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Federal appeals court rules in favor of transgender employee

A recent federal appeals court ruling that was in favor of a transgender government employee may pave the way for other transgender employees in San Diego, and throughout the entire nation, to be treated more fairly in the workplace.

After upholding a lower court decision in the discrimination case, the three-judge panel with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that transgender employees cannot be discriminated against simply because they choose not to conform to gender stereotypes.

Although the ruling was certainly a victory for the woman and those fighting for employee rights, one attorney stated that this case is another example of the need for a federal law to prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBT employees. "Congress must pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA)," the attorney argued.

The woman's lawsuit was filed in July 2008. She had worked as an editor for two years in the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Counsel in Georgia. When the employee was first hired, she was living as a man. The employee had identified as a female for a long time prior to her employment, but continued to live as a man. After struggling with her identity, the employee decided to make the transition from male to female.

In 2007, the employee told her supervisor about her plans to transition, and her supervisor consulted her boss. But after confirming that the employee was going to transition from male to female, the employee was terminated. According to court papers, the woman's employer admitted that the decision to terminate her was because of the employee's "intended female appearance."

After reviewing the case earlier this month, the federal appeals court ruled that the employee was wrongfully terminated from her position as a result of discrimination.

Source: San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, "Video: Eleventh Circuit Court upholds victory for transgender employee fired by Georgia Legislature," Dec. 6, 2011