WASHINGTON — Last night, the city commissioners of Largo, Fla., moved to fire long-time City Manager Steve Stanton because he disclosed that he would begin the process of transitioning from male to female. The commissioners voted 5 to 2 to end Stanton’s career. The mayor of Largo and one other commissioner voted in dissent.
The move by the city commissioners is in direct violation of the city government’s own internal non-discrimination policy. In 2003, the town of Largo, Fla., adopted a policy that explicitly prohibits discrimination in public employment on the basis of gender identity and expression. To view the minutes of the meeting adopting the new policy and to read the language of the policy, please visit: www.largo.com/Commission_agendas/commission_packets/oct_14_2003/managers_report.html
“What happened last night in the town of Largo, Florida, is nothing more than a shameful display of ignorance and bias,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “In direct violation of their own city policy, a successful employee of 14 years was moved to be terminated for no other reason than that he chose to live his life being the person he is. For their dissenting votes, Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioner Rodney Woods will be remembered as being on the right side of history, and we thank them for their courage.”
“This blatant act of discrimination does nothing to help the city of Largo attract businesses. It presents an image to the rest of the country that the city is intolerant and bigoted,” said Solmonese.
On Feb. 27, 2007, The St. Petersburg Times wrote in an editorial entitled, “Judge Official on Skills, not Sex,” that Stanton still “possesses the same intelligence and skills that made him a successful city manager. It is on those attributes that he should be judged, not his appearance or his deeply personal struggle.”
In light of the lack of federal protections, many state and local jurisdictions have created laws that prohibit discrimination against transgender workers. Currently eight states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based upon gender identity.
Ninety-two local jurisdictions, from Key West, Fla., to Scranton, Pa., to Tacoma, Wash., also have adopted employment protections for transgender individuals. Among these 92 jurisdictions are some of the largest cities in America, including Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places across the country like Peoria, Ill.; Louisville, Ky.; Ypsilanti, Mich.; and El Paso, Texas. For an up-to-date comprehensive list, please visit: www.hrc.org/workplace/transgender/policies
In addition, numerous corporations have added protections for transgender employees to their non-discrimination policies. In fact, 122 of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted policies that protect their transgender employees — among them American Airlines, Capital One, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, IBM, Microsoft and Xerox. Additionally, Florida based companies including Tech Data Corporation (Clearwater, FL); Ryder Systems Incorporated (Miami, FL); and Walter Industries Incorporated (Tampa, FL) all have non-discrimination policies protecting transgender employees. To see a full list of employers, see the Human Rights Campaign’s website at: www.hrc.org/workplace/transgender/policies
There have been many successful transitions in the workplace that underscore the incorrect assumptions made by the city of Largo. Dr. Margaret Stumpp is Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Management Associates, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial. She oversees $45 billion on behalf of a global base of institutional and retail investment management clients. Maggie changed genders from male to female in early 2002, while simultaneously maintaining her position with Prudential and her visibility within the investment industry. Dr. Stumpp spoke at a national press conference for the Human Rights Campaign in June 2005.
Executives at Prudential embraced the opportunity to be a leader in implementing policies that protect the rights and responsibilities of their transgender employees. The company developed procedures for managers to help guide them through an employee’s transitioning process; incorporation of education about transgender issues in the workplace in diversity training programs; and, modified health insurance policies to provide wellness benefits that include coverage for an employee’s medical costs for transitioning.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Project provides a wealth of informative materials about policies, protections, guidelines and personal accounts of employees who have gone through transitioning in the workplace. This information can be obtained by visiting both: www.hrc.org/workplace/transgender and www.hrc.org/transgender
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.