Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Gender dismissal to be contested

BENDING THE RULES:The Gender/Sexuality Rights Association said that by -treating a transvestite IT worker differently Mackay hospital was clearly contravening the law

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Chou Yi-jen, center, accuses Mackay hospital of sexual discrimination during a protest in front of the hospital in Taipei yesterday. Chou says he was fired for wearing women’s clothes in the workplace.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Gender and labor rights activists yesterday demonstrated outside Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei against the sacking of a transvestite employee who preferred to dress in women’s clothing and use the ladies’ room at work, although he is biologically male.

“I am here to get back my right to work,” Chou Yi-jen (周逸人), surrounded by rights activists, told media during the protest.

“I just feel more comfortable dressing in female clothing and going to the ladies’ room. All of this does not interfere with my work performance and I never bother anybody,” he said. “In fact, before I was fired [last month], I received top grades in my work performance evaluation for the past five years I worked at the hospital.”

At first, Chou said he wore male clothes, but that made him so uncomfortable he had to see a psychiatrist, who suggested he should act according to his nature. As a result, Chou decided to dress as a woman. That was about nine months ago.

Since then, Chou had been threatened on several occasions and openly discriminated against by his supervisor.

“My supervisor asked me to get his permission every time I wanted to leave my seat, including when I needed to use the toilet or just to get water from the water fountain,” Chou said.

“This rule only applied to me,” he said.

Before he was fired, Chou worked in the hospital’s information and technology department.

On one occasion, all the employees were given a lunch box during a lunch meeting, Chou said.

“I was the only one who didn’t get a lunch box,” he said.

When Chou asked the colleague who was in charge of ordering lunch why he didn’t get a lunch box, “the colleague said the supervisor told her to pretend that I didn’t exist,” Chou said.

“I’m surprised that there are still employers who think the clothes an employee wears or which restroom he or she goes to is more important than his or her abilities,” said Josephine Ho (何春蕤), chair of National Central University’s Center for Gender/Sexuality Studies.

“The hospital said Chou was fired because of poor work performance, but he always received top grades in his work evaluations over the past five years,” she said.

Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan secretary-general Wang Ping (王蘋) said that by -treating Chou differently, such as asking him to get permission before leaving his desk, the hospital was in violation of the Gender Equality Employment Act (性別平等工作法), which prohibits such acts by employers based on an employee’s gender or gender identity.

Chou said he was preparing to file a lawsuit against the hospital.

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