Thursday, August 20, 2009

Candice Metzler fired after coming out as trans in Utah

In Salt Lake City, Candice Metzler decided to come out about her transition by wearing makeup to a company picnic. This move was approved and encouraged by her boss. But soon after that, the stability and support she had built at the small home-inspection business was rescinded. The economy took a downturn, customers were harder to find, and Ms. Metzler lost her job just three months after coming out; she could not find any work in a related field. Metzler was homeless for a year before she found a job as a receptionist.

Metzler is now calling attention to her trials by hosting a community forum on the issue, and going back to school to study psychology with an eye towards helping homeless TBGL youths.

This is something of a pattern in Salt Lake City*:

In 2007, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Utah Transit Authority's decision to fire a transgender bus driver after she asked to use women's restrooms.
She was told she could come back to work after her reassignment surgery.
I don't have a lot to add here except to point out that this happens on a daily basis. Without cis privilege, one's job and home are far from secure. The stuff that allows life to function in our society - a paycheck, a stable home to return to, personal safety - are never guaranteed to trans folks because of the cis supremacist attitude of officials like Utah Governor Gary Herbert:

"Governor Herbert feels very strongly that people ought to be treated fairly and with respect at all times, in all situations," she said. "For that reason, he is cautious about laws that grant special status, on any basis, by expanding protected classes beyond those already in place in state and federal laws."
So, Herbert believes that everyone should always be treated with respect, but that if they are not treated with respect specifically because of a facet of their identity, tough shit. Gov. Herbert's logic-free statement is a sorry excuse to continue to allow and even encourage cis sexism and trans hatred. It's a way to devalue the rights that Ms. Metzler and others demand, and pretend that they're not subject to any hatred or discrimination.

Luckily, the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, does not share these bigoted views and prefers to take practical and actual steps to end discrimination by proposing a city-wide ordinance that explicitly protects the rights of the entire TBGQLIA community. The protection extends to housing, employment, and public areas. The ordinance doesn't look perfect, but it's a step in the right direction that Utah as a whole is unwilling to make.

*The language in the source article is actually quite respectful (as I see it through a cis lens). Ms. Metzler is referred to by correct pronouns, and references to her previous presentation are not constructed as "when Metzler was a man" but rather that Metzler was "[k]nown to them as a man". It's a fair article that is sympathetic to Ms. Metzler without editorializing, which is nice to see.


  1. Well said, RMJ!

    Sometimes I can hardly believe how much feminism has moved forward on this. I should write a post for Shakesville on what it was like to be a trans woman and a feminist back in the early 90s. *shudder* I like it this way a lot better.

    Thanks for writing this. :)

  2. Another great post. As a {former} health advocate and funder, I was very involved with the LBGT Center in New York. Many of the staff are Trans, and all have gotten graduate degrees in psychology or MSWs to give back and stay in the community.

    I hope this too will help Ms. Meltzer find her way.


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