In LEAGUE with equality

As the employee resource group prepares to turn 25, it celebrates equality gained at AT&T and focuses on anti-bullying efforts

Bates-McLemore.Theresa
Theresa Bates-McLemore

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

As Dallas prepares for the arrival of the national Out & Equal Workplace Advocates convention in October, LEAGUE, the LGBT employee resource group at AT&T, is making plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The AT&T group was the original LGBT employee resource group, begun after the first March on Washington in 1987, and is a model that has been recreated since then across corporate America.

LEAGUE held its national convention at the Melrose Hotel in Oak Lawn on Sept. 9, and openly gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns spoke at the Saturday night awards program about his “It Gets Better” experience (see story, Page 27). The group is beginning to prepare its own “It Gets Better” materials on behalf of AT&T, and in Burns’ honor, the group made a donation to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Several awards were given to Dallas LEAGUE members during the convention last weekend.

National Executive of the Year went to Gary Fraundorfer, vice president of human resources, who was honored for re-evaluating all company HR policies to make sure AT&T’s policies treat LGBT employees equally.
Fraundorfer recently joined the Resource Center Dallas board of directors.
“Awards from employees mean the most because they’ll hold you the most accountable,” he said.

But Fraundorfer wanted LEAGUE members to know just how committed to equality the company is.

“We mean it when we say we want things to be equivalent for spouses and partners,” he said. “The goal is complete parity.”

Among AT&T’s 11 latest initiatives to ensure parity is the addition of gender reassignment surgery to the company insurance plan for the company’s transgender employees.

John Cramer, LEAGUE’s national public affairs director, was among the recipients of a “LEAGUE Cares about Bullying” award. He said that the company has rallied around the group’s anti-bullying efforts.

LEAGUE President Theresa Bates-McLemore said she’s heard from employees across the company thanking her for the group’s anti-bullying efforts.

“I’ve heard heartfelt stories from straight people who said, ‘We didn’t know how to do this,’” Bates-McLemore said.

Cramer said that bullying is not just a gay issue and the LEAGUE campaign is helping employees across the company and others outside of AT&T as well.

The new chapter of the year award went to Puerto Rico.

“They took the League Cares About Bullying initiative to a new level,” Bates-McLemore said.

That chapter created an “It Gets Better” public service campaign with Telemundo.

LEAGUE has 45 chapters across the country with about 750 members. Nationally, the group provides scholarships to at-risk LGBT youth and contributes to the “It Gets Better” campaign and has awarded about $150,000.

Locally, LEAGUE supports the community in Dallas with Black Tie Dinner tables. Team AT&T will participate in the Lone Star Ride. And earlier this year the group made a $5,000 contribution to Resource Center Dallas to support its communications technology needs.

And the group supports its members.

For LEAGUE member Mark Carden from Atlanta, the group has had a much more personal impact. He was already working at AT&T when he came out.

“LEAGUE made me feel more secure about myself and the workplace,” he said. “It helped me grow personally and professionally.”

Look for Cramer, Bates-McLemore and other Dallas LEAGUE members in the parade and at the festival in the park. They’ll ride in an AT&T eco-friendly vehicle down Cedar Springs and give out T-shirts and beads.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Judge apologizes for delay in ruling on trans inmate’s case

Michelle Kosilek

Kosilek’s case demanding that the state pay for her gender reassignment surgery dates back to 2006

DENISE LAVOIE | Associated Press

BOSTON — A federal judge has apologized to a transgender inmate who has waited years for a ruling on whether she can get a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation.

Michelle Kosilek, a convicted murderer, first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 11 years ago.

Two years later, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering surgery to complete Kosilek’s transformation into a woman.

Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the female hormones she was receiving were not enough to relieve her anxiety and depression. Kosilek argued that the surgery was a medical necessity and that the Department of Correction was violating her constitutional rights by refusing to provide the operation.

Since 2006, Wolf has heard hundreds of hours of testimony from medical experts and others, but has not issued his ruling.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, as Kosilek’s lawyers made additional arguments citing recent rulings in other transgender cases, Wolf apologized for taking so long.

“I deeply regret that my decision in this case has not yet been issued,” he said.

Wolf, the chief judge at U.S. District Court in Boston, has handled a number of noteworthy cases recently.

He presided over the trial of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who was convicted in June of conspiracy, extortion and other charges.

He also is scheduled to rule on a request for a new trial in the federal death penalty case of Gary Sampson, a drifter from Abington who was sentenced to death after killing three people during a weeklong crime rampage in 2001.

Wolf told attorneys for Kosilek and the Department of Correction that he knows the case “is extremely important … to all parties.”

“I will continue to keep that in mind,” he said.

Kosilek, born as Robert, was convicted of killing his wife in 1990.

Kosilek, now 62, legally changed his name to Michelle in 1993. She has received hormone treatments and lives as a woman in the state prison in Norfolk, a medium-security, all-male facility.

During the Aug. 18 hearing, Kosilek’s lawyer, Frances Cohen, said a recent ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of another transgender inmate bolsters Kosilek’s claim that prison officials are violating her constitutional rights by denying her the surgery.

In the ruling, the appeals court upheld a lower court judge who found the state Department of Correction had shown deliberate indifference to inmate Sandy Battista’s medical needs by repeatedly denying her request for female hormone treatments.

The court found that the department’s claim that its decision was based on security concerns had been “undercut by a collection of pretexts, delays and misrepresentations.”

Prison officials have cited similar security concerns in the Kosilek case, saying that allowing her to have the surgery could make her a target for sexual assaults by other inmates.

Cohen said the security concerns were also a pretext in the Kosilek case.

“It is remarkably similar to what we’ve been hearing in this court for quite some time,” she said.

But Richard McFarland, a lawyer for the Department of Correction, said the prison officials are genuinely concerned about security problems if Kosilek is allowed to have the surgery.

He cited the testimony of former DOC Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy, who said the department’s decision to deny the surgery had nothing to do the costs — about $20,000 — or the political ramifications of allowing an inmate to have a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation.

McFarland said the DOC has given Kosilek hormone treatments, female items and psychotherapy to help her deal with gender-identity disorder.

“We argue that the treatment provided to Miss Kosilek is adequate” and the surgery is not a medical necessity, McFarland said.

Wolf asked both sides to submit additional arguments in writing by Sept. 16. He tentatively scheduled another hearing for Oct. 11.

—  John Wright

COVER STORY: Need to know

FAMILY TIES | Gregg Spradlin came to Dallas to help his daughter, Jamy Spradlin, recover from her gender reassignment surgery. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Trans women talk about how to come out, when, and to whom

RELATED STORY: Femme X provides service to people learning to be women

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Perhaps one of the greatest fears that transgender people face is losing the love and support of family and friends when they “come out” about their gender identity. For transwoman Jamy Spradlin, honesty has definitely been the best policy.

“I don’t usually lie to people,” she said. “Covering lies is difficult.”

That policy has paid off for her.

Jamy said her father, Gregg Spradlin, who lives in Illinois, came to recently Dallas to be with her through her gender reassignment surgery.

Gregg didn’t think that was out of the ordinary. One of his children was having surgery. He’s retired and free to travel, so of course he was there for her.

Gregg said he was glad to help Jamy through her recuperation, but the best part for him was that they got to spend two weeks together.

“My relationship with Dad is closer than it’s ever been,” Jamy said.

And Gregg agreed, saying that’s because Jamy has been honest with him about who she is.

Although she has been honest with her father about her gender identity, Jamy is careful about telling others that she is transgender.

“I wait to tell people, let them get to know me,” Jamy said. “If they have their own preconceived notion about what transgender is, they’ll know me first.”

But there are no set rules about who to tell or when. In fact, Spradlin broke her own rule about waiting when she went to buy her first bra.

Jamy said she went to Victoria’s Secret where she found a saleswoman she was comfortable with and confided in. She said she had to be honest with the saleswoman and tell her that she had no idea how to measure herself for a bra or figure out what size she needed, because asking the saleswoman for that kind of help without any further explanation would be confusing: How could a woman Jamy’s age not know anything about bra size?

But Jamy also knew that other transgender women have been thrown out of stores for no reason other than who they are. So she was relieved when her saleswoman smiled, told her to come to the back and promised to get her fixed up.

Of course, that saleswoman was smart. She gained a loyal customer.

In the workplace

Dee Boydston is facing a different type of coming out situation: She was married 20 years and has a 19-year-oldc son, and recently passed a milestone in her life when she decided to live fulltime as a woman.

While her marriage is over, Boydston said, her son is completely accepting of her intent to transition.

Boydston works from home for a Fortune 500 company so transitioning on the job has not been a problem — until now.

“I’m at a point that I don’t want to flip back and forth,” she said.

Boydston communicates with other employees primarily by phone. She regularly talks to a company recruiter in Plano who recently suggested they get together for lunch.

And Boydston heads a team of employees who also work from their homes. The group will be getting together soon for a team meeting for the first time.

Both the recruiter and her team assume she’s a man.

So Boydston took her first step at work. Before they met, she told the recruiter, “I have to tell you something.”

She said the recruiter was totally accepting and their lunch meeting went fine. She’s hoping for the same acceptance from her team.

Marla Compton, who heads the transgender group GEAR at Resource Center Dallas, works for one of the largest banks. She said that the major banks tend to be transgender-friendly.

“But just because the company is transgender-friendly doesn’t mean the HR person is,” Compton said.

After applying for one job, Compton said the HR person was showing her around the office and introducing her to people she would be working with.

“Then I told her I was transgender and I never heard from her again,” Compton said.

But Compton thinks it’s important to be honest with employers so that everything from insurance to social security is filed correctly.

Dating and relationships

Dating and relationships present even more coming out challenges.

Compton said that while coming out is a personal choice, “I always tell the other person right off the bat.”

She said she has heard stories of people going out. Then the relationship begins to get physical and the other person finds out in the bedroom.

“That can be very dangerous,” Compton said. “I know of a person who kept it from a spouse for years — it was a very nasty situation.”

Spradlin’s advice is to be careful about where to come out. She said that many people meet in bars and come out where people are drinking. That might not be the best setting.

“Do it in a safe place,” she said. “A public setting but not when you’re in a position where you can be attacked.”

Compton asks herself if she feels safe and comfortable with the other person.

“That’s going to have a bearing on my choice,” she said.

But if she’s dating someone, she said she has to reveal her past. The other person will quickly realize something is missing when your past is left as a blank slate.

They’ll ask, “Why don’t you have graduation pictures? Childhood pictures?” Compton said. “If it’s nothing to be ashamed of, we have nothing to hide.”

Her best advice is to use common sense.

“There are men out there who are attracted to women who are pre-op,” Compton said. “So it’s case by case.”

But she described situations when she was in a club and could have gone home with somebody but didn’t.

“I was glad I didn’t,” she said. “Trust your instincts. Sometimes we overlook the warning signs.”

She said she doesn’t date someone — or go home with anyone — she’s not comfortable telling about her gender identity.

“If it’s someone who cares about you, your gender identity won’t matter,” Compton said.

Her experience with coming out to others is that it doesn’t faze some. She’s found others attracted to her more.

“Some admire what we have to go through,” she said.

The best therapy

Blair High, as CEO of a Plano-based corporation, was a bond trader responsible for billion dollar portfolios who had played football in school.

Today, High volunteers on the help line at Resource Center Dallas on Wednesday nights, giving information on transgender issues.

“The best therapy for anyone is to be yourself,” she said.

High said that sometimes coming out can be as bad as suppressing. “Some people call [who are] thinking of killing themselves,” she said. “They can’t stand it anymore.”

High recommends they come to a meeting and meet other trans people. She said sometimes they will come and just cry for the first 30 minutes they’re there.

Often, the calls High takes are from men who are married with children. She tells them to come out to their wives. She said that they should tell the spouse that they’re having these feelings and would like to go to some therapy.

High, who has been married for 18 years, said that’s what she did with her wife.

“It was not an easy thing,” she said. “It’s still an issue.”

High said when she told her wife that she was having these feelings and wanted to go to therapy, her wife thought that was great.

“As time went by and things were the same, it wasn’t so great,” she said.

But they remain together.

“We love each other,” she said. “We care about each other.”

Trans woman Pam Curry said she “gave up trying to hide years ago.”

She said she got advice from John Thomas, the first executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, who told her to “Be true to your cause.”

Curry said she stopped worrying about it and stopped trying to be perfect.

Because she’s so open about her gender identity, Compton said she gets lots of questions. She said she’ll answer most but is surprised when she’s asked graphic sexual questions, especially by someone she’s just met.

Those are people she puts at arms length, she said.

“But I’m proud to be a transsexual,” Compton said. “I’ll never hide from it.”

—  John Wright

Anti-gay protesters pack Fort Worth City Council chamber

Opponents of city’s diversity initiatives speaking during council meeting, even though issue wasn’t on the agenda

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — A crowd of about 200 people opposing recent diversity initiatives implemented by the city of Fort Worth packed Cowtown’s City Council chambers on Tuesday, July 13, even though nothing related to the initiatives was on the council’s agenda.

Five individuals representing the opponents spoke during the portion of the meeting allotted for citizen comments, while four representatives from Fairness Fort Worth spoke in support of the city’s efforts to improve relations with its LGBT community.

The diversity initiatives grew out of recommendations forwarded to the council by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force and approved by City Manager Dale Fisler late last year. The task force — comprising 16 city employees and 16 LGBT community representatives, all appointed by Fisler — was formed last summer in the wake of the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by officers with the Fort Worth Police Department and agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The recommendations suggested by the task force included improved diversity training for all city employees, domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian city employees, coverage of gender reassignment surgery for transgender employees in transition, promoting the city as a destination for LGBT tourism, and lobbying for passage of state and federal laws banning anti-LGBT discrimination in employment.

The task force also recommended that the council amend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to specifically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

Most of the recommendations involved procedural changes that could be implemented by the city manager without a vote by the council.

The council did vote, 6-3, on Nov. 11 last year to add specific gender identity protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance.

The vote came after a marathon hearing during which numerous people spoke in favor of and against the amendment.

However city staff are still studying the feasibility of offering domestic partner benefits and adding coverage for gender reassignment surgery.

A spokesman in the office of Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said this week that the resurgence of opposition may have been tied to the one-year anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge raid. This week’s meeting was the council’s first since the June 28 anniversary date.

But Thomas Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said his organization believes Diversity Task Force opponents had intended to speak during time set aside for public comments on the proposed budget for the city’s Crime Control and Prevention District budget. That budget includes funds to pay for diversity training for police officers and for officer recruitment efforts within the LGBT community, he said.

However, the council voted to delay the public hearing on that budget for two weeks.

“They were there because they felt like they got shut out of the process [of the Diversity Task Force] last year,” Anable, who was a member of the task force, said on Wednesday, after the council meeting. “Every meeting that the task force had was open to the public, and nobody showed up.”

Anable said he believes the move to bring the opponents to the Tuesday night council meeting this week was led by Richard Clough, a failed candidate for Tarrant County judge who is an associate minister with Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

“They said last November when the task force’s report was presented to the council, and when the council voted on the transgender ordinance, they said then that they had been left out and that they would be back,” Anable said. “I think, with the CCPD budget on the agenda this week, they saw an opportunity to try and make a sneak attack.”

Anable said Fairness Fort Worth learned on Monday of e-mails that had been circulated over the weekend among conservative and evangelical Christian churches, calling on evangelical Christians to pack the council chambers at Tuesday’s meeting.

But instead of sending out a calling for the LGBT community and its allies to attend also, Anable said his organization chose to organize a small, but visible, contingent to attend as a show of support for the city’s initiatives, with specific community leaders signing up to speak.

“We didn’t want a big catfight,” Anable said.

“We just wanted to have people there to show support, with just a few speaking. We wanted to give a calm and dignified response.”

Anable said after the meeting he feels confident that the city council will not reverse the progress it has made so far on diversity issues — a confidence that was reinforced by Mayor Mike Moncrief’s statements both before and after the citizen comment session.

Moncrief opened the comment session with an admonition to both sides to “be respectful” and with a pledge that the city would not go backward.

“I am very pleased with the progress we have had to date,” the mayor said. It has certainly reflected the diversity of our city. And it reflects this city’s belief that no one should be discriminated against, no matter who they are. And that is not going to change.

That is important for all of us, whether its an ordinance or not, that should be an ordinance in life. No one should be discriminated against.”

The five men who spoke against the Diversity Task Force and the city’s diversity initiatives all criticized city officials for “promoting a homosexual agenda” against the wishes of what they said is a majority of the city’s residents.

Clough, who stood at the podium flanked by supporters wearing paper badges printed with the word “Truth,” began by accusing Mayor Mike Moncrief and the council of “intentionally hiding the implementation of a homosexual agenda.”

The accusation prompted an angry rebuttal for the mayor, who threatened to have Clough removed from the council chambers if he continued with “personal attacks.”

The two men argued briefly, with Clough continuing to speak over the mayor’s admonishments and with Moncrief at one point turning off the microphone at the podium where Clough stood.

“We have a way of doing business here, and that is not to come in here and personally attack anybody. We don’t attack you, nor does anyone on our staff. We don’t expect you to come in here and attack us,” Moncrief said. “If you want to talk about the diversity task force, that is all well and good. But don’t expect to come in here and get away with personal attacks.”

When Moncrief allowed Clough to continue, the minister accused the mayor of refusing to meet with him, although some council members had met with him. Clough said that “every voice was not heard” on the Diversity Task Force’s recommendations, adding that the council was going against the wishes of the majority of the city’s citizens who had, he said, voted against same-sex marriage in 2004 by a 77 percent majority.

He criticized the city for spending money to send lobbyists to Washington, D.C., to promote passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and for promoting the city as a destination for LGBT tourism.

“Who are you promoting it to? Queer liberation [possibly a reference to the now-defunct direct action group Queer LiberAction]? To NAMBLA — the North American Man-Boy Love Association? Or are you just promoting it to the gay chambers?” Clough said.

Clough also criticized the addition of gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, suggesting that council members “ask the ladies do they want a man who suffers from gender identity disorder coming in on them in the bathroom. … If they gays want to promote something, let them spend their own money to promote it.”

Clough said the city “has no business promoting the homosexual lifestyle, just like it has no business promoting the heterosexual lifestyle.”

He said that while the city should “stand against hatred or discrimination or abuse of any kind,” the media and the LGBT community have “distorted the facts” surrounding the Rainbow Lounge raid and are using that to “promote the homosexual agenda.”

“Homosexuality can be divisive. That’s not my intent,” Clough said. “My intent is to have all voices heard and find a solution that is best for all.”

Robert Hayes said the city’s leadership “should serve the people of the city, serve the masses, and not cater to the wishes of the few.” He said that the raid at the Rainbow Lounge was a situation that should have been investigated by police department officials, and “not a situation to make sweeping changes in the city.”

“Do we set up a task force if we find the city has an unusually large number of employees coming down with the flu? Do we set one up to discuss who can live in what area of town? Then my question is, why did we set up a task force for diversity when it appears we only had a question of the use of force and the appropriate degree of force that was used?” Hayes said.

The Rev. Perfeto Esquibel, pastor of Christian Worship Center of Fort Worth, complained that the task force “seems to be made up of only one certain interest group rather than a combination of people with different opinions about gay civil rights.”

Esquibel also said it is “a slap in the face” to racial and ethnic minorities to call LGBT people a minority. He said the task force and the city’s diversity initiatives are part of a “gay rights agenda” being pushed by a “minute” number of people, and that most Fort Worth residents are Christians who believe that “the Bible is the word of God, and it’s what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are based on.”

John Carlson, a Fort Worth businessman and husband of Texas Eagle Forum President Pat Carlson, told the council he believed it was irresponsible to spend city dollars on diversity initiatives when the city is facing a budget shortfall.

“This diversity will expand benefits and increase spending. Taxpayers do not want increased spending or taxes,” Carlson said.

He said that as a businessman who provides insurance to his employees, he knows that health insurance costs increase every year. Providing coverage to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian city employees would increase the city’s costs, he said, because gays and lesbians engage in ‘undeniably risky behavior. … If that lifestyle were a pack of cigarettes, it would require a surgeon general’s warning.”

Carlson said, “If you insure domestic partners, what if they have more than one partner? … Why not insure boyfriends or girlfriends? … Where does this coverage end? It just goes on.”

Scott Graham, who described himself as a businessman and former police officer, said he had conducted his own investigation into the Rainbow Lounge raid.

He repeated allegations that patrons in the bar that night sexually harassed and groped officers (those allegations were found to be either false or grossly exaggerated during official investigations), and accused witnesses and LGBT community leaders of “gross misrepresentations” of the raid and of “mak[ing] things up as they went along.”

Graham said, “Government was created by God to protect His definition of family,” and then asked for — and received — permission to “pray and speak a blessing over our city.”

The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church, was the first of four speakers to speak in support of the Diversity Task Force and its recommendations. Noting that she is a member of Fairness Fort Worth and one of the people who leads the city’s new diversity training, West said that the training makes clear that it’s purpose is not to address religious issues or question anyone’s religious beliefs.

The training, she said, is designed to give “a perspective of the GLBT community. … Is there a homosexual agenda? I have heard a lot of talk about it, and you [task force opponents] talk a lot more about it than we [LGBT people] ever do.

“We teach that everyone is your customer. We say treat everyone with respect. Treat people with dignity. We teach about not demeaning people, not making people unwanted,” West said. “If that is a homosexual agenda, then it needs to be spread around.”

Steve Dutton, a task force member, and Lisa Thomas, a member of the task force, the city’s Human Rights Commission and Fairness Fort Worth, also spoke during the council meeting. But said the diveristy initiatives are a question of equal treatment, not religious beliefs.

To close the public comment session, Moncrief said he believes there is “respect in this city. There is room for all of us.

“We are trying to work through something very difficult. We weren’t pleased to be in the national spotlight for what happened or didn’t happen. But it was and is up to us to find out what happened. Obviously, somebody did something. TABC certainly felt somebody did something they shouldn’t have, because they fired the two agents that were involved.”

He added, “Don’t feel like we were not listening, because we were. We are. I hope you all feel like you have been heard tonight. … What’s in the Bible or what isn’t in the Bible, that’s not our job. Our job is to maintain the quality of life in our city, and that’s what this [diversity] training is all about.”

……..

To watch complete video of the Fort Worth City Council meeting, go online to FortWorthGov.org.

—  Kevin Thomas

DART accused of transphobia

Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

John Wright | News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.

As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.

The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.

But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.

“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”

Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.

As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.

In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.

Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”

Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.

Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.

“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”

Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.

“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”

Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.

Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.

“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

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