18 June 2012

Kylar Broadus Testifies Before The Senate

An activist once told me, "It's all about visibility."

In this country, it's hard to beat testifying before the Senate to make one's cause, as well as one's self, visible.

That is what Kylar Broadus did last week.  That made him--a lawyer and professor from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO-- the transgender to do so. 

Appropriately enough, he testified before Senate Health and Labor Committee hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act  (ENDA).

Although he is a lawyer and professor, he is not in an easy financial situation.  In the 1990's, he transitioned while he was working for an insurance company. For that, he was harrassed and fired.  "While my supervisors could tolerate a somewhat masculine-appearing black woman," Broadus recalled, "they were not prepared to deal with my transition to being a black man." As there were no laws on the books to protect transgender people in the workplace, he found that he had no legal recourse.

As you might imagine, a long stretch of unemployment ensued, from which Broadus says he has not fully recovered financially.

What I hope the Senators realize, as a result of hearing Broadus' testimony, is that if someone with his education and work experience can have such a difficult time, things are that much worse for someone who's poor or less educated, and probably even worse for a trans teenager who was kicked out of his or her home after "coming out."   I would love for the Senators to hear testimony from them, as well as more from Broadus and transgender people in situations like his.  

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