LGTBQ+ community and economists react to state lawsuit over federal protections for transgender workers

El Paso News

'My identity or what's in my pants is no one else's business..."

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The State of Texas continues its efforts at economic recovery pursuant to the pandemic, but activists and economists are concerned over the detrimental impact caused by permitting discrimination against transgender people in the workplace.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over the issuance of federal guidelines that would protect LGTBQ people in the workplace.

The guidance includes an order allowing employees to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers that correspond with their gender identities. 

“For something like this to come up to discriminate against someone like me, and to not use my preferred pronouns it’s inhumane and it’s disrespectful in the highest degree,” Andi Tiscareno, a transgender woman who sits on the board of the Borderland Rainbow Center and is a UTEP student.

“Whenever you refer to a professor as Mr. or Ms., which has happened before, they will get upset because most of them are PhDs and have the pronoun ‘doctor.’ They get upset because they worked hard to get that degree to earn that title, they have the right to request that you use it. Which for us, for anyone who identifies as any pronoun, we have that same right,” she adds.

But state Republicans see the guidance as an existential threat.

“If the Biden administration thinks they can force states to comply with their political agenda, my office will fight against their radical attempt at social change,” said Paxton in a statement.

Texas has a longstanding history of legislation designed to impact LGTBQ+ community members that economists say fly in the face of economic recovery.

“Businesses need to attract young educated workers to stay in and come to the state. Overwhelmingly, 70 percent of Texans and more than 80 percent Americans support the idea of non-discrimination laws that protect LGTBQ people,” Jessica Shortall, Managing Director of Texas Competes, a coalition of businesses that advocate for a LGTBQ+ inclusive state economy.

In 2017, activists and business leaders urged the state Senate to do away with a proposed bill known as the “bathroom bill” that would prohibit transgender people from using public toilets that correspond to their expressed gender identity. 

The bathroom bill brouhaha led to about $66 million in state losses for state convention businesses, and economists say the bill would have caused $1.4 billion in losses for conventions, sport events, concerts, and more if passed, according to Reuters.

Despite the economic implications, members of the LGTBQ+ community say their bodies — and they –should never be discriminated against, especially in the workplace.

“My identity or what’s in my pants is no one else’s business,” says Tiscareno.

For more information of LGBTQ+ issues, click here; for our complete coverage on the Texas Legislature, click here.

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