Currently in the United States, it is legal in over 29 states to fire someone due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. Mia Macy, a Veteran and former police officer, experienced this harsh reality after applying for a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in California. After being hired, she notified the bureau of her decision to transition. Days after doing so, she was notified that the position she was hired for no longer existed. With the help of the Transgender Law Center, Macy later discovered that the bureau had quietly given the position to someone else.
In a new series created by the Center for American Progress, Macy's story is featured as part of an effort to raise awareness about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA is a federal bill that, if passed, will make it unlawful to discriminate against someone who identifies as transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Although some states have protective laws in place to eliminate and reduce discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, without similar federal laws, many Americans are still at risk for being fired from their jobs and denied housing just because of who they are. Because Macy was seeking a federal job, the decision to not hire her was legal. However, in the case of Macy vs. Holder, it was decided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sex, Macy was unlawfully denied employment. ENDA would not eliminate such isolated cases of discrimination, but it would make it possible to hold employers accountable for anti-LGBT bias in the workplace and in hiring practices.
It is estimated that transgender people make up approximately 0.3% of the total US population, yet they face extremely high rates of unemployment and homelessess. Recent studies show that the transgender unemployment rate is double the American average. The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) has approved ENDA with bipartisan support, and the bill can now move to the Senate floor. With the momentum behind marriage equality and the striking down of the so-called "Defense of Marriage" Act (DOMA), is important that stories like Mia Macy's continue to be told by the media to call attention to ENDA and thee need for employment protection .