Cartoon: Special Treatment

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trans-special-treatment2

TRANSCRIPT

Panel one shows a man wearing a suit and sitting behind a desk, talking to a woman who looks unhappy about what he’s saying. The man is a banker.

BANKER: I’m sorry, sir… er, ma’am… but our bank’s name change policy doesn’t recognize court orders.
WOMAN: But…

Panel two.
The same woman is talking on a cell phone, looking annoyed. We can hear a voice coming from the cell phone.

VOICE: We can’t cover your gall bladder surgery because your insurance excludes transgender healthcare.
WOMAN: Seriously?

Panel three.
The same woman is at an open door with a sign that says “building manager,” holding a sheet that says “rentals” in her hand. A man with a beard, presumably the building manager, stands inside the doorway talking to her.

MANAGER: I don’t think you’d be a good fit for our building…

Panel four
A woman in businesswear stands behind the woman, who we now learn is named “Brenda.” Brenda is walking out, angry, carrying a cardboard box of in the classic style of someone who’s just been fired.

BUSINESSWOMAN: I’m sorry, Bob – I mean, “Brenda” – but the other workers just aren’t comfortable working with you.

Panel 5
Brenda stands at a counter, talking to a man behind the counter. There’s a “help wanted” sign visible taped to the counter. The man looks like he’s raised his voice angrily.

BRENDA: But the sign in the window says…
MAN: There’s no job opening here!

Panel 6, the final panel.

A man with curly hair raises his hand in the air, grinning, while Brenda glowers.

MAN: Oooh, “pronoun preferences.” Trans people always want special treatment!

This entry posted in Bigotry & Prejudice, Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

9 Responses to Cartoon: Special Treatment

  1. 1
    Grace Annam says:

    You’re welcome!

    Grace

  2. 2
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    BANKER: I’m sorry, sir… er, ma’am… but our bank’s name change policy doesn’t recognize court orders.

    Do you know this is a common issue? I am sure this happens to trans folks, but many banks are, in my experience, unwilling to make account changes for non-trans folks who just go and change their name. Banks are notorious for having byzantine and useless regulations, internally and externally. So perhaps leading with this one is a mistake; it’s by far the least compelling of the series.

    VOICE: We can’t cover your gall bladder surgery because your insurance excludes transgender healthcare.

    This should be illegal everywhere. And this is your most compelling panel; health care is a compelling subject. If you’re going to have duplicate subjects anyway, like you do for employment, you should replace the name change one with another health care issue. This is already changing federally AFAIK and is likely to change everywhere reasonably soon.

    The same woman is at an open door with a sign that says “building manager,” holding a sheet that says “rentals” in her hand. A man with a beard, presumably the building manager, stands inside the doorway talking to her.

    MANAGER: I don’t think you’d be a good fit for our building…

    Federal law does not currently cover gender identity. However, many states do (like Mass.) and this fortunately appears to be expanding, for larger (more than 4 units) or smaller, non-owner-occupied, space.

    As always be aware of the other side of the coin. The more laws you pass to make things illegal, the more that people are likely to try to find loopholes to make things miserable; some of that misery will land on you or those you love. Housing in particular already has a lot of abuses, like the many non-disabled folks who declare their favorite pet as an ESA to get around rental rules. You don’t want to get sued by a rejected person in a Trump hat, so to speak.

    A woman in businesswear stands behind the woman, who we now learn is named “Brenda.” Brenda is walking out, angry, carrying a cardboard box of in the classic style of someone who’s just been fired.

    BUSINESSWOMAN: I’m sorry, Bob – I mean, “Brenda” – but the other workers just aren’t comfortable working with you.

    This is already illegal in a variety of states, like Mass. It is surprising that Obama didn’t try to add gender identity to the protected classes, at least for 50+ employee businesses. Trump obviously will not. But I expect this will come up in the next Dem presidency.

    Brenda stands at a counter, talking to a man behind the counter. There’s a “help wanted” sign visible taped to the counter. The man looks like he’s raised his voice angrily.

    BRENDA: But the sign in the window says…
    MAN: There’s no job opening here!

    As noted, this is illegal in a few states already. But this looks more like a small business, which is trickier: There is a good argument that small employers should have pretty broad discretion to choose who they hire, even if that choice is based on unsavory beliefs. That is unlikely to change in most states anytime soon, I think. (Not incidentally, this same approach also permits people to run a right-minded business that selectively hires trans folks.)

    But in any case I do a lot of employment work and nobody would normally know that someone was transgender at the “are you hiring” stage. Employers do, however, routinely reject people who “look funny” who are NOT transgender. Appearance and social conformance are huge and are not necessarily linked to trans status.

    So while the underlying reason for rejection may be transgender status it would not actually be known whether someone was trans at the walk-in stage. If you’re going for accuracy, it would be more like “Let me review your application details…. oh, I see. That job was just filled.”

  3. 3
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    A man with curly hair raises his hand in the air, grinning, while Brenda glowers.
    MAN: Oooh, “pronoun preferences.” Trans people always want special treatment!

    In your own cartoon, names are the first and last panel–both usual positions of primacy. And although she is obviously having many major and compelling problems, the only time when the woman is talking to a third party about stuff is in the last panel… and they’re talking about pronoun preferences!

    If you don’t want people to get distracted by pronouns in favor of the much more compelling issues which you reference, maybe don’t talk about pronouns at the same time? Because when you combine a highly controversial thing with other less controversial (and arguably more important) things, the controversy will take precedence.

    (From the anti-regulation side of the fence it’s a pity that pronouns are often the fight du jour, because it has taken a lot of folks who are inclined to be sympathetic to many health care issues and housing issues and such, and has turned us into opponents because we oppose new laws and regulations regarding pronouns. I won’t go further than that, since you probably don’t want to actually discuss the issue in this thread–but as a cartoon I think it’s not the message you want to send.)

  4. 4
    Grace Annam says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    Do you know this is a common issue?

    No. We were simply working from the actual lived experience of trans people.

    I am sure this happens to trans folks, but many banks are, in my experience, unwilling to make account changes for non-trans folks who just go and change their name.

    I don’t doubt your experience, but it doesn’t match mine or the experience of people I have talked to about this. The most common reason for name change, by far, seems to be marriage, and I have never heard of someone who got married being unable to change their name with their bank. Same goes for divorce. And I think that such a refusal would be so outlandish that the story would get told.

    I had to change my name with three banks, and also with several other financial institutions (life insurance, credit cards, and so on). In most cases, they asked me to e-mail them a scan of the court order. In one case, once they verified my identity, they just changed it on the spot, over the phone. Only one bank said, “No, we can’t follow a court order.” So we closed that account and took our business elsewhere, which was the easiest thing. Good thing I live where there are other convenient alternatives, because that’s not always true.

    VOICE: We can’t cover your gall bladder surgery because your insurance excludes transgender healthcare.

    This should be illegal everywhere.

    I agree. But I know trans people who have had medical professionals say, straight up, “We don’t treat people like you,” even when the problem was a laceration or a sprain.

    In this case, it’s a denial of coverage, which is not a denial of treatment. But I know trans people who have had to fight to get medical bills paid by insurance. I’ve had to myself. Sometimes they deny because you’re listed as female but the bill had to do with a male-typical body part. Sometimes it’s the other way around. For trans women with breasts and a prostate, this can be a routine pain in the rear. Sometimes an involved bureaucracy changes the gender marker just to get the bill to go through (this happened to me, once, and when I found out about it, afterward, I had to get them to change it back).

    This is already changing federally AFAIK and is likely to change everywhere reasonably soon.

    I hope that you are right, but in the current circumstances, I think your sunny optimism is unwarranted.

    Federal law does not currently cover gender identity. However, many states do (like Mass.) and this fortunately appears to be expanding, for larger (more than 4 units) or smaller, non-owner-occupied, space.

    That only matters if you have the resources to sue, and a place to live in the meantime. Many trans people don’t have the wherewithal to sue, so whether it’s illegal or not becomes irrelevant as a practical matter.

    As always be aware of the other side of the coin. The more laws you pass to make things illegal, the more that people are likely to try to find loopholes to make things miserable…

    Do you think that the intent of the cartoon is “this should be illegal”? Because I don’t think that’s what Barry intended to illustrate.

    This is already illegal in a variety of states, like Mass.

    See previous.

    But in any case I do a lot of employment work and nobody would normally know that someone was transgender at the “are you hiring” stage. …So while the underlying reason for rejection may be transgender status it would not actually be known whether someone was trans at the walk-in stage.

    …wow. Do I actually have to point out that a lot of trans people can’t pass as cisgender? For some trans people, they are routinely known to be trans at the get-go. And this is obvious to anyone with more than cursory experience with trans people.

    But cartooning isn’t a closed shop. Give it a whirl! I’d be interested to see the result.

    Grace

  5. 5
    Jenn Dolari says:

    Number 1, 3, 4 and 5 have happened to me personally.

    #1 was at the Texas DoT for a driver’s license (it took a manager to pull the clerk off the line, send her to break, and do the name change for me).

    #3 happened at several apartment complexes in, of all places, SEATTLE. Bastion of Liberal America. The complex I ended up at gave me an apartment but continued to misgender me the entire year. Their excuse? I had an “M” on my driver’s license, and that’s what I was legally. By that time, I was happy enough that I had a place to stay that I lived with it.

    #4 has happened more times than some people have had hot dinners. Usually begins with me using the women’s room to pee. Sometimes it never gets that far, and just the accusation that I might would get me fired.

    #5 … I know not to pursue a job when I get “The Look.” As soon as I get The Look, I know I’m not getting the job. I got The Look a lot.

    Thank you for this comic. While it brought back painful memories, they were memories of things that Actually Happened. And they’ve been shared on my social media to let other know it really happens.

  6. 6
    Eytan Zweig says:

    [Made a comment here that I think was off-topic and decided to get rid of it]

    Not much to say about this comment except that I think it’s a real shame anyone has to face any of these difficulties.

  7. 7
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Grace Annam says:
    The most common reason for name change, by far, seems to be marriage, and I have never heard of someone who got married being unable to change their name with their bank. Same goes for divorce.

    That is correct; I am sorry that I was not clear. Trans people have the same marriage rights as anyone else, so I was not counting “marriage v. non-marriage” as a differential.

    I’m talking about plain old name changes, e.g. “I don’t want to be named Dweezil Moonbeam so I got an order saying my name is now John Doe.” Those are often problematic. (I’ve also run into occasional issues following divorce. For example, a lot of clients have been forced to close their account and open new accounts when they get divorced, because the bank won’t let them take a name off.)

    As a tip, it is not uncommon for the “name change policy” and “new account policy” are different, so absent annoyance it might work to close the account and open a new one, at the same bank. That trick has worked for my clients on occasion and the bank reps don’t always propose it on their own.

    [Housing rights] only matters if you have the resources to sue, and a place to live in the meantime. Many trans people don’t have the wherewithal to sue, so whether it’s illegal or not becomes irrelevant as a practical matter.

    Well, then, help to spread the word: All federal anti-discrimination laws which I am aware of have mandatory attorney fee provisions, and I suspect that is also true for state level. In many states this is also true for tenant’s rights generally. I routinely take discrimination or tenant cases on contingency and so does everyone else I know who does that work. In fact, I don’t think I have ever turned away a tenants-rights or discrimination client based on lack of income, only based on a bad case. I usually try to get a filing fee and service fee up front (which is only $300 total) but I routinely waive those for poor people and front them myself.

    A call to a specialist attorney is free; if more people would call attorneys then this problem might start to go away.

  8. 8
    kate says:

    G&W – I think that you’re missing the point in a major way. The point is that basic life functions – like finding jobs, housing, medical care, etc. all take more work for trans people than for cis people. Most of the objections/suggestions you’re raising take a lot more work, time and/or money than just not being discriminated against in the first place. Over time, that would be draining even if one were to “win” every battle.
    That being said, I do appreciate your experience as a lawyer. In my experience (as a cis person, who is white and upper middle class, with family and friends who are lawyers who will write me letters for free) a properly worded letter from a lawyer can quite suddenly make obstacles disappear without going to court. A lot of people don’t know that, and it might be a point worth raising in a less confrontational fashion. I actually don’t know if such letters work for trans folk. I don’t think that it is wise to assume they do.

  9. 9
    Hershele Ostropoler says:

    In my cis opinion, I don’t think it matters whether the name change issues only affect trans people versus affecting anyone who changes their name with no accompanying change in marital status. Nearly everyone who transitions changes their name, so nearly everyone who transitions is affected, while nearly every cis person is not affected (for that matter, a majority of people aren’t even going to have a marriage- or divorce-related name change). It doesn’t have to only harm trans people to be a trans issue.

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