Sunday, March 11, 2007

Some Gender Hysteria

Really folks this is the 21 Century but I guess old typological habits die hard. Witness these two bits of gender hysteria. First from Largo Florida, the city manager of 14 years is being fired for being a "transsexual" and wanting to transition from male to female, according to an article in the South Florida News Press.

Supposedly, according to one of the City Commissioners, Mary Gray Black, Stanton's announcement:

"caused stress, turmoil, distraction and work disruption" She says further:

"I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager of the city of Largo..."

Personally I agree with the St. Petersburg Times which notes Stanton's skill and says that officials ought to be judged on this rather than their sex. I wonder if Stanton would be in the same fix were he gay rather than transgendered.

Of course the conservatives such as Mrs Black who want to fire Stanton carefully craft their reasoning so that it appears that they are firing him for other reasons such as the city doesn't trust Stanton anymore. Ya right. The Delightful Yank down in Largo is following this controversy closely.

By the way Black won a narrow election posing as a family values candidate with the slogan:
"To God be the glory." Seems like the God she worships must be a different one than mine.

See if this wasn't enough, hop on over to Michigan and Spring Arbor University where Julie Nemecek, a long standing faculty member who served as an associate dean is being fired for being a transsexual. SAU is a private religious University so I suppose one could say they have a right to do what they think is consistent with their teachings or at least their interpretation of scripture.

But where does the right of private association end and public accommodation begin? In housing and other public accommodations such discrimination is generally illegal but employment especially by private employers is another matter. I am quite pleased to see that some community colleges are reviewing their association with SAU in light of the schools actions.

More press coverage here covers Nemecek's development and coming out process, and I can relate to many of the things she went through when young and as an adult dealing with my own gender issues. Some of my previous blogging on these sorts of issues is at:

Sex roles and gender identity

Are Gender Identity conflicts a disease?

July 2000.

Is this the New Approach to Ministry for GLBT people?

Gender Identity Proposal in NYC.

A good discussion of some of the legal issues raised by these cases, especially the Stanton case is at Transgender Workplace Diversity. This blog notes, with respect to the Nemecek case, that:

"...the school’s website does not indicate that the school is supported, controlled or managed by a religion. Therefore, it is going to have to show a BFOQ. But Nemecek is not a clergyman or a teacher of religious classes, and it doesn’t hire only religious Wesleyan Protestants (the school’s denomination). Its curriculum is not directed solely to the propagation of a religion, since most of its courses are secular. In fact, its website discloses that its mission is based on what it calls “The Concept,” which includes secular as well as religious aims. “The Concept goes to the heart of our mission as a university. By anchoring our mission to the 'lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts,' we connect with a 2,500 year history dating back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle." This doesn’t bode well for its BFOQ defense."

We shall see. Either of these cases could end up setting important legal precedent in the battle for the right of gender expression. In the meantime, prepare for lots of scare tactics and misinformation from certain conservative groups about these issues. Gender, after all, is a favorite hot button issue of the right.

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