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Landmark Report Finds Army Discriminated Against Trans Woman

Landmark Report Finds Army Discriminated Against Trans Woman

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Tamara Lusardi, a trans Department of the Army employee, has found justice after years of misgendering and being barred from using the women's restroom.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, has declared that trans military veteran Tamara Lusardi was discriminated against by the Department of the Army, the Transgender Law Center announced today.

The landmark decision, which is the first of its kind to acknowledge the discrimination trans federal employees can face, was based on Lusardi's account of a supervisor calling her "sir," "he," and "it," using her former name, as well as barring her from using the women's restroom during the four years since she began transitioning to female.

Lusardi, 49, was only allowed to use a gender-neutral single-stall restroom to avoid making other employees feel "uncomfortable," Lusardi said in an interview with the Washington Post. She was reprimanded by a supervisor on the occasions that she used the general women's restroom because the single-stall unit was out of order. She also contends that she was told to stop speaking about her transition with coworkers.

A disabled veteran, Lusardi currently works as a civilian software quality assurance specialist in the Alabama-based U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. She told TLC that she was "incredibly grateful" that the OSC found her restricted access to the women's restroom was an "intru[sion] on [her] privacy, was inappropriate, and subjected [her] to significant discomfort and humiliation," noting that the mistreatment served as a constant reminder that she was "deprived of equal status, respect, and dignity in the workplace."

In order to declare this treatment unlawful, the OSC concluded it was "sufficiently frequent, pervasive, and humiliating" to the point of "constitut[ing] discriminatory harassment," according to TLC's explanation of the landmark decision. These parameters are set forth by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that define what constitutes "sex discrimination." For decades, Title VII complaints from transgender plaintiffs were dismissed, until recent decisions in Glenn v. Brumby (2011) and Macy v. Holder (2012), which unequivocally found that anti-trans bias equates to unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex.

The OSC also drew on the Civil Service Reform Act, which prohibits discrimination against federal employees for conduct unrelated to their work performance, noted the Transgender Law Center.

"As a disabled veteran, I take great pride in my role protecting our soldiers from harm," a happy Lusardi said in a statement. "Like anyone else, I just want the freedom to be myself at work. I hope my case and this decision will help other transgender people feel safe enough to bring their full authentic selves to work."

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