An employment arbitration tribunal in China yesterday heard the country’s first transgender workplace discrimination case.
The court, in the south-western city of Guiyang, listened to how an employee, referred to as Mr C, said he was fired from his job for being transgender.
The 28-year-old, who spoke to the Guardian and gave his name as Chen, is a local LGBT activist.
He said that he was dismissed last April from a healthcare job in the city – the capital of Guizhou province – after turning up wearing men’s clothing. He had been employed for a week and was given no prior warning of his firing. He is seeking an apology and compensation.
‘I wanted to defend my own rights and to receive the respect that I deserve,’ he said. ‘I also want to use this case to teach LGBT people how to defend our own rights and give ourselves a voice … What we need is a harmonious and mutually respectful society.’
Last month, a spokesperson for Chen’s former employer, Ciming Health Checkup Centre, told Guiyang Evening News that Chen’s dismissal was partly down to his attire.
‘Chen’s appearance really didn’t fit our standards.’
Chen submitted a claim for 2,000 yuan in compensation (about $309/€272) – roughly equivalent to five weeks pay. He told the Guardian the case was not so much about money, but to ‘enlighten’ the company and others like it to respect the diversity of their employees.
Taking to social media site Seibo after the hearing, Chen said that the clinic’s presented evidence of wrongdoing was that he had not disclosed his gender on his application form – but he believed this irrelevant to the case at hand.
‘What we sued over is the reason I was fired, not the reason I was hired, so the [evidence] is irrelevant.
‘The defendant said I was incapable of doing my job well, but they don’t have evidence. The defendant said I stayed away from work without a good reason, but no evidence. They said I only worked four days a week, but no evidence. We will definitely win the case!’
A ruling is expected later this month.
There are no employment discrimination protections for LGBT people in China, and although same-sex sexual activity is legal, widespread discrimination against LGBT people remains.
However, like Chen, an increasing number of LGBT activists are turning to courts to assert their rights. This Wednesday, a Chinese gay couple will appear in a court in Hunan to challenge the local government’s ban on same-sex marriage.
H/T: The Guardian