s the best way to avoid losing a job opportunity simply because the person making the hiring decision is prejudiced.
Unfortunately, trying to hide your status during your job application process can put you between a rock and a hard place. If the job application asks about previous names, you’re stuck with two equally unpleasant choices:
- Do you reveal your “dead” (birth) name, knowing that it will automatically create questions about your visible gender identity?
- Do you lie on your application and pretend that your current name has always been your name, knowing that you might be found out later?
The first option means that you’re automatically “outing” yourself to your prospective employer. If they’re transphobic, you may lose the job opportunity right there — without ever having a chance to prove yourself.
The second option isn’t really much of an option at all. If your potential employer runs a background check, that could automatically disqualify you from the job for lying on your application. (In fact, even if your previous name is discovered well after you are officially hired, you could lose your job for the same reason.)
Combating transphobia and discrimination isn’t easy
Researchers say that one out of every six trans people has lost a job because of transphobia. Even more report being harassed, denied promotions and attacked because of their gender identity or expression.
If you believe that you were discriminated against by an employer or a potential employer because you are trans, it may be time to further explore your legal options.