China hears first transgender employment discrimination case

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BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese arbitration panel held a hearing Monday in what is believed to be the country’s first transgender employment discrimination case, according to the lawyer in the case.

A ruling by the Yunyan district labor dispute board in the southern city of Guiyang would be issued later in the case of his client, who has identified himself only as Mr. C, Huang Sha told The Associated Press by telephone.

C, 28, sued for compensation and an apology after being fired from his job at a medical services company because, although born a woman, he dressed like a man.

The case comes amid growing awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in China, where society and the government have generally frowned on non-traditional expressions of gender and sexuality.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China, the country’s LGBT movement is still in its infancy and it is rare for same-sex couples to live openly as such.

On Wednesday, a court in the central city of Changsha is scheduled to hold a hearing in the country’s first same-sex marriage case. The couple are suing the local government for refusing to register their marriage despite a lack of any stipulation that they must be of the opposite gender.

China doesn’t legally recognize same-sex marriage and officials with the central government have said they do not see the law changing soon.

Members of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, have drafted anti-employment discrimination legislation that would include references to gender identity, but the draft has so far garnered support from just 36 of the almost 3,000 congress delegates, according to media reports.

In an interview with the newspaper Guizhou Metropolitan, C. said he had not listed his gender when applying for a sales job with the medical services company in April 2015. “Moreover, they knew about my special gender situation,” he said.

However, after only a week, C said he was told he was being fired because his expression of gender “did not conform to traditional notions.”

“My sales job performance was in no way negatively affected by appearance. To fire me for this reason is to discriminate against me,” C said.

C and Huang are asking for a week’s salary plus another month in compensation.

Company officials have declined to speak with the media about the case, citing the ongoing arbitration process.

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