Two trannie-related news stories for you this morning, readers. The first comes to us from Vancouver, where the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear female-to-male Kimberly Nixon‘s discrimination case against Rape Relief. Nixon filed the original suit over ten years ago, after the women’s center refused to hire her after she revealed her transsexual status.
The two sides had climbed the judicial ladder, with one lower court judge granting Nixon the winner last year, but the non-profit stuck to its guns, insisting Nixon’s past as a man made her unqualified to properly counsel rape victims.
Meanwhile, a professor at a Michigan-based Christian college named John Nemecek has been given the boot for his transgendered status, sparking a legal battle that will pit him against his religion.
Of the Nixon case, The Tyee reports:
Rape Relief’s collective belief is that far beyond a person’s biological make-up, socialization and experience are what shapes individuals. It’s part of their philosophy that women experience the male-dominated world differently than men. That was the 34-year-old organization’s original argument for why they should be allowed to exclude men when their women-only policy was first challenged in the 1970s, and they feel it’s relevant to whether they should admit transsexual women.
The law recognizes that drawing distinctions isn’t necessarily discrimination, and considers a number of factors such as whether being denied access to an organization or service prevents a complainant “participating in the life of the community.”
The group attempted to defend itself under Canada’s Section 41, a law that says non-profits with a primary interest in “promotion of the interests and welfare of an identifiable group or class of persons” can shape their organization to meet that group’s needs. For example, a group of black Jewish lesbians could, in theory, refuse to hire a black Jewish straight woman.
Though a lower court didn’t buy Rape Relief’s Section 41 argument, British Columbia Supreme Court judge Justice E.R.A. Edward thought otherwise. In a 2005 ruling, he said the group acted within the confines of the law. What’s more, he insists Nixon had another job and suggested her motives were more personal than political:
Edwards pulled no punches. He noted that Nixon had left a position at another women’s group, Battered Women’s Support Services, which accepted trans-women, and he determined that Nixon was interested in Rape Relief specifically because of its women-only policy, which, he wrote, “would vindicate her womanhood.”
By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court allows Edward’s ruling to stand as the final word: a word Nixon’s lawyer, civil rights lawyer and grammatical rebel, barbara findlay finds worrisome:
Where do we draw the line between accommodating differences and being free to discriminate? Those issues are becoming more pressing and controversial?
That’s a very good question, findlay. And, quite frankly, we don’t know the answer.
Meanwhile, here in America: Michigan’s Christian-leaning Spring Arbor University will be firing professor John Nemecek after sixteen years of loyal service. It seems they’re not down with Nemecek’s gender struggle. The Baptist minister started dabbling in cross-dressing a few years ago, when he would show up on campus in dresses and make-up. His experience made him realize that, yes, he is a woman, and he’s since become more enthusiastic about his life change. Steve Hepker reports for The Jackson Citizen Patriot:
After a lifetime of denying the woman within, Nemecek, 55, said he was diagnosed in 2004 as being transgender, or transsexual. By late 2005, estrogen therapy and subtle changes such as manicured nails and eye shadow led him to play his cards.
He explained his transformation to his supervisor, Dean Natalie Gianetti. Within a few days, President Gayle Beebe summoned him. Joanne, Nemecek’s wife of 35 years, accompanied him for support.
The meeting seemed to go well. But soon his job responsibilities changed. He was banned from appearing as a woman on campus or in town. He could not teach in classrooms, interview prospective employees or attend graduation ceremonies. His administrative duties were cut.
The university created a new contract for Nemecek that stipulated how and when he could dress as a woman. Apparently he violated some of their conditions, because Nemecek got the ax in October. Notifying him that his contract would not be renewed, human resource director Randy Rossman wrote:
People question our letting you be very public with what is for the University and many of our constituents a violation of Christian behavior and at the same time continue to hold strict positions on other issues.
In response, Nemecek’s filed a discrimination claim with Detroit’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The University, however, claims it has a right to hire only “Christian” employees under its Bona Fied Occupational Qualification status, which means that it can set restrictions for staff. Nemecek’s lawyer, however, plans to argue that the university doesn’t only hire Christians and, what’s more, doesn’t serve exclusively Christian students. Thus, they cannot use their religious leanings as legal protection.
Of the brouhaha, Nemecek says he’s disappointed the school teaches acceptance, but doesn’t practice what it preaches.
So, in these two cases we have two separate groups looking to discriminate against persons looking to live as their chosen gender. While certainly the Nemecek case seems to be pretty cut and dry – the university’s blatantly discriminating against him because he wants to live as a woman, the Canada cases complicates. We can understand Rape Relief’s hesitation to hire Nixon, although we do find it a bit hypocritical to defend women’s rights and then turn away a woman simply because she used to be a man.
So, readers, where do we draw the line when it comes to discrimination? This has become a regular topic here at Queerty, especially in light of last week’s chat about whether it’s right to request a gay roommate.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on where you stand), we’ll be dealing with this for some time to come.