Workplace Discrimination: Transgender Woman Urges Lawmakers to Pass Reforms

When Vandy Beth Glenn, formerly Glenn Morrison, was summoned to her boss's office Oct. 16, 2007, she was not prepared for the exchange that followed.

"He asked me if what he had heard was true: did I really intend to come to work as a woman? I told him yes, it was true."

Glenn, a transgender woman preparing for a sex-change procedure at the time, told ABCNews.com she expected her boss would "do the right thing."

Instead, Sewell Brumby, legislative counsel for the Georgia General Assembly allegedly told Glenn she was no longer suitable for her job.

Video of Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgendered female who was fired from her job for her gender.
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"Mr. Brumby told me that people would think I was immoral. He told me I would make other people uncomfortable, just by being myself. He told me that my transition was unacceptable. And over and over, he told me it was inappropriate."

Then, Brumby fired Glenn.

"I'm not sure I was really thinking anything in that moment other than utter shock," Glenn told ABCNews.com. "That he was so matter of fact about it blew my mind."

The subsequent federal lawsuit brought by Glenn and Lambda Legal, a gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy group, has drawn national attention and renewed debate over the necessity of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently pending in the House of Representatives. The bill would make discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal across the country.

By all accounts, Glenn, 30, had performed well in her role as a legislative editor, proofing Georgia bills and resolutions for grammar and readability for over two years.

"Everyone agrees her performance was good," said Glenn's attorney Cole Thaler. This firing was "not performance based ... and the other side agrees."

Now, Glenn wants her job back and is awaiting a decision in her case from the Federal District Court in Atlanta.

"I am not seeking any money in my lawsuit," she told House lawmakers Wednesday at a hearing on employment discrimination. "I am asking for just one thing: to be given my job back. I love that job, I can do it well, and I never want another transgender person to experience the discrimination I've endured."

Reached at his Georgia office by phone Thursday, Brumby declined to comment on the case or the events that led to it.

Brumby's lawyer did not return calls from ABCNews.com for comment.

Lawmakers Weigh Expansion of Anti-Discrimination Law

At issue in Glenn's case is whether or not discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unconstitutional. Georgia law does not explicitly prohibit the practice.

Existing federal law prohibits employer discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin and disability -- but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

Still, Glenn's attorney says those protections apply in this case. He argues Glenn faced discrimination based on sex or "sex stereotypes" and based on her diagnosed medical condition -- situations which are prohibited under existing law.

Glenn currently receives treatment for "gender identity disorder" – a classification recognized in the American Psychological Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual" – and is undergoing treatment to transition to living as a woman.

"It's a misconception that gender transition is a one-step process," Thaler told ABCNews.com. "The timing varies from person to person, and Vandy Beth had been in counseling and receiving hormone therapy," prior to her firing.

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