Despite laws in place to prevent discrimination, it is an unfortunate reality of many people’s lives. Discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity can all have a major impact on your life, affecting things like career, housing and even medical care.
Fortunately, there are resources available for protecting the rights of the LGBT community; if you have been discriminated against, there are ways to protect yourself.
Know the Law
In New Mexico, both gender identity and sexual orientation are protected statuses under discrimination law. However, New Mexico is a “right to work” state, meaning that employees can be let go at the discretion of their employers. This means that you will need to prove that your discriminatory treatment was related to your sexual orientation or gender identity. Learn more about the law and how to file a complaint here: http://www.dws.state.nm.us/Labor-Relations/Human-Rights/Filing-a-Complaint-of-Discrimination
Special Challenges for Transgender People
A major challenge faced by transgender people is the issue of transitioning while in the workplace. Sexual orientation and HIV status are relatively easy to hide from coworkers and others who do not need to know that information. Gender identity is more difficult, particularly if you have worked there for a long time and coworkers know you by another name or are accustomed to relating to you by the wrong gender.
The workplace is just one area where you may encounter discrimination. Because it is an issue of identity, involving changing names and sometimes records, gender transition can lead to issues with airport security, healthcare, immigration documents, housing and more. Learn more about these issues – and your rights – here: http://www.transequality.org/know-your-rights/
If you’ve faced discrimination, it’s important to seek legal counsel. But an attorney is just part of a support net. UNM Truman offers mental health care and support groups to the local LGBT community; contact us for help in finding a group that can help you through this and other difficult times in your life.