Sexual Harassment, Civil Rights, And ENDA
I’ve been the victim of sexual harassment.
Near the end of my 20-year, U.S. Navy career, a subordinate of mine decided I was gay and didn’t want me in his Navy – he talked to my last four division officers trying to get an investigation into my alleged homosexuality started on me.
My subordinate finally found a sympathetic ear in a new Executive Officer (XO). I got called in front of the XO twice. I’d stayed within the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) rules, but he asked me if I were gay anyway.
I wrote up my subordinate and my XO for male-on-male sexual harassment — they violated the DADT rules in a way that met the Navy’s three criteria for sexual harassment:
1. The attention was unwelcome.
2. The harassment was sexual in nature.
3. The harassment involved the workplace.
Unfortunately for my harassers, for seven years of my military career I’d been a Naval Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment instructor. Both of my harassers were found at the end of investigation to have committed male-on-male sexual harassment. The Navy didn’t take male-on-male sexual harassment seriously, so my subordinate’s punishment was a verbal reprimand, and my XO got a “fiche 5” service record entry.
I knew the rules and criteria for sexual harassment. (One can read more of my DADT story on the SLDN‘s or HRC‘s website.)
Why mention my story of harassment here? Matt Barber of the Concerned Women For America’s Culture And Family Institute recently announced what he believes a sexually harassing, hostile work environment is created when a transwoman uses a female designated bathroom.
This is from the Concerned Women For America’s article entitled ENDA Would Dismantle First Amendment Liberties:
Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America (CWA), warned, “This [Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA)] bill would force Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owners to hire people who openly choose to engage in homosexual or cross-dressing behaviors despite a sincerely held religious belief that those behaviors are dangerous, sinful and not in keeping with basic morality. ENDA would essentially force employers to check their First Amendment protected rights to freedom of religion, speech and association at the workplace door. It’s absurd! For instance, female employees would have to endure both systematic sexual harassment and a hostile work environment by being forced to share bathroom facilities with male employees who get their jollies from wearing a dress, high heels and lipstick. [emphasis added]
“Over the years, the homosexual lobby has done a masterful job of co-opting the language of the genuine civil rights movement in their push for special rights. This bill represents the goose that laid the golden egg for homosexual activist attorneys,” concluded Barber.
Knowing what I know about sexual harassment, this is a twisting of “hostile work environment.” When Matt Barber mentions sexual harassment and hostile work environments, it’s pretty clear he knows just enough about the subjects to get the application wrong, and his sarcastic, demeaning choice of words suggest he doesn’t really care.
Dr. Jillian T. Weiss is an expert consultant on transgender workplace diversity issues. In her blog, she writes about the more intrusive situation of transwomen and transmen in the shower / locker rooms:
As I read it, it exempts shower rooms and dressing rooms without private areas, such as stalls with curtains or doors. In such situations, employers are not subject to liability under ENDA if a transgender employee is excluded therefrom. (The language specifically refers to “this Act,” so there might be potential sources of liability in state law.)
I think most employers with shower or dressing facilities will not fall within this safe harbor because it is common practice today for most shower and dressing rooms to have some stalls for private use, with doors or curtains. If there are such private areas, and being seen fully unclothed is “avoidable,” ENDA would apply to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Two caveats, however: 1) there is no indication of who would or could be required to use such private areas, and 2) two state courts have ruled that the cultural preference for single-sex facilities trumps statutory language prohibiting gender identity discrimination. I’ve previously discussed point two about bathrooms and lockers rooms in detail here. For more discussion of these issues generally, click on the label “Bathrooms. . .”
In other words, if the genitalia can be kept out of sight of others, then it appears ENDA has made provisions for transpeople using the shower and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.
Right after Matt Barber’s statement in the previously mentioned CWA article is a quote from Shari Rendall, CWA’s Director of Legislation and Public Policy. She said of ENDA:
“This bill would unfairly extend special privileges based upon an individual’s changeable sexual behavior, rather than focusing on immutable, non-behavior characteristics such as skin color or gender. Its passage would both overtly discriminate against and muzzle people of faith. Former Secretary of State Collin Powell put it well when he said, ‘Skin color is a benign, non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.’”
I like Colin Powel. However, that doesn’t make him an expert on civil rights issues.
So to put Colin Powell’s quote in perspective, I’ll quote two leaders from the black civil rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin:
The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Gay people must continue this [civil rights] protest. This will not be easy, in part because homosexuality remains an identity that is subject to a “we / they” distinction. People who would not say, “I am like this, but black people are like that,” or “we are like this, but women are like that,” or “we are like this, but Jews are like that,” find it extremely simple to say, “homosexuals are like that, but we are like this.” That’s what makes our struggle the central struggle of our time, the central struggle for democracy and the central struggle for human rights. If gay people do not understand that, they do not understand the opportunity before them, nor do they understand the terrifying burdens they carry on their shoulders.
— Bayard Rustin; From Montgomery To Stonewall (1986)
You know, I’ve shared bathrooms with MTFs in many situations, and also with what I thought were cross-dressing men in clubs and bars. It didn’t hurt or scare me any. They just wanted to do the same stuff I did, from makeup application to the bathroom’s main purpose. No big.
I would be much more scared to have Matt Barber in my office than any trannsexual or cross-dresser in my office bathroom, I’ll tell you that.
Oh, and I’m hoping even more that Terri O’Connell can get back into NASCAR. (She was born J. T. Hayes, and you may have read about her in Newsweek.) Guys like this will FREAK!
I have absolutely no problems with anyone who is a transgender/transsexual; because that has to do with one’s spiritual/psychological gender being different from one’s physiological gender. It is gender identity, not sexual orientation identity.
Cross-dressing or transvestism is not a sexual orientation; it is a sexual fetish which has no connection with sexual orientation. Men and women who dress up in the opposite sex’s clothes because they are professional entertainers as opposite-sex impressionists or opposite-sex illusionists is not the same thing as being a drag queen or a drag king. But, there are some exclusively men who think dressing up in drag is required for one to be gay; IMO, that is living down to a homophobic stereotype.
In regard to Autumn’s being a man and even self-identifying as one, while on active duty in the US Navy, I would say that the DADT rule should not have applied. That (constitutionally) illegal military law had to do with homosexuals not transsexuals, who were not even considered in that ruling.
I would ask Autumn, “While the term “transwoman” applies to you both psychologically and physically, do you self-identify as a woman as far as the general public is concerned?”
When I had my regular 6-month appointment with my primary care physician at Muskogee VA Hospitial’s Tulsa Out Patient Clinic last month there was a MTF transsexual who went to the same Team as I did there. The person did look definitely female; but, her body language was more like that of an inexperienced drag queen who needed lessons on how to sit and walk like a lady. I had to listen to a fellow Vet complain about her while we were in the Red Team waiting area after her nurse took her to the triage room. He griped about her taking hormone shots. I didn’t think of it at the time; but, I should have told him that men who had their prostates removed got hormone shots in VA clinics, too, to keep them manly looking and to help them sexually perform as one.
I told him that unlike the US Military, the VA was not supposed to discriminate against transsexuals nor gay persons because it is illegal to do so. DADT does not apply to the VA and also to its medical facilities.
[…] ——— Crossposted from the Ex-Gay Watch […]
I’ve got no problems with transsexuals either, but I definitely can see the challenges they face gaining acceptance, after all, it goes against every gender norm we grow up and are socialized with. Personally, I think until society is totally ready to face up to the reality of their existence with a mature attitude the best solution for everyone is having a third “gender neutral” restroom as my former University did. I know that’s not a perfect solution, particularly because it is precisely the point that transsexuals are not gender neutral, but it would seem to alleviate concerns. Where that is not an option however I’d suggest that individuals should talk to their employers about concerns they may have and use the restroom designated for their self-perceived gender.
When we have rape, torture and all manner of violence portrayed on the news, video-games and on the internet (particularly on Laura Schlessinger’s son Deryk’s webpage) then we have people offended by who gets to use which restroom???
The histrionics of being offended by seeing boobs or some silly little dink is way beyond being defensible anymore.
Wanna bet J. Matt Barber lets his kids play video games that show a lot worse.
I’ve encountered transwomen in the ladie’s room, too.
No big deal. Nothing to worry about.
Children peeking into the cracks in the doors…now THAT, is more of a problem.
Two thoughts, if I may:
1. ‘Fear politics’ are based upon using a peripheral issue with shock value (such as the possibility that a fetish transgendered person will use the washroom of the opposite sex for sexual pleasure).
When one argues only the peripheral issues, it shows implicit assent to the main concept of the proposed Act. [After all, if we were debating ‘immersion’ baptism versus ‘sprinkling’ baptism, we would both be then showing implicit assent to the main concept of ‘baptism’.]
‘Fear politics’ are powerful, but can be countered in my opinion, with allowing people to ask their child-level questions without reprimand, eg, “How often will such unwanted fetish behavior occur?” And “If it does occur, under what law may we remove the person from the washroom (or from the company)?”
After all, the peripheral issues are normally handled by documenting the misconduct, investigating, and dismissing the charge or dismissing the violator.
2. The actual implementation of an Act (or Law) is normally defined in the court cases that follow. Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) is still being argued in courts… and it has been over 40 years.
As a born-male that lives as a female; as someone that is considered transsexual; as someone that understands fears that are left over from our childhood are often powerful;
Most sincerely; Caryn LeMur
It may just be an LA thing, but I’ve noticed lately a trend towards unisex bathrooms. Generally there will be a large area with mirrors and sinks, a series of stalls (fully enclosed like small rooms) and then urinals behind a wall.
Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America (CWA), warned, “This [Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA)] bill would force Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owners to hire people who openly choose to engage in homosexual or cross-dressing behaviors despite a sincerely held religious belief that those behaviors are dangerous, sinful and not in keeping with basic morality.
And existing law already requires Christian, Jewish and Muslim business owners to hire people who openly choose to engage in religious behaviors that the owner may believe are dangerous, sinful and not in keeping with basic morality. Roman Catholics and Fundamentalist Protestants are barred from discriminating against those who live who are remarried after a divorce, despite their leading adulterous lifestyles. Orthodox Jews cannot refuse to hire those who live in mixed Jewish/Christian families. Atheists cannot refuse to hire believers. What is your point, Mr. Barber?
Post-op transsexuals are either physically male or female and they should be considered to be the gender they are.
But, there are also Bible-thumpers or just generally uneducated folks who believe that only male and female humans exist “because the Bible says God created males and females.” They don’t know that there are human beings who are also Intersex persons (they used to be called “hermaphrodites”) who are either completely double-gendered with both complete male and female sex organs, or a variation thereof. And there are persons who are physically asexual with no sexual organs at all. They do have a urethra so that they can urinate like women. (I used to be a casual friend with a man in his 50s who was not able to urinate like a guy, he had to sit or squat down to do that, his urethral opening was between his testicles. His scrotum was divided. He did show me how that looked close up. He was a biological father, too)
I have met some Intersex persons and Ken, my best friend who is planning to return to Tulsa soon, has Klinefelter’s Syndrome. He has undescended testicles but, he has to take hormone shots to counter the female hormones in his body. He had breasts but Medicare would not pay to have a “breast reduction” because they considered that to be cosmetic surgery.
Well, because of not having the operation, he ended up having surgery anyway to remove the growths under each side of his chest. He got picked on when he was a teenage boy because he had “boobs like a girl.” Although he endured a whole lot of pain for a long time after the operation, he had better self-esteem because he has a man’s chest.
Are there any women left in Concerned Women for America? I always enjoy the irony of CWA releases from homophobic men from “Concerned Women”…
On this topic especially, it’s as if the “women” are in reality… oh hell I can’t think of how to finish the sentence without insulting Autumn. Suffice it to say that I don’t want to be in the same bathroom with EITHER Beverly or Tim Lahaye. Creep me freaking out.
Oh, I find it interesting that Mr. Matt Barber, a man, is Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America (CWA). His statement reminds me of what happened in locally when the City of Tulsa decided to add “sexual orientation” to the anti-discrimination paragraph to the City Charter. But, instead of just adding those two words, the City’s Human Rights Commission decided to have a public hearing for citizens to discuss it.
The adding of those two words would apply to the various city agencies and also to any company or corporation that did contract work for the city of Tulsa. If a company wanted to do business with the city, it would be required that they did not discriminate because of sexual orientation.
Anyone who signed a sheet before the meeting started would be allowed to speak to the Commission. My name was quite a ways down the list. It was quite interesting that every one who opposed those words being added had to tell what their church believed or what their Bible said. Several fundamentalist church pastors assumed that ruling would apply to those whom they hired to work, too, at their churches. It was interesting how many of them claimed that there were no homosexuals in their churches because they preached it was a sin. One preacher introduced himself as the pastor of a particular independent Pentecostal church which was no even inside of the city limits, it was in Berryhill, a rural community west of town. While he lived in Tulsa, he did not say that he was speaking as an individual citizen who was registered to vote in city elections.
When it was my turn to speak, I addressed the issue from a personal POV and the fact that all people should be treated equally regardles of sexual orientation.
Since I knew whom some of the pastors were and who attended their churches, I directly addressed them and said that they were mistaken because I knew guys who were members of their churches and while in denial of their sexual orientation at church, they were otherwise openly gay in the community of Tulsa. They were shocked to hear me say that.
Instead of doing what it would have been legally right to do, the commission told the city elders that those two words did not need to be added. If my memory serves me correctly, not a one of those who spoke out against adding those 2 words that evening would even be doing business with the city anyway.
They don’t know that there are human beings who are also Intersex persons (they used to be called “hermaphrodites”) who are either completely double-gendered with both complete male and female sex organs, or a variation thereof.
IS people have one set of genitals that are in between to some degree, there’s no actual condition where someone has two sets.
The only hostile environment here is the one created by the exaggerations that CWA and other advocacy groups keep spewing. The irony is that there are plenty of things in this world to be worried about, but frankly Mr. Barber et. al., seeing a transgendered person in a restroom is not one of them. As for the business owners you say you are defending, frankly why would anyone work for someone whose ‘sincerely held beliefs’ trumped the employer/employee relationship? My duty to my employer is to do the duties he has assigned me in exchange for pay and benefits. He has a reasonable expectation that I will maintain my body and mind so that I may perform my duties but other than that, I don’t owe him explanations for my religion, my politics, my associates or other personal matters.
While some folks might say that there no condition where a person has complete sets of genitals for each gender and that it is impossible, I have read documented evidence which said it was true. But, that was before I owned a computer.
But, there are animals in the news which species is not the “hermaphrodite” kind, but males and female, and they do have two complete opposite gender organs.
In some Native American Mythologies, double-gendered humans existed. Some Two-Spirit traditions say that gays and lesbians are a result of those double-gender folks splitting into two separate beings, one male and one female. Not actually factual. I know that because I am also Native American and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. I don’t have any issued by the federal gov’t documentation that says what my European ancestry is; but, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs has documented that I have Cherokee blood.
Oh a good information source on Intersex is found at Intersex Society of North America.
Yeah! Employers wouldn’t be able to fire Jews for their heathen ways, or refuse to hire blacks because God said that the races shouldn’t mix!
…oh wait, that’s not what you were talking about?
Since Matt Barber works for an organization of “concerned women,” perhaps his arguments would be more convincing if he had included a story about which restroom he uses at the office.
I posted this comment on Box Car Bulletin today:
I listened to the podcast this morning. I enjoyed the interview very much. At first, I expect Autumn to have an upper range voice at first, then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the elderly women I knew when I was going up who sounded masculine . . . And then my friend, Tony, came to mind. Tony and her partner, Mary, used to give me rides to the Family of Faith MCC in Tulsa in the early 1990s. Tony looked like a man and acted like one but was not a transgender person. I won’t take up much space here; but, because Kathy asked me if Tony was a real guy because what Tony said about a female related operation in Kathy’s presence. Since I felt I could talk freely to Tony, I asked. Tony did confirm what Kathy wanted to know and she told me the details related to the operation. Tony said she had a male chromosome in addition to her “normal” female one. Because I felt Tony was a guy, and she had no problem with that, I have often referred to Tony as a “he.” What was most important was Tony was a friend when I needed one. The last time I saw Tony was when she visited (by herself) the church I attended and she sat by me. Her driver’s license even says “female.” I have not seen her in several years; but, I would like to tell her how I felt when she sat by me that night. It was different than what I felt before when we danced close together at an MCC sponsored event years before. Maybe someday I will be able to tell her that.
Back to today’s podcast which I listened to on iTunes. I find the very same epithets offensive that Autumn and Daniel do. “Shemale” is a made up word and definitely related to the pornography business. I have read internet discussions where “straight” men were looking for “shemales” but wanted nothing to do with gays at all. I admit to having seen “shemale” porn and it was apparent to me that person was not a pre-op transperson at all. It was a woman with a fake penis attached by surgical glue and was never soft.
Thanks again for Daniel and Autumn and their talk today.