The U.S. District Court ruled that the Library of Congress enaged in illegal employment discrimination on the grounds of sex, prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when it withdrew a job offer as terrorism researcher and adviser to Congress when the applicant informed her supervisor that she was transitioning, under established medical standards and long-term psychological guidance to a female. The court ruled:
In refusing to hire Diane Schroer because her appearance and background did not comport with the decisionmaker’s sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer’s decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.
Legal liability having been established, the trial now goes to the remedial phase to determine what relief should be granted for this violation of law. View a copy of the court's decision (PDF).
Diane Schroer, 49, retired from the Army as a Colonel in 2004 after 25 years of distinguished service (as Colonel David Schroer). As an Airborne-Ranger-qualified Special Forces officer, Schroer completed over 450 parachute jumps, received numerous decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal, and was hand-picked to head up a classified national security operation.
After leaving the military, Schroer confronted feelings she had been dealing with her entire life, and after careful deliberation under the care of a doctor, decided to transition from a man to a woman. While still presenting as a man, Schroer applied for a position with the Library of Congress as the senior terrorism research analyst. Soon thereafter she was offered the job, which she accepted immediately. Prior to starting work, Schroer took her future boss to lunch to explain that she was in the process of transitioning and thought it would be easier for everyone if she simply started work presenting as a female. The future boss said nothing at the lunch to suggest that this would be a problem. But the following day, Schroer received a call from the future boss rescinding the offer, telling her that she wasn't a "good fit" for the Library of Congress.
"The Library of Congress clearly thought Schroer was the most qualified person for the job," said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The notion that our government would reject the best candidate for a job simply because of her gender is not only patently unfair, but also blatantly illegal."
In legal papers filed in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the ACLU charged that the Library of Congress unlawfully refused to hire Schroer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against sex discrimination in the workplace. The lawsuit also claims that the Library's action violated Schroer's constitutional right to be free from discrimination, and violates the Library's own legal mandate to hire based only on merit.
The medal-winner with two master's degrees often briefed such people as Vice President Cheney, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on highly sensitive operations.
"The government was perfectly happy to let Schroer risk life and limb to fight terrorism. Yet now that she's female, Schroer has been told that she's unfit even to research terrorism," said Art Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area (now the ACLU of the Nation's Capital). "No one should have to fear being passed over for a job simply because of his or her gender identity, but this case is especially shameful."
View a copy of the complaint in Schroer v. Billington (Library of Congress) (PDF).
Read a news article, with photos, on this case from The Washington Post.