Transgender Inequality 2

In the remaining chapters of Just One Of The Guys?, Kristen Schilt  offers her conclusions as she discusses the effects and reception of open transgendered men in the workplace in addition to her concluding chapter.  I will stop here, for a moment, and relate an incomplete anecdote when I was living in Austin, TX working at a telephone call center when a new employee, a woman, declared her intention to soon become a transgendered man.  Unfortunately, Austin is not as open as it’s reputation, and this place of employment had been very gossipy and petty.  While the workplace seemed openly accepting, given that everyone wanted to discuss this with him, it may have not been as open as it seemed, since shortly after his declaration, he left the job due to what for me were unknown reasons.

Schilt cites several examples of workplace transitions, in Texas and elsewhere (Schilt 2011: 110) where varying degrees of acceptance and non-acceptance prevail.  It is interesting to note that while we have equal treatment laws for other so-called minorities, we do not seem to have any for transgenders.  And while I believe that it is difficult to legislate personal attitudes on the unwilling and the quiet and vocally prejudiced, in addition to the fact that we have too many laws to be considered a free and open society, I believe that transitioning at work should be a non-issue.  Because of individual personalities and prejudices reinforced by prevailing personal face-to-face, corporate, and media propaganda, this will not happen in the long term without a steady and consistent propaganda campaign that views all transgenders as “just people that you know, live, or work with”. In other words, we need to view human beings as human beings and accept them as they are, not as we would like to view them.  Period.

In Chapter 6, Schilt discusses the persistence of gender inequality in academic workplace environments following two transformations, one to a transgendered male and one to a transgendered female. In the case of the transgendered female, her work was questioned simply because she is a woman. And so, inequality persists here in the form of a male dominant hierarchy as it does racially and ethnically.  I return to the statement at the closing of the last paragraph.  It may not be an ideal solution but it is one to consider.  And it is a viable solution if there is complicit cooperation across business, government, and community. In the case of the transgendered man, his academic work “magically” acquired more value.  Every situation is different, and there are even situations where the work involved is just as valued (e.g. musical composer Walter Carlos’ transition to Wendy Carlos), but generally, transgenders are not treated as equally as everyone else especially transgendered women who lose a percentage of their wage after their transition.

Schilt mentions a tripartite of legal protections that must be passed in order to challenge current workplace inequality policy.  While that would prevent anyone or any organization from engaging in any overt discrimination or harassment by suppressing the behaviour, it does not transform or suppress thought. While such legislation may transform thought over the long term for next generations like it allegedly has for so-called racial and ethnic minorities, it is only a part of a campaign that would be necessary to achieve equality for all.  Propaganda is a neutral term, though it is viewed otherwise by most, and thus the unwillingness to change attitudes remains the same as it ever has.  And here I include racism, sexism, and prejudice as it is practiced and viewed by the so-called dominant race and gender, white males, because they do not view that very same racism, sexism, and prejudice as it exists but as they individually define it.  And they usually define it as innocuous as possible so as not appear racist, prejudiced, or sexist when they look themselves in the mirror.

Schilt, K. (2011). Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.