HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - De Sube’s transition started in the mid-1990s. She was working as consultant for an international business, and it wasn’t until several years later when she realized she didn’t want to hide anymore.
“When I did transition completely, I said enough is enough; I need to live my authentic life," the 69-year-old said. “I told them I was transgender and said, ‘Is that a problem?' They said, ‘It indeed is a problem. We do not contract transgender people. Our clients will never understand that.’”
Despite receiving good performance reviews, Sube said the Boston-based company would no longer work with her, telling her they didn’t contract with transgender people.
“It’s hard to describe the sting you feel when you’re discriminated against,” she said. “It just knocks the wind out of you. It’s like someone kicked me in the chest. It still haunts me today, the feeling I had that I was not worthy; I was not good enough. Within a year, I was homeless. I lost everything.”
Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, expanding the Civil Rights Act of 1964, now makes it illegal to fire or discriminate against LGBTQ employees simply because they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The 6-3 vote is historic, and is one of the biggest decisions since 2015 when same-sex marriage was legalized.
“Today’s news knocked me out of my chair,” Sube said. “That was just... it’s beyond words.”
Corey Mohr, who now works for the LGBT Life Center, said the decision is big step forward.
“Before today, it was perfectly legal to fire someone in over half of our states because they are a member of LGTBQ community,” Mohr said. “I think this ruling really acknowledges that nondiscrimination is good for all of us, that it’s a nonpartisan issue.”
He said he would hide the fact that he’s gay from former employers.
“A terrible thing to have to do is go to work every day and suppress this part of yourself that’s a natural, normal part of yourself for fear of being fired,” said Mohr.
As for Sube, she soon landed on her feet. She followed her passion in LGBTQ advocacy. She’s currently the chairperson of the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (TAP VA).
She said Monday’s ruling is not about having recourse but basic human dignity.
“We still don’t have equal rights,” said Sube. “The war isn’t over, but we’ve won another battle."
Mohr agreed. He said advocates still need to push for more federal protections.
“By no means does this give us full equality or equity and full protection,” he said. “There are still ways we can be discriminated against. We can still be discriminated in housing. We can still be discriminated against in public accommodations.”
On April 11, 2020, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) signed legislation making Virginia the first state in the south to protect individuals against housing, employment and credit discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The law goes into effect July 1.