Again, not California, but this case has the power to help reconsider federal discrimination laws.
Essentially a job applicant, while interviewing as a man, was offered a position with the Library of Congress as a Terrorism Research Analyst. Once the applicant disclosed that she was undertaking steps to change gender and would be changing her name and presenting herself as a woman, the job offer was revoked due to her not being a “good fit” for the organization. The applicant, Diane Schroer, after exhausting her administrative remedies, sued under Title VII.
The court denied the agencyâ€™s first motion to dismiss, asking the parties to develop the scientific theories behind sexual orientation and gender dysphoria. Schroerâ€™s expert described â€œsexâ€ as a concept incorporating sex at birth, hormonal sex, internal and external morphological sex, hypothalamic sex and gender identity. The agencyâ€™s expert said â€œsexâ€ means only a personâ€™s chromosomal makeup.
The agency then moved to dismiss again, stating that â€œsexâ€ is not synonymous with gender identity, and so discrimination against transsexuals is not discrimination because of sex. In response, Schroer amended her complaint to add the sex stereotyping theory of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), which allowed a discrimination claim by a woman who was perceived by her employer as too â€œmacho.â€
Schroer alleged that her employment offer was rescinded based on Preeceâ€™s reaction to the photograph of Schroer in womenâ€™s clothingâ€”that she looked like a man in womenâ€™s clothing instead of like a woman. She also claimed that Preece believed that her appearance would undermine her credibility as a terrorism expert.
The court ruled that Schroer could present a sex stereotyping theory to support her Title VII claim. â€œIt is well-established that, as a legal concept, â€˜sexâ€™ as used in Title VII refers to much more than which chromosomes a person has,â€ the court noted, adding that â€œTitle VIIâ€™s reference to â€˜sexâ€™ encompasses both the biological differences between men and women, and gender discrimination, that is, discrimination based on a failure to conform to stereotypical gender norms.â€
While this may not change how Title VII views transsexuals in terms of discrimination, it is, as stated above, a real step in the right direction.