No transwomen allowed

The Library of Congress offers David Schroer a job and rescinds the offer after learning he's becoming Diane.

Published August 21, 2008 2:30PM (EDT)

Jeez, this is sad. Diane Schroer devoted a lengthy and prestigious career to the U.S. government, spending seven years as a member of the Army's Special Forces and supervising a 120-member antiterrorism organization after 9/11, and how did it thank her? With a big, old "fuck you," that's how. In 2004, she accepted the job of terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress only to have the offer rescinded when she (then living as David, a man) informed her future supervisor that she was transitioning to become a woman.

Schroer, with help from the ACLU, is suing the Library of Congress for sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. She's seeking the job she was denied, as well as $300,000 in damages. Sounds like an open-and-shut case, right? Schroer should have her job and her money in no time flat. But here's the catch: As the Library of Congress so helpfully points out, the Civil Rights Act doesn't protect transsexuals from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.

Charlotte Preece, the woman who rescinded the job offer, put forward a few other flimsy reasons for why Schroer's transsexualism would make her unfit for the position. According to the Washington Post, she worried that "Schroer 'might be unable to maintain high-level contacts in the military intelligence community' and 'might not be viewed as credible' by members of Congress." That is, politicians and military officials might be too bigoted to trust a transwoman. Great. Preece also spuriously suggested that Schroer's transition from man to woman would distract her from her job. Huh. Is it just me, or does that sound hauntingly familiar? Oh, right -- that's because it recalls some employers' refusal to hire women of childbearing age who might tax the company's resources by popping out a baby!

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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