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How Does Corporate America Treat its Transgendered Employees?

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On April 18, Chrissy Polis, 22, was brutally beaten for using a McDonald's restroom.

"They said, 'That's a dude, that's a dude and she's in the female bathroom,'" Polis told The Baltimore Sun. "They spit in my face."

Polis, who is transgendered, suffered a seizure as a result of the attack.


A McDonald's employee who shot a cellphone video of the assault has been fired, with franchise owner Mitchell McPherson saying in a statement, "My first and foremost concern is with the victim. I'm as shocked and disturbed by this assault as anyone would be. The behavior displayed in the video is unfathomable and reprehensible."

Interestingly, the McDonald's Corporation was awarded 85 points out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's "Corporate Equality Index 2011: Rating American Workplaces on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality."

In 2008, when MCD also received a score of 85, an Illinois group "dedicated to exposing the homosexual activist agenda" and "standing for God-ordained sexuality and the natural family as countless homosexual groups do in promoting their harmful agenda" declared the company "too gay":

All-in-all, it appears that, with some glaring exceptions (ExxonMobil, #1 on the Fortune 500, racked up a total of zero points on HRC's latest Index), corporate America actually treats the transgendered workforce fairly well.

HRC points out that "Eighty-nine percent of the Fortune 500 include “sexual orientation” in their non-discrimination policies and 43 percent include “gender identity.” The majority of the Fortune 500 – 57 percent – offer partner benefits and 41 percent offer at least one transgender-inclusive health-related benefit" and 11 of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies achieved perfect scores in this year's report:

HRC writes:

Today, at least 69 major employers — including the City and County of San Francisco and 66 businesses that participated in the HRC Corporate Equality Index 2010 — have implemented transgender-inclusive health insurance that covers mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits and surgical procedures, in addition to short-term leave for medical treatment. This includes large corporations such as American Express, Eastman Kodak, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and Nike.

These employers are leading the way for others to provide insurance by exploring different options and methods of providing coverage. For example, IBM took a thoughtful and unique approach by bringing Dr. Marci Bowers, a leading male-to-female sex reassignment surgeon, into the company's network of in-plan providers. Additionally, HRC is aware of some employers that have provided travel benefits for treatment by experienced professionals otherwise unavailable where the employee lives.

Sportswriter Mike Penner of the Los Angeles Times recounted his experience at the office as he prepared to transition from male-to-female in 2007.

During my 23 years with The Times' sports department, I have held a wide variety of roles and titles. Tennis writer. Angels beat reporter. Olympics writer. Essayist. Sports media critic. NFL columnist. Recent keeper of the Morning Briefing flame.

Today I leave for a few weeks' vacation, and when I return, I will come back in yet another incarnation.

As Christine.

When Penner told his boss, he "leaned back in his chair, looked through his office window to scan the newsroom and mused, "Well, no one can ever say we don't have diversity on this staff."

But when he told his (male) hairdresser, the stylist said, "Does this mean you don't like football anymore, Mike?"

In November, 2009, like 31% of transgendered people living in the US, Mike Penner -- by then living as Christine Daniels -- killed himself.
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