US: Department of Justice sues Oklahoma university for discriminating against trans woman

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Lawsuit filed against Southeastern Oklahoma State University for denying a woman a promotion because she is trans.

It is claimed that the university fired Rachel Tudor in 2011 when she complained she had not been granted tenure – despite a favourable tenure review. This would have guaranteed her employment, and she says she was only denied because she is trans. She had been working as an English professor at the school since 2004 and had transitioned in 2007.

In December, Attorney General Eric Holder clarified that currently employment laws that protected people from discrimination on the basis of gender would now also apply to trans people.

Speaking about the lawsuit, he said in a statement: “By standing beside Dr. Tudor, the Department of Justice sends a clear message that we are committed to eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. And we will continue to work tirelessly, using every legal tool available, to ensure that transgender individuals are guaranteed the rights and protections that all Americans deserve.

“We will not allow unfair biases and unjust prejudices to prevent transgender Americans from reaching their full potential as workers and as citizens.”

A spokesperson for the university said : “Southeastern Oklahoma State University is committed to diversity and equal employment opportunities.  The University is confident in its legal position and its adherence to all applicable employment laws; however, due to the litigation, Southeastern has been advised by the Attorney General’s Office not to discuss any specifics concerning this matter.

“We will allow the legal system to run its course, while we direct our focus and energy on our top priority, that of educating our students.’’

 In the UK earlier this year a trans woman was sacked for using the women’s toilets.