Job Requirement: Have you always had a penis?

El’Jai Devoureau was hired for a part time job by Urban Treatment Associates in Camden, New Jersey.  The treatment referred to in their name is substance abuse and addiction treatment.  El’Jai’s job was to observe clients as they created their samples.  That’s right, his job was to watch men pee in a cup.

Sometime between the day of his training and the next day, someone outed him to his supervisor as having been born female.  Now, El’Jai began hormone treatment suitable for transitioning to a male in 2005 and had sex reassignment surgery in 2009, but that, apparently, was beside the point.

His supervisor asked him if he was a man.  When he said he was, the supervisor asked him if he had ever had any surgeries.  El’Jai responded that it was none of her business…and was promptly fired.  El’Jai wasn’t, in her mind, man enough for the job.

Now I moved here to New Jersey in 2000 because this state was (and probably still is) the only state with a legal ruling from on high that states that a transsexual person is legally the sex to which we have transitioned.

In MT v. JT, 355 A.2d 204 (N.J. App. Div. 1976), a New Jersey appeals court held that “if the anatomical or genital features of a genuine transsexual are made to conform to the person’s gender, psyche or psychological sex, then identity by sex must be governed by the congruence of these standards.”

–thanks to Jillian Weiss for the citation

El’Jai is recognized by the state of New Jersey (drivers license), the federal government (social security) and his birth state of Georgia (birth certificate) as being male.

What more could they want?

Maybe they need legal permission to discriminate so blatantly.  Well, not in New Jersey.  This is one of the few (12) states which, along with the District of Columbia, protect people against discrimination based on gender identity, including in the workplace.

What does affirmation sound like?


The Legislature finds and declares that practices of discrimination against any of its inhabitants, because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, disability or nationality, are matters of concern to the government of the State, and that such discrimination threatens not only the rights and proper privileges of the inhabitants of the State but menaces the institutions and foundation of a free democratic State; provided, however, that nothing in this expression of policy prevents the making of legitimate distinctions between citizens and aliens when required by federal law or otherwise necessary to promote the national interest.

The Legislature further declares its opposition to such practices of discrimination when directed against any person by reason of the race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, marital status, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, disability or nationality of that person or that person’s spouse, partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers, or customers, in order that the economic prosperity and general welfare of the inhabitants of the State may be protected and ensured.

The states which have transgender protections codified in law are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island.  We can add to that the District of Columbia.  On the other hand, efforts are underway in Maine to remove those protections, and the Hawaii senate has passed protections and they need to be reconciled with the House version and then will await the governor’s signature.

But it would be so much better to pass them at the federal level.  Maybe this round, we will actually get a floor vote, but I’m not counting on it.

That brings me to something else I have been wanting to say.

I have a good life.  The difference between my level of happiness with life now and what it was before I transitioned is nearly immeasurable.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the trans community has had the benefits of a good life like I have.  And that’s why I keep pushing to keep up the pressure, in whatever way I can.  

So telling me I am “bitter and negative” sounds to me just like you are telling me to “shut the fuck up”.  And I’m not going to do it, because there will always be other transfolk treated just like El’Jai was treated…until we decide, as a people, that it is not okay to behave as his supervisor did.  Transmen are men.  Transwomen are women.

We need to come together on at least that part of it.  Or have we surrendered our ethics in the interest of oneupsmanship?

It’s not okay to treat us like non-humans, either on the job, or in any public atmosphere…including here.  We are worthwhile people…and not just fodder for unfunny “jokes”.


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    • Robyn on April 16, 2011 at 00:18

    …what one thinks about equal rights for transgender when accusing a transperson of always being negative. ¬†Give us some positive movement towards equality and you’ll see a lot of gratitude…and more positivity.

    By the way, if your state is not on the list of states granting us humanity, what are you doing about it?

    • Edger on April 16, 2011 at 00:39

    who asked El’Jai if he’s always had a penis ever had a brain?

  1. I am so glad you keep up the good fight.

    El’Jai should not only get his job back, but needs to sue the hell out of that bigoted bitch and get her job.

    • TMC on April 16, 2011 at 22:57

    also protects transgender individuals from work place discrimination. I would have to go back and check but every year there was a mandatory 4 hour class that we had to attend about work place discrimination and the “right to know”. NYC goes well beyond Federal and State statutes to protect workers.

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