Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I get these CNN alerts in my email whenever a story is written containing the keyword 'transgender' or 'transsexual'. I don't know why I continue to read them because each new story aggravates me more than the last. I should know better because it seems the state of news these days is that they don't often report happy stories, but for some reason I am always surprised when every transgender article involves transgender people being discriminated against.

I feel bad complaining because in the larger picture of discrimination, transgender men and women barely show up. Until we transition we live a relatively normal life and blend in with all the other relatively normal people. What people may not realize is that even during this time we still feel discrimination because we hear what people say, and we see how people react to transsexuals. Each instance of discrimination accumulates within us to the point where by the time we decide to act on our biology, we are prepared to lose everything.

When it was my time to tell people that I was in fact a transsexual woman I was scared. I was scared that no matter how strong my relationships with friends and family were, that they were all in jeopardy. I was prepared to lose my job and my place to live, and even the idea of having a future.

I have made it through that time of life, and luckily my transition was pretty smooth. I lost a couple people, but now I associate with great people who not only seem to forget I am a transgender woman, but somehow make me forget as well. The respect I get from them makes me realize how life should be for all transsexual people. Unfortunately there are people who disagree with me. There are people who believe we shouldn't be offered respect, and in fact we shouldn't even be associated with, and who consistently think we should definitely be fired from our jobs.

Fired transgender professor, school settle dispute
POSTED: 12:00 p.m. EDT, March 14, 2007

LANSING, Michigan (AP) -- A transgender professor who was fired by a Christian school has reached a settlement in her sex discrimination complaint.

Julie Nemecek and Spring Arbor University agreed to the settlement Monday after mediation talks with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Terms of the deal were not released, but Nemecek said Tuesday that she will no longer be employed by the school outside Jackson, about 75 miles west of Detroit.

"I'm looking for other employment," said Nemecek, who recently changed her name from John. "I may do some consulting work. I'm definitely going to do advocacy for transgender issues."

Spring Arbor said the discrimination charge has been withdrawn.

The evangelical university, affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, fired the 55-year-old associate professor last month after a 15-month dispute. It previously had decided not to renew Nemecek's contract after the spring semester, citing conduct "inconsistent with the Christian faith."

Nemecek is an ordained Baptist minister who began living as a woman in 2004. Nemecek is legally a male and is getting hormone therapy but doesn't plan to have a sex-change operation, partly to continue a marriage of 35 years.

Nemecek's case became known around the same time as that of Steve Stanton, who is disputing his dismissal as city manager of Largo, Florida, after announcing he would undergo a sex change operation.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. * Does pasting into a blog count as redistributing? -- Sarah

I am impressed with people who are religious. I like the idea of faith with a capital F. I admire people who hold such a strong belief that they literally devote themelves to their various religions. Even though I respect an individual's religious beliefs, I don't have much respect for organized religion. Maybe it is because I don't actually attend church, or maybe it is because I am a reader of those CNN alerts, but I just get the impression that the church somehow gives people a license to judge others and tell them what they can and cannot do. I think that organized religions can interpret the bible in whatever way suits them, and unfortunately interpretations of the bible often seem to marginalize some group of people. I wish I understood why organized religion often loses the ideals that individual religious people have.

I am not religious at all. My personal belief is that a Higher Power is a hold-over from times when we lacked sufficient knowledge to explain how the world works. I haven't been to church in twenty years, and I don't know anything about the rules or procedures or codes of conduct. It wouldn't surprise me if any of what I just said, or any of my actions in life were considered "inconsistent with the Christian faith."

Julie Nemecek though... in the article above we get a glimpse of her life. She is not only a professor in an evangelical Christian university, but she is an ordained minister. Someone like her isn't just your average church-goer, she obviously put some a lot of time into her religion. Unfortunately as soon as she entered the scariest time of her life, her religion wasn't willing to give any anything back.

For the church to accept so many years of support from her and then not reciprocate is very disappointing behaviour. If I am to believe what my Christian friends tell me, then it is her employers who are not being consistent with the Christian faith. If you believe history though, then discrimination and religion have always been consistent with each other. Maybe a little inconsistency could be a good thing.

1 comment:

DC Nemesis said...

You are in good company in not being a fan of organized religion. Jesus was often firmly against the organized religion of his time. Anyway, if you are looking for more background on Julie's story, you can check out my blog at