The Obama administration has said the U.S. Army “discriminated” against a transgender male employee by not allowing him to use the female restroom, calling him “he,” and asking him to stop having uncomfortable and “unwanted” discussions with his co-workers about his upcoming surgical castration.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that the Department of the Army committed gender identity discrimination against “Tamara” Lusardi, a civilian quality assurance specialist who announced he wanted to become a woman.
Lusardi, who has been a civilian employee since November 2004, announced his transition in April 2010 and began presenting himself as a female six months later. Three members of management replied, “we were clear that we would support” his sex change and wanted him “treated fairly,” but they asked Lusardi “to recognize the two way street of ensuring the rights of the rest of the workforce.” As part of that, Lusardi voluntarily agreed to use a one-stall executive restroom until his final surgical operation was complete.
The managers said they had been “informed that some female workers stated they did not feel comfortable” when he used the female restroom three times. Lusardi replied he was “legally a female.”
In its August ruling, the OSC ruled that the restroom agreement “had the effect of isolating and segregating [Lusardi] and treating [him] differently from employees of [his] same gender.”
Referring to him as a man also violated federal law, the OSC claimed. Lusardi complained that his second-line supervisor “repeatedly referred to [him] by [his] birth name,” “used 'he' to refer to [him], in at least two team meetings,” and once referred to him as “sir” in an email.
Civil rights officials also slammed Lusardi's managers for asking him to refrain from sharing the specifics of his impending sex-change operation with co-workers in detail. Such “unwelcome comments” were not appropriate “office chatter,” one supervisor told Lusardi. “I'm getting a lot of people telling me you're approaching them with information,” he said, asking him to “please be mindful of your surroundings and conversations with others.”
The OSC held that this was improper because, although numerous employees complained that the discussions adversely affected them, it did not stop them from performing their jobs.
The combined effect of these three policies caused Lusardi “significant discomfort and humiliation,” the Obama administration ruled.
A report from OSC written on August 28, said the Department of the Army violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10) and its actions “likely constitute…sex discrimination.” Neither statute mentions transgender people as a protected class entitled to privileged employment status.
“The Obama administration should not be adding protected categories to non-discrimination codes that are not found in the Constitution or in statutory law,” Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews. “This is the executive branch usurping a legislative function.”
Although the OSC said that supervisors acted “perhaps with the best of intentions” while “navigating new terrain,” it ruled that they had to endure sensitivity training – something Sprigg called “wholly inappropriate.”
“This is simply a form of ideological indoctrination, and a prelude to permitting transgenders to serve on active duty in the military,” he said. Similar training materials issued by the military after homosexuals were allowed to openly serve, seem to undermine any moral objection or aversion to homosexuality. The Associated Press reports that the materials teach soldiers, “There is nothing wrong with 'hanging around' a gay bar,” and “if a Marine spots two men in his battalion kissing off-duty at a shopping mall, he should react as if he were seeing a man and woman.”
The ruling denied any financial damages but Lusardi, who is represented by the Transgender Law Center, has already contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to pursue additional penalties against the U.S. Army.
“I applaud [Mr.] Lusardi for standing up not only for [his] rights, but for those of all federal employees,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. “The Army deserves credit for seeking to right the wrongs that [Mr.] Lusardi faced and for creating a more welcoming environment for its LGBT employees.”
The announcement comes as transgender activists have made another push to repeal the military's ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, a still-marginal view embraced by a growing number of liberal Democrats.
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Sandra Fluke told a gathering at Claremont McKenna College on February 13, “We still don’t let trans-folk join the military. That needs to change.” Weeks later, controversial Clinton Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders issued a report calling for transgender people to be able to serve in the military. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and fellow California Democratic Representative Susan Davis have also endorsed the call.
None have served in the military.
In May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he is “open to” allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military, but said it is “an area we've not defined enough.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told U.S. News and World Report recently that no review of the policy has yet been ordered.
Still, transgender demonstrators are confident the administration will deliver. “We all know it’s inevitable [that the policy will be changed] and it’s inevitable relatively soon,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Washington Post.