In a landmark case that is said be the first discrimination case of it’s type, a Chinese transgender man has won a wrongful dismissal case.
The court case came from the fact that the man in question, identified only as Chen, was fired after a week on the job at a medical clinic in south-West China. The court ruled that Chen was fired illegally.
However, the judge stopped short of forcing the former employer to apologise and also didn’t say that Chen’s dismissal was due to his gender identity. Chen was awarded 2,000 yuan (£234), a month’s wages, as a result of the ruling.
While the judge stopped short of saying that Chen’s dismissal was due to him being transgender, comments from the manager of the Ciming Health Checkup Centre did suggest that was the case.
The manager said at the time: “Chen’s appearance really didn’t fit our standards.”
Chen spoke to the Guardian about his case, saying: “I have always said this case was never about the money. This lawsuit was about three things: dignity, raising awareness of transgender and other sexual minorities, and pushing for anti-discrimination legislation.”
While Chen is pleased with the outcome of the case, it seems he intends to keep pushing legal proceedings so he can get a public apology from the company. He also expressed hopes that his case would drive anti-discrimination legislation to help protect people like him.
“A lot of people face workplace discrimination but they don’t dare step forward,” Chen said. “I felt like it was my responsibility to speak up.”
Also at the time of starting his case, he said: “I wanted to defend my own rights and to receive the respect that I deserve. I also want to use this case to teach LGBT people how to defend our own rights and give ourselves a voice … What we need is a harmonious and mutually respectful society.”
But Wang Yongmei, one of Chen’s lawyers, does not seem particularly optimistic about the chances of Chen’s case having any impact on discrimination law. China is a deeply conservative country when it comes to matters of sexuality and gender, being gay was still illegal not all that long ago as it was decriminalised in 1997.
Wang said: “I’m not very optimistic that the employment situation of transgender people will change as a result of this case.We still don’t have anti-discrimination legislation and I fear the lesson companies will learn from this case is to change direct intolerance into indirect prejudice.”
Let’s hope that Wang’s predictions are wrong, but given how slow China has been to change and how they have shown anti-LGBT leanings in 2016, he will probably end up being correct.