A transgender man has won a somewhat perplexing limited victory in China’s first-ever court case involving transgender discrimination at the workplace.
The plaintiff, 28-year-old Mr. C, who was born a woman but identifies as a man, has claimed that he was fired last year after only working seven days at his new job at health inspection firm Ciming Checkup in Guizhou province because of the fact that he dressed in men’s clothing for work.
Mr. C alleges that staff at Ciming were satisfied with his work performance as a sales consultant; however, he was told by a human resources manager that he looked “like a lesbian” and therefore ran the risk of harming the company’s reputation.
On December 30th, a Guizhou court ruled that Mr. C had been illegally dismissed from his job, but did not find enough evidence to rule that he had been fired due to discrimination against transgender people. Therefore, the court stopped short of forcing Ciming to apologize to Chen for his dismissal.
Mr. C told the AFP news agency that he was “quite happy” with the verdict, which reversed the decision of a local labor dispute board back in May that had totally rejected his claim of workplace discrimination. The labor tribunal accepted Ciming’s claim that Mr. C was simply fired due to poor work performance after only a week on the job, making his dismissal legal. Though the board did rule that Ciming must pay Mr. C his unpaid pages, amounting to 600 yuan.
The December court ruling granted Mr. C an additional month’s wages, totaling 2,000 yuan.
“I have always said this case was never about the money,” Mr. C told the Guardian. “This lawsuit was about three things: dignity, raising awareness of transgender and other sexual minorities, and pushing for anti-discrimination legislation.”
While he may not have won a complete victory in court, his case has managed to bring wider attention to transgender issues in China as LGBT activists continue to fight for more protection under the law. Chinese labor law contains an anti-discrimination clause that covers ethnicity, religion and sex — but not gender or sexual identity.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat