With the slow, state-by-state adoption of laws that will protect against gender-related discrimination, we’re reminded of the slow, wayward path of reform in years past. Meanwhile, Legislative Editor Vandy Beth Glenn is kicking Georgia’s ass. The awesome thing is, she’s kicking it with the spiked boot of American justice: the Constitution. In 2007, after announcing to her employers at the Georgia General Assembly that she, a previously male-presenting employee, would begin her male-to-female transition process, Glenn was fired due to her boss’s discomfort with the idea. Fortunately (for Glenn, though who knows for how long), state rights are one thing, and the constitution is entirely another. Glenn, inspired by a similar case that went before the Supreme Court in 1989, went before a three-judge panel of Georgia’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where on December 6, the ruling came out in her favor.
Which leaves us wondering: At one point does the Republican tendency to cling to state rights, even at the contradiction of national law, become absurd, counter-productive, or even dangerous? Why is the country more “divided” than in times of old? One assumes this ancient double standard is to blame. Does civil action always need to be immediate, showy, and potentially violent in order to get us back to thinking in terms of constitutional rights? When the law states—in fact, has always stated, in so many words—that human rights in this country are not subject to the conformity of personal expression, how long does it take, and how many state legislatures do we have to slog through, before we get back to being aware of it?