Imagine if your employer wanted to pay you your regular salary, benefits and all, just to stay home and not go to work.
The lawyer for Vandy Beth Glenn thinks so too. Vandy is a legislative editor in Atlanta, Georgia, who was fired by the Georgia General Assembly when she came out about being trans and wished to discuss how her transition would transpire in the workplace. Judge Richard Story ordered her employer to rehire her, ruling that the firing constituted sexual discrimination. Boss Sewell Brumby decided he’d rather pay her to stay at home than to have someone trans in the workplace. This will be the case until an appeal can be heard.
“There are a lot of factors going on,” said Glenn’s attorney, Greg Nevins. “At the end of the day, it was an offer worth taking.”
And why not? She’s been fighting this battle for almost three years. No one can blame her.
Well, almost no one. To the far right social conservative who likes to find fault with anyone trans and bemoan that giving us rights will infringe on their right to discriminate, this scenario is ripe for the picking. I can see the clarion call right now (with apologies to those who will be triggered by it):
“Gender confused man paid to stay at home after discrimination ruling.” This headline doesn’t exist yet, but is well within the typical phrasing of the TVC or FRC.
Except that the judge didn’t order that. This was an elective offer on the part of the employer. When the echo chamber goes into full swing, that point has to be loud and clear.
Why would an employer make such an offer? In order for a judge to come to this conclusion, he’d have to be satisfied that Vandy’s job performance was demonstrated to not be the issue. Brumby repeatedly contended that the presence of anyone trans in that workplace would make people uncomfortable. Such as, well, Sewell Brumby:
“It makes me think about things I don’t like to think about, particularly at work … I think it’s unsettling to think of someone dressed in women’s clothing with male sexual organs inside that clothing,” Brumby said in a deposition taken last year.
And if job performance is not the issue and someone’s prejudices about trans people are — prejudices that would drive someone to voluntarily make an offer like this so that they wouldn’t have to… well, confront their own prejudices — then you can’t contort this story into a fictional scenario where someone who just wanted to make a living “bullied herself into getting a free ride.” You just can’t.
And frankly, any boss who spends his time dwelling on thinking about what genitalia their employees has rather than directing a team to do their jobs is a boss with a problem. Transsexuals have transitioned amicably in workplaces for decades — nobody sees their genitals, nobody gets stalked in washrooms, none of the horror stories have basis in fact — or at least not on the basis of someone being trans alone. Get over it.
That said, does assuring rights for trans people infringe upon the rights of other groups of people? Sure it does: inasmuch as denying someone a job because they’re black infringes on racists, giving women a say in the electoral process infringes on the political power of men, protecting lives infringes upon people whose beliefs tell them they should be able to kill according to their values and protecting the speech and property of a religion infringes upon faiths who believe that only one faith should be exclusively sanctioned by state. Rights remind us that we need to treat people like people and that opportunity needs to be available to all. Social conservatives need to stop acting like reasonable limits to their rights does not equate to not having them at all. They also have to acknowledge that rights are a necessary “evil” when there remain those in their ranks who aren’t just interested in firing LGBT people:
While [American Vision founder and Coral Ridge Ministries associate Gary] DeMar insists that homosexuals wouldn’t be rounded up and systematically executed under a “reconstructed” government, he does believe that the occasional execution of “sodomites” would serve society well, because “the law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectively drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back into the closet.”
In the meantime, Vandy Beth Glenn has a sweet deal. But like any sweet deal, it can have its negative consequences. How this affects her work history and any subsequent employment she may wish to seek in the future remains to be seen. She would be best to go over the letter of the agreement carefully, and determine what allowance she has to do volunteer work or otherwise keep busy, active and accrue references that will (easily) be more positive than that of her current employer.