I’m Sorry, But We’ll Need to See Your Genitals

Laurie and Marlene say:

(This post is cross-posted to Feministe.)

From the Philadelphia Gay News comes this disgusting story of Kate Lynn Blatt, whose employer requested a photograph of her genitalia as a condition of continued employment.

Blatt was working for Manpower, a temporary employment service. After she was asked to leave a job she was on for Manpower in 2007, they told her that she’d have to provide documentation from her surgeon regarding genital surgery, plus a photograph of her genitalia in order to seek further employment through them.

The company (Sapa) lied about the reason she was terminated, and then would not let her return to work and use the women’s locker room unless she was willing to provide the documentation and the photograph. Manpower concurred.

Blatt filed bias complaints against Sapa and Manpower with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, alleging wrongful discharge based on sex and disability. She said her disability is gender dysphoria.

So now they are qualifying employees by their genitals. We’d love to see what would happen if they asked everyone in the company for these photos. (Especially love to see the CEO’s). Apparently Blatt’s driver’s license isn’t enough for them. They need explicit pictures.

Sapa and Manpower clearly consider Blatt less then fully human. No requirement is too degrading if she wants to work. She’s not a person, so they could ask her for anything they wanted, including a request that would be horrifying if it had been directed at them.

Bethany Perkins, a spokesperson for Manpower Inc., said she couldn’t comment on the specifics of Blatt’s complaints. But she said Manpower is committed to ensuring a safe and non-exploitive work environment.

“The biggest thing to remember is that we’re absolutely committed to the safety and security of our workforce, including the transgender members of our workforce,” Perkins said. “We’re committed to having diversity in our workforce.'”

It would be great if Perkins’ statement was true. What seems to be happening is a combination of serious ignorance and ordinary assumption of cisgender and cissexual privilege. We expect that Manpower is concerned (among other things) with lawsuits from other employees using the locker room. Since they don’t think Blatt matters, they are only concerned with protecting everyone else.

These things happen all the time and they’re invisible. The only thing that isn’t ordinary is that Blatt filed a complaint and a lawsuit and it made the news.

Thanks (again) to Lynn Kendall for the pointer.

11 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, But We’ll Need to See Your Genitals

  1. I agree that asking for a photo of someone’s genitals is completely beyond the pale. However, it seems likely that one or more other women who use the locker room complained, saying that she was a man, psychologically. It’s not hard to see why some women might be uncomfortable sharing a locker room with a trans woman. What if some of them of a culture/ethnicity that would consider her a man and that have strict rules about interacting with men? Maybe it would be better for everyone if they found her a job that doesn’t involve a locker room.

  2. Dee: You’re still saying “everyone” and meaning “everyone besides Blatt.” Maybe it would be better for everyone if they found the person who complained a job that didn’t involve a locker room?

  3. Well, you could be a man ‘psychologically’, whatever that means, regardless of the state of your genitals.

    Heck, you could be a Raging Lesbian Pervert (not that all lesbians are perverts, just that some perverts are lesbians!), very definitely female, and still make some other women uncomfortable because of the perceived sexual interest in your gaze.

    Or you could be a straight but judgemental female who makes inappropriate comments about other people’s attractiveness, and make people uncomfortable that way.

    Sounds like the locker rooms could use some design-tweaking for better privacy for those that want it.

    I know I, as a girl at an all-girl school, *hated* changing in the locker room and made use of bathroom stalls.

  4. If that were the requirement for employment, then shouldn’t they photograph the genitals of everyone else who they employ as well?

  5. I want mine to be pictured on my driver’s license instead of my face. I have bad hair days, but my pubes are always good.

  6. That is straight up bull. If there are women who are uncomfortable changing in front of a transwomen then THEY should be the ones being handled, NOT the transwoman. Its not her fault people have a problem with her physical body. The company should provide some privacy booths for those who are uncomfortable changing in front of WHOEVER. I’m not comfortable changing in front of a group of people, regardless of whether they all share the same gender identity as me.

  7. I can’t help but mention this at seeing Penny’s comment…

    A great many non- and pre-operative trans people report that the perspiration and body changes associated with hormone replacement therapy have an influence on smell. It is not uncommon for a trans woman on hormones to have a genital odor consistent with the odors generally associated with the genitals of cis women, regardless of surgical status. Same for trans men on hormones, even if our culture doesn’t make a stink about what boys’ junk smells like.

    I don’t know if I’ll win an award for TMI or tortured sentences, but I’m getting one of them!

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