Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar
Dear Annie: I am a 40-year-old single woman who happens to have broad shoulders. In my 30s, people occasionally joked that I looked like a guy, and over the years, it's gotten progressively worse. Although I do my best to be feminine (hair, makeup, nails, dresses, etc.), it doesn't help because folks sometimes think I'm a drag queen.
Annie, it's awful. I've experienced harassment at work. Although I reported it, my former boss fired me out of fear of being sued. When it happened at my next job, I didn't say anything, but I can't stand it any longer. One of my co-workers told everyone I had a "secret gay life." Human Resources is aware of the harassment, and everyone had to sit through classes on discrimination. Still, one of my managers tried to override the password on my voice mail after the latest round of rumors in order to find out what I was hiding. I've even shown co-workers my birth certificate and pictures of me growing up, but it hasn't made any difference.
I am a Christian woman and a virgin. This is incredibly offensive to me. I rarely go out anymore. I'm tired of the stares, the offensive remarks and the unfortunate things people think about those living as transvestites -- even though I am not. My parents can't believe people could be so cruel and assume it's all in my head. Believe me, I wish it were.
I've gone to counseling to get a handle on the stress. How do other masculine-looking women cope with the stares, the smirks, the giggles and the offensive comments? -- Never (Ever) a Guy
Dear Never a Guy: The harassment you are getting at work may be actionable under the law, so please discuss it with an attorney. No one should be permitted to bully or treat you so shabbily (or fire you!) because of a perceived impression of your sexual orientation. As for the rest, try to be less defensive. You cannot control what others think, but you can learn acceptance and develop confidence in your own body -- whatever it looks like. Since you are seeing a counselor, ask to work on this.
The Gender Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) protects EVERYONE!
[Inclusive] Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 - Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived [Emphasis added] sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims.
The inclusive ENDA will protect anyone who people see as looking different from what might be considered normal, from a woman like “Never A Man” or a man of slight statue or a man who might like to wear his hair long. Nowhere in the bill is there any wording that says it covers only transgender individuals.