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Gender Conversion Bias
In 2006, we wrote about Diane (formerly "David") Schroer, a former US Army Special Forces officer and international terrorism expert whose job offer was revoked by the Library of Congress after Schroer revealed that "he" was changing "his" gender presentation from male to female (see Transitioning to a New Job).

According to Charlotte Preece, a staff member of the Library of Congress, Schroer looked like "a man dressed in women's clothing." Plus, Preece was concerned about Schroer's trustworthiness since Schroer hadn't been "up front" about her transition from the beginning of the hiring process. Preece found Schroer's decision to be a woman incomprehensible.

"Does seem a bit of a disconnect," admitted Schroer in a 2005 television interview.

In 2006, the Library of Congress tried to get Schroer's case dismissed because "transsexuals" are not covered by Title VII. Although the Court agreed that transsexual bias isn't covered by federal law, the Court nonetheless ruled Schroer could win if she could show the Library rejected her "because of sex."

Recently, the Court ruled that she did. "Schroer was discriminated against because of sex in violation of Title VII," the Court declared.

"The evidence establishes that the Library was enthusiastic about hiring David Schroer — until she disclosed her transsexuality," the Court observed. "The Library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally, and physically, a woman named Diane. This was discrimination because of sex."

"Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only 'converts.' That would be a clear case of discrimination because of religion," the Court explained.

"In refusing to hire Diane Schroer because her appearance and background did not comport with the decisionmaker's sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer's decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination," the Court concluded.

"It is tremendously gratifying to have your faith in this country, and what is fundamentally right and fair, be reaffirmed," Schroer told reporters. "I very much hope that this ruling will help to eliminate the all-too-pervasive discrimination against sexually nonconforming people in all areas." [Schroer v. Billington (DC DC 2008) no. 05-1090]

For information on this topic tailored to your company profile, request Memos:
5560 Sex Discrimination: Overview
5810 Appearance Discrimination
5345 Discriminatory Dress Codes

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