policecarA settlement has been reached in a landmark discrimination case involving a transgender police officer in the Bay Area. The case was brought by Transgender Law Center and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center on behalf of “Officer T.,” a 17-year veteran of the police department who was subjected to serious discrimination and harassment by other officers after he transitioned from female to male.

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Officer T. repeatedly notified superior officers of the harassment, which included being intentionally called by the wrong pronoun and being called to incident scenes and instructed to pat down female suspects. Officer T. alleges that the harassment went on for nearly seven years, and that his station commanders refused to stop it or to discipline the officers involved.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do was to work as hard as I could, responding to urgent calls and protecting the public,” said Officer T. He continued, “But I just couldn’t tolerate the overwhelming amount of bigotry and discrimination. Though I never wanted it to get to this point, I finally had to say enough is enough.”

As a result of the harassment, Officer T. suffered extreme emotional distress that negatively impacted his health and his economic security, and that threatened to impact the safety of the residents he pledged to serve. When his complaints through internal channels did not stop the harassment, Officer T. contacted TLC and Legal Aid for legal assistance.

According to Transgender Law Center Staff Attorney Matt Wood, “We are pleased that we have reached a resolution of Officer T.’s claims that is satisfactory to everyone involved, but we remain concerned that such claims were raised in the first place. No one should have to suffer that kind of harassment on the job just for being who they are.”

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program at the Legal Aid Society– Employment Law Center, added, “Harassment of transgender employees remains a serious problem, even here in the Bay Area. Officer T.’s bravery in coming forward to challenge this harassment benefits all of us.”

Recent reports show that transgender workers face high rates of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Injustice at Every Turn, a 2011 report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, found that transgender people “experience unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.” Nearly 90% of the 6,450 individuals surveyed reported harassment or mistreatment on the job, and 47% reported that they had experienced an adverse job action because of their gender identity or expression.

Transgender employees who believe they have experienced employment discrimination or harassment should seek help from Transgender Law Center (415-865-0176 or transgenderlawcenter.org/help) or Legal Aid Society– Employment Law Center (415-864-8848 or www.las-elc.org)

Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. http://translaw.wpengine.com

The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is committed to protecting the rights and economic self sufficiency of low income workers and their families. LAS-ELC provides free legal services, educational materials, advocacy, technical assistance, and direct legal representation in the areas of racial equality; gender equity; LGBT rights; immigration and national origin; and disability rights. www.las-elc.org