In this op-ed, Teen Vogue editor Lucy Diavolo examines what the Supreme Court case on transgender inclusion in employment nondiscrimination protections means for her future as a trans woman.
On October 8, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in a landmark case that could change my future. The nine justices will consider the question of whether or not LGBTQ+ people deserve legal protection from being fired just for being who they are. As a queer transgender woman, wondering how the court will land is more than just legal prognostication; it’s a thought experiment in what the rest of my life could look like.
Looking back at this country’s history of anti-cross-dressing laws, we see that to be trans in the United States is to live in a nation where we’ve been criminalized simply for the shirts (or blouses) on our backs if those clothes are deemed suitable only for someone on the other side of a broken, patriarchal gender binary.
The history that has held trans people underground is ugly. There is still no way to guarantee getting clocked (noticed) as trans in a job interview won’t ruin your prospects or that coming out at work won’t make your life infinitely harder or even cost you your job. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to understand that these impacts are felt especially hard by people already facing down forces of oppression based on race or class. It’s not hard to see how lacking these rights makes life harder for, as an example, low-income trans women of color, many of whom have led the fight for LGBTQ+ liberation even as they’ve remained targets of violence and made their living outside the legal limits of our economy.
On Sunday, NBC News published interviews with trans workers who shared stories of being laughed out of interviews, of awkward questions hanging over meetings, and bosses who refused to get on board with new names or pronouns. Just as bad to me are the stories I’ve been told about managers who suddenly scrutinize every little move and discipline every tiny mistake. I’ve had frequent conversations with friends about their legal grounds to file a discrimination claim, and that is the reality for too many who come out in the interview phase or on the job.
This was something that was all too real to me in 2015, when I was working at a factory in my home state of Ohio and wondering how I could possibly approach coming out and beginning my transition. Read more via Teen Vogue