Senate Bill Bans Discrimination Against Cross-Dressers

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 4, 2013 | 12:56pm EST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (AP Photo)

( - The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will come up for a cloture vote in the Senate today, mandates that employers in the United States permit men to dress as women at work and women to dress as men as long as they otherwise adhere to “reasonable dress or grooming standards.”

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the bill's primary sponsor, has been joined by 55 co-sponsors. So, the bill already has the backing of a 56-vote majority in the 100-member Senate.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is one of the co-sponsor of the bill, as is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.).

The bill states that its purpose is “to address the history and persistent, widespread pattern of discrimination, including unconstitutional discrimination, on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity by private sector employers and local, State, and Federal Government employers.”

“The term ‘gender identity,’” the bill says, “means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

The bill goes on to state that it will be illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person not only because of their actual “gender identity” but also because of their “perceived” gender identity.

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer—to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Section 8 of the proposed law specifically states that employers must permit workers who either have undergone “gender transition” or are “undergoing” a “gender transition” to dress and groom themselves according to the gender to which they have transitioned or are transitioning.

It says:

“DRESS OR GROOMING STANDARDS.—Nothing in this Act shall prohibit an employer from requiring an employee, during the employee’s hours at work, to adhere to reasonable dress or grooming standards not prohibited by other provisions of Federal, State, or local law, provided that the employer permits any employee who has undergone gender transition prior to the time of employment, and any employee who has notified the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition after the time of employment, to adhere to the same dress or grooming standards as apply for the gender to which the employee has transitioned or is transitioning.”

The proposed law does not define what “gender transition” means.

However, the August 2012 edition of The International Journal of Transgenderism published an article on the “Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender-Nonconforming People” that offers some insights on that and other terms used in the Senate’s proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Gender identity,” says The International Journal of Transgenderism, is: “A person’s intrinsic sense of being male (a boy or a man), female (a girl or a woman), or an alternative gender (e.g., boygirl, girlboy, transgender, genderqueer, eunuch).”

“Transition,” says the journal, is: “Period of time when individuals change from the gender role associated with their sex assigned at birth to a different gender role. For many people, this involves learning how to live socially in another gender role; for others this means finding a gender role and expression that is most comfortable for them. Transition may or may not include feminization or masculinization of the body through hormones or other medical procedures. The nature and duration of transition is variable and individualized.”

“Previously unrecognized gender dysphoria is occasionally diagnosed when patients are seen with anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, substance abuse, dissociative identity disorders, borderline personality disorder, sexual disorders, and disorders of sex development,” said the journal article. “Some cross-dressers, drag queens/kings or female/male impersonators, and gay and lesbian individuals may be experiencing gender dysphoria. The intensity of some people’s gender dysphoria fluctuates below and above a clinical threshold.”

“As the field matured, health professionals recognized that while many individuals need both hormone therapy and surgery to alleviate their gender dysphoria, others need only one of these treatment options and some need neither,” it said.

“As a generation of transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals has come of age—many of whom have benefitted from different therapeutic approaches—they have become more visible as a community and demonstrated considerable diversity in their gender identities, roles, and expressions,” said the journal article.

“Some individuals describe themselves not as gender nonconforming but as unambiguously cross-sexed,” said the article. “Other individuals affirm their unique gender identity and no longer consider themselves to be either male or female. Instead, they may describe their gender identity in specific terms such as transgender, bigender, or genderqueer, affirming their unique experiences that may transcend a male/female binary understanding of gender.”

MRC Store