Sunday, March 25, 2007

Chalk One Up For The Ignorant

Via Dr. Weiss, I learned that Steve/Susan Stanton has been officially terminated.

I blogged about this subject back here, although I didn't spend much time examining the Stanton case in particular.

In Tampa Bay Times blog of the proceedings, we find some real gems:

Speakers rip Stanton's management style

Former Mayor Robert E. Jackson told commissoners that Stanton should be fired for questionable decisions he made as city manager. Jackson pointed to James Gesicki, a 30-year public works employee who was fired in 2004. According to Jackson, Gesicki stayed with his elderly mother when Hurricane Charley was heading for Tampa Bay instead of reporting for work. Jackson said that Gesicki was fired without cause by Stanton, despite many years of service.

Former Largo firefighter Jeannine Horton said that Stanton held employees to standards that he did not apply to himself. Horton was fired in 2002 after using derogatory terms to describe African-Americans.

Let's consider this for a moment. Stanton has worked for the City of Largo, Fl. for over a decade and a half. Few managers with careers longer than six months have made no "questionable" decisions, and the accusations of "double standards" are coming not from Stanton's peers, but from people who would see Stanton as among the "Other" of the power structure.

The accusation of 'double standards' is commonly levelled against managers by workers, especially when the workers are not directly aware of the day to day activities of the leadership.

Perhaps the clearest show of the ignorance involved in this situation came out here:

Commissioners hear from detractors

Several speakers in a row endorsed the firing of Stanton.

One Largo resident complained that Stanton had made a "laughingstock" out of the city, adding "Who would want to live in a weirdo town but a bunch of weirdos?"

The Rev. Charlie Martin, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks said Stanton and his attorney had played "the race card" by focusing on Stanton's status as a transgender as opposed to his inferior performance. Martin told commissioners they could fire Stanton without cause and urged them to relieve him of his duties as city manager.

Think about all of this for a minute. On one side of the coin, we have a group of people villifying Stanton because of the revelation of his transgender status. These are the people who worry incessantly "what will the neighbors think?", instead of trying to understand the situation rationally.

As for Rev. Martin's assertion that the focus is on Stanton's transgender status instead of "inferior performance" as a political ploy, it's a complete crock. I don't have access to Stanton's personnel file, but with a decade and half of performance, I doubt it contains anything all that bad, certainly nothing to warrant immediate termination.

Stanton's termination was initiated when he announced plans to transition. Claiming that suddenly it's about "inferior performance" when a person has a track record over a decade in length is dishonest at best.

Claiming that someone who is transgender is suddenly "incompetent" is no different in my view than telling someone they can't do a job because they are a woman. It's a complete crock.

Perhaps, more amusingly, one might muse that women are often held to arbitrarily higher standards than men. In declaring his desire to transition, why did his performance suddenly become "inferior"? Either mediocrity is expected of men, or Stanton's past performance is suddenly being recast in the light of the expectations that would be placed upon him as a woman?

I can only imagine the lawsuits that will come forth from this - especially in the litigious environment of the United States. Cases like this are the reasons that non-discrimination clauses are so important in law. Being different is not a crime, nor should it be used as a cause for terminating someone's career.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More to the point - what does Rev. Charlie Martin have to do with the city's firing policies?

I perused the blog of the proceedings with interest, and would like to sumamrize what I see as untenable decisions below.

1. The presentation started with a transgendered individual sharing some of their past experiences. Then medical experts and others with transgendered experiences. This makes a strong statement that this is not about Steve's job performance, but about his gender. In this hearing would they have let these people speak at all if the issue at hand was his competance at his job?

2. Steve addresses the main fact at the centre of the debate - his gender and the fact it will not impact his ability to do his job.

The first two hours is an outpouring of support of Steve, and discussion of gendered issues.

3. Speakers start to talk against Stanton. One makes claims of "weirdos" and suggests that because Steve is trans that their city is a laughingstock. Not sure how he makes that jump.

4. Reverend Charlie Martin makes the accusation that Steve's attorneys are playing the 'race' card and suggests that the focus should be on Steve's inferior performance. It would seem that nothing to this point has even mentioned the question of performance. Why would a reverend be qualified to give the City advise and "urge them to fire Steve". Mighty Christian of him! (Has any of Steve's actions as City Manager caused him harm?)

5. Public comments. Yes, as a civic employee, Steve is an employee of the public, but why should the public be discussing his job history rather than human resources within the City? Sure, he's made one or two decisions that people have not liked, but the examples that are being brought out to air happened in 2002, 2004... perhaps they missed the fact that it is now 2007, and if there was a problem with a decision made 3 or 5 years ago, it should have been aired at a much earlier time.

It's a modern Witch Hunt!

The motion. The motion was made on the basis that the city felt it could no longer "trust" Stanton. Why? Because he came out of a closet and shared who he really is? (Or because he kept this a secret for years as he worked towards transition?). Next we will be vilifying gays for keeping their sexual identity secret/coming out with it. Trust in this case has nothing to do with it - fearmongering is more like it.

The city made their decision before the 'mock hearing' which did nothing but make a travesty of justice and a true mockery of their city.

For shame! We've returned to the 17th Century and are now burning witches at the stake! I thought we were beyond superstitous hatred of anything that is different, and accepting of the true diversity of human nature.

I guess not.