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As a Transgender Republican Woman, I Need the Equality Act


On Transgender Day of Visibility, Florida woman Erin Dotten shares her story.

As a transgender woman, I'm grateful to see and neighbors following the LGBTQ employment discrimination cases heard before the Supreme Court in October, despite the crisis we are all now living in. These cases -- which will decide whether or not federal law protects LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination -- are incredibly high stakes. The outcome will affect millions of LGBTQ people across the country. Now in the midst of a pandemic, a national health and economic crisis, we need fair and equal protections for all more then ever.

I know, from personal experience, because I was fired from my job after coming out as transgender.

When I came out as transgender to my employers at the college where I worked and told them of my plans to transition from male to female, I hadn't expected the fight that followed. In a day, I was in a meeting with HR, being put on a performance improvement plan. Though I had no previous disciplinary action against me in my four years at the college, where I served as Assistant Director of the Health Sciences Simulation Center, I was fired six months later. I was told that it was due to my transition. They made my life pure hell.

To me, living and working openly as a transgender woman was a necessary decision. I was on hormones and had made multiple attempts at transitioning. After a suicide attempt, I said, "Hey, I'm going to be who I am, and to hell with it." I came out as transgender to my wife three years ago. After coming out, I became an LGBTQ advisor for the college, and as a trained paramedic and EMS Chief, I felt like a leader with purpose in the school community. But the college administration continued to escalate their complaints against me. Ultimately, it resulted in my sudden termination. I lost an $80K a year job. Now I'm back to working as a paramedic.

Like Aimee Stephens, the plaintiff in one of the cases before the Supreme Court, I too am standing up in court to defend myself against employment discrimination. I hope the court that hears my case will concur with lower federal courts that have long held that firing someone for being LGBTQ is unlawful sex discrimination.

I'm also a lifelong conservative Republican, working with fellow conservatives who support freedom and dignity for LGBTQ people. All Americans should be judged on their character and actions, not on who they are or whom they love. My case isn't about politics; it's about basic dignity and respect. I think conservatives could and should speak up and say, "I was brought up Christian, I taught Sunday School, and what I do know is that the God that I pray to looks at me as one of His children." It's supposed to be "love your neighbor as yourself." It's not "love your neighbor as yourself unless they're in the LGBTQ community."

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, lacking even sate protections in 30 sates across the country, we'll all breathe easier when Congress passes The Equality Act, making these protections a lasting piece of federal law. These are the ideals our country was founded on -- ensuring that every American has the right to work hard, make a living, and provide for their family without worrying about being discriminated against simply for who they are, or who they love. In a time of crisis as we are living in now, we all need and deserve to be protected from discrimination.

Erin Dotten lives in Deerfield Beach, Broward County, Fla.

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