Pam`s House Blend Interview Of Veronica Doe

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Pam`s House Blend Interview Of Veronica Doe
 Pam's House Blend Interview With Air Marshal "Veronica Doe"
Interviewed by Autumn Sandeen
January 25, 2010
During the week of January 18th, 2010, Doe v. Homeland Security was filed with the federal courts in
Washington DC. This lawsuit is for a trans woman currently identified in court documents as "Veronica Doe."
"Veronica" answered six questions about her lawsuit for Pam's House Blend, and the questions and her
answers are below.
1. What is the background of your case? Can you describe the situation you found yourself in
and the timeline of when did the trouble start? Has the trouble continued to the present?
In April. 2003, I began my long transition after I was placed on Hormone Replacement
Therapy (HRT) by my doctor. Just prior my field office had been putting out information
advising Federal Air Marshals (FAMS) that all medication needed to be reported to FAM
Medical for evaluation and cleared before FAMS would be allowed to continue flying. As a
result I forwarded a memorandum to FAM medical outlining the medications I was taking but
never received a reply. In August of 2004, my field office circulated instructions that required
staff to provide the medication they were taking to collateral duty FAMS/EMTS who would
then forward the information to FAM Medical for evaluation and clearance. This turn of events
concerned me greatly because despite me being a federal law enforcement office since 1988,
I was still on probation as a government exempt employee. So, I resent my memorandum
back to FAM Medical but this time I included the diagnosis for GID. When in 24 hours I was
contacted by FAM Medical and asked to provide further information so the flight doctor could
evaluate my medication and treatment. After providing the required medical information I
opened a dialogue with Medical and the Human Resources Department providing in site and
information on GID and transition in the work place. I felt encouraged by the response and I
was advised to wait in notifying management at my field office regarding my transition until
after my probation period had expired in April 2004. I kept Medical and HR in the loop of my
progress and tentative dates for coming out. During that time FAM Medical found me fit for
duty and I was cleared to continue mission status.
In April 2004, after extensive planning with my spouse and doctors, I prepared a
memorandum outlining my transition. I requested a meeting with my immediate supervisor,
provided the memorandums and answered his questions. I left his office feeling like a weight
had been lifted off of me but I was a bit apprehensive as to their reaction. I notified Medical
and HR and was told that my field office management had already been attempting to get a
hold of them.
My first hint that things might be difficult was a couple of days later when I was contact by the
Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) who requested that I report to the office to meet
with him and the Special Agent in Charge (SAC). The meeting would be described as cordial
at best and the SAC seemed to be hung up on two issues. How would I conduct searches of
suspects if needed and what restroom would be using during and after my transition.
I attempted to establish a dialogue, providing him with background information and the usual
alternatives for the restroom issue. I even offered to use a unisex restroom that was already
planned to be constructed in our office during my initial transition. He then address concerns
about my use of the restroom once the office had been notified before I began presenting full
time I advised him that this should not be an issue and was completely solvable as was the
issue regarding conducting searches on suspects. Before I left his office the SAC gave me the
number to the Programs Manager over FAM Medical and advised me she would be expecting
my call.
After leave the meeting I contacted the Program Manager and she asked if I would provide
some further information to her. She also emphasized to me that this was not a Fitness for
Duty (FFD). She also explained that she had been through this before at another Federal
Agency and not to be concerned.
A few days later, there was an off duty event at a Marlins Baseball game. At the time, only a
few management officials and one FAM were aware of my pending transition. I attended the
ball game with my wife, daughter and one of her friends. I wore male attire and wore two small
unisex earrings. Shortly after arriving I ran into a couple coworkers and my immediate
supervisor. One of my coworkers who was not aware of my pending transition made a
comment about how cute I looked and asked if I had robbed my wife’s jewelry box. I
immediately observed my supervisor rolling his eyes and appeared agitated. The following
week I was talking to him about the meeting I had the week prior with the SAC and ASAC. At
that point he advised me he had made the SAC aware of what would later be referred to as
the “Earring Incident’. I tried to down play it but I was starting to get the feeling that things
were starting to go wrong. A few days later my feelings were confirmed when I received a
unexpected phone call while off duty from Program Manager at FAM Medical. She questioned
me about the incident at the Marlins game and told me she had been advised by management
officials at the MIAFO that I was not being a ‘Team Player’ and was wearing long dangly
earrings drawing unnecessary attention to myself. To further complicate things the agency
issued me a groundless Fitness for Duty (FFD) which if I did not comply would result in
agency disciplinary action including dismissal. She also advised me that this issue had made it
up to the director and the incident was reported from my field office by my Assistant to the
Special Agent in Charge (ATSAC) and ASAC. I then requested a safe harbor from an ATSAC
in my office that was in a same sex relationship hoping to stop this harassment before it got
out of hand but my request was denied and I was advised I had to go back to my SAC.
I contacted all of my doctors who at this point we’re as confused as I was to why the agency
was putting me thought a FFD after we had all ready provided them with the information and
been cleared. Understanding that I had little options, I again submitted the required medical
and psychological information. Shortly afterwards the flight doctor again cleared me to
continue on mission status. However there was a caveat. In their response the agency
advised that they were going to monitor me for approximately two years past my Gender
Reassignment Surgery (GRS) before final clearance could be issued. That meant that since
my surgery was scheduled tentatively for late 2005, I was looking at over 3 years that they
were going to continue monitoring me. A practice based on my experience as a prior
supervisor in the Federal Government was extremely unusual. I would later be told by a staff
member in headquarters that FAM Medical was not behind my FFD but was in fact being
controlled from FAM Headquarters.
After the earring incident, I was trying to work with the agency trying to come up with a
solution to easing the tension and management’s fears about the restroom/showers based
upon misconceptions about transgender people. The SAC indicated he wanted to bring all the
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employees in during a one week period and advise them about the coming changes. I was a
bit uneasy about this plan and indicated that it would not work properly if staff were not
educated on the issues. The SAC rejected my attempt to educate staff stating he was not
going to ram this down anyone’s throat. He also advised me that I was going to have to walk a
thin line and not come running to them unless it was something that was going to go on paper.
He made it sound as if I was the problem and that his only concern was the other employees. I
was then asked to prepare a memorandum about what I was comfortable with being
discussed. In the memorandum I explained about GID and requested that any discussions
regarding GID or my medical issues should be done in generalities and that any information
on medical treatments, procedures, medications or surgical dates should not be discussed. In
addition I also advised them that I was very approachable and encouraged staff to ask
questions but any information about my family and personal life should not be discussed.
Management in turned provided me with a wavier form acknowledging my requests. A date
nd
was then set for the week of August 2 2005. Needless to say I was really concerned at this
point and I had the feeling things were going to go horribly wrong.
As my office coming out date quickly approached other issues began to surface which did not
help my anxiety. Management continued to show a great concern for my use of the
restroom/showers in the office and little concern for mine or my family’s welfare. So much so,
that my ATSAC at the time put out a e-mail all FAMS to take mandatory showers. Since staff
was not aware of my pending transition all I could do was sit back watch as things continued
to spinning out of control. In my opinion this office policy came about after I voiced safety
concerns about using the male restroom/shower. I compromised and agreed to temporarily
use the handicap shower in the male restroom if no one was in the restroom. This turned out
to be virtually impossible. It was an extremely scary time for me, management was not being
very supportive and now there was the risk of being discovered before the official notification
to the office. I think it was about this time when I discovered that the office was having an
Employee Assistant Program (EAP) counselor come in and talk with staff members that may
have having difficulty with the changes. I was not opposed or upset that they wanted to bring
in EAP to help staff. But I had concerns that this person did not have the background or
experience in dealing with the transgender community and I was curious why this person did
not want to meet me in advance since they were here about my transition. When I heard this
information I asked my ATSAC about it. He had me report to the office and escorted me into
the SAC’S office. After questioning the SAC about the EAP counselor, the SAC made it quite
clear that management was supporting the other staff and I was alone on my transition. In fact
I was told they were doing what they felt they were legally obligated to do and were not
supportive of my transition. As I left the office that day, I know longer felt that I was in control
of what was about to happen. So I went home told my wife and daughter what had transpired,
and waited for the bomb to drop.
On Monday August 2, 2005, I was on vacation in Tampa with my wife and daughter. I woke up
that morning not feeling very confident about my future in law enforcement. I had a lot to do
this week, including appearing in court for my name change. As we traveled back to Miami I
was talking to my wife when the first phone calls started to come in. Over the next several
days, the shock waves continued as phone calls and emails continued to come in. Several
coworkers offered support and many had concerns and questions. It didn’t take long for me to
figure out that things had gone horribly wrong. Management had cancelled all leave for the
week and advised staff that a mandatory meeting was taking place. Management began their
campaign of isolation identifying me by photograph to staff. They discussed my personal and
private medical information to staff including my FFD examination. Staff was encouraged to
monitor me and report back to management immediately if they observed any issues with me
having problems. Management even went so far as to tell staff that I as being selfish to my
daughter for transitioning. This would later be a common theme expressed by many staff and
is still an issue with many today. I also learned that management told staff that this would
more than likely end up in a lawsuit. As I heard more I became overwhelmed by the lack of
sensitivity and tolerance displayed by staff. It was clear to me and my family that
management’s unprofessional conduct most certainly crossed the line. I would like to point out
in law enforcement to tell other LEOS that you had gone through a FFD especially one
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associated with psychological FFD will label you as being mental and no one will want to work
with you. To this day I have concern about how much support I would receive from
management if I were involved in a serious incident. Staff also advised me that the counselor
from EAP had no real knowledge about transgender people and staff left the meetings feeling
that management had more of a problem than some staff. On Thursday August 5, 2004, I
went to court and legally changed my name from Ronald Lee to Veronica Lynn. After exiting
the court house I received a phone call on my Government Phone from my former chief when
I was assigned to the Sacramento Intelligence Unit (SIU) who had been told about my
transition from an employee with my agency. Over the next several months I found out that the
fact that I was transitioning had been shared with former colleagues and the word was
spreading with other Federal Law Enforcement agencies all over my former agency the
Federal Bureau of Prisons. After a while I learned that many of my former colleagues and
replaced my accomplishments with cruel jokes.
While aware that things were getting worse. I contacted the HR department over Labor
Management Relations (LMR). These were the same HR staff that I had advised the prior year
of my pending transition. I advised them of the discrimination and problems that were
occurring and asked for help in putting a stop to it. While they looked into everything, I
concentrated my approaching Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) scheduled in November and
the beginning of my presentation from Ron to Veronica. Prior to leaving for surgery I got
approval for leave and was given permission by the Fitness Coordinator to take my Quarterly
Fitness Assessment (QFA) when I return. This was not unusual since many FAMS had
missed QFA”S before. I fully intended to complete my assessment as soon as I returned. After
my surgery while recovering, I was contacted and advised two things. One my ATSAC
continued to use disparaging comments about me to fellow team members and two the unisex
restroom was not going to be finished upon my return to work in January 2005. I was further
advised that approximately a week earlier, the male restroom/shower had broken down and
the men were allowed to use the female facilities for approximately two hours and only a sign
was posted outside the door.
A few days later I was contacted by my ATSAC and asked to come in and have a picture
taken for my new agency credentials. I also had a female FAM who offered to accompany me
to the office for support which appreciated so much. Even though I was scared to death, I
walked in with my head held high excited I was finally living my life that so many of us hope to
free of both guilt and the shame. After taking my new picture I was told that the ASAC was
looking for me. Shortly afterwards he appeared and asked me to follow him to the SACS
office. Upon entering his office, the SAC appeared agitated. After it was establishing that my
new credential photo had been taken and the new credentials would be returned in a week.
The SAC went into my failure to take the QFA before leaving for FFS. I explained that I have
spoken to the fitness coordinator and he had indicated that he was made aware I was leaving
for medical reasons and gave me permission to take the test upon my full return to duty in
January. The SAC was upset and told me I did not have permission that the end of the quarter
st
was approaching on Dec ember 31 and if I did not take it by then I was out of compliance. I
explained that I was unaware of this fact and that other FAMS had missed this test in the past
with no problems. They responded and felt I had sufficient time to take the test. The SAC then
offered for me to take the test that day. At the time I was dress in a suit and had not received
medical clearance to return to full duty until January. If I had taken the test before full
recovery, I could have risked serious injury to myself. In my opinion it was totally irresponsible
of the SAC put me in that position. .After pointing out certain points, I thought we had
established that if I provided a waiver from my doctor that this would be non issue but I would
later learn that this was not the case.
As the meeting continued, I was asked if I had any questions. I advised the SAC that I heard
that the unisex restroom was not going to be finished for about another 14 weeks. The SAC
confirmed that the rumor was correct, which would put completion sometime in mid March 05.
I then asked if that was the case how were we going to work though the restroom issue when I
returned in January. He then informed me that there was the Lester’s Dinner down the street. I
sat there in shock trying to process what he had just said. He made the argument that he
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thought I cared about the other staffs feelings. I did care about their feelings but the diner was
almost a half mile down the street. How I was going to shower. I expressed my concerns
again as I pointed out that the male restroom had broken down a couple of weeks prior and
that men were not required to walk to the diner, but in fact had been allowed to use the female
facilities for a short time. The SAC informed me that was different. I asked the SAC if we could
revisit this issue since I was under the impression from headquarters that we were supposed
to communicate. However the SAC who was now visibly upset went inform informed me that
under no uncertain terms he did communicate anything with me. I reminded the SAC that I
had done everything the agency requested for me to do and more and I felt that I had been
more than accommodating but telling me that I had to walk down the street to use the
restroom facilities when we could come to some sort of solution was unacceptable. The SAC
then ordered the ASAC to close his office door where I had no witnesses. He proceeded to
berate me and shake his finger at me telling me that I did not accommodate them, they
accommodated me. He had spent a whole week selling people on my transition and felt I
could come into his office on some sort of high horse. I told him I was not on a high horse and
that he did not sell anyone on anything and had only made the problems worse. He then
pressed me for specifics which I attempted to decline informing him he was upset and yelling
and I felt this should stop now. He continued to press and finally I relented informing him
specifically about the medical and personal information released which was contrary to what
was agreed in the documentation. Further I asked him would he have stood in front of the
office and advised everyone if a Genetic Female in the office had gotten breast implants. He
fired back rudely that I was not a woman but a man! I reminded him that the unisex restroom
suggest I had made was only a temporary measure until after GRS. He responded telling me
that he would decide when I used the office restroom! At this point I was upset, exhausted and
my pain medication was wearing off. I decided that this was not the time to fight this battle. I
Looked at him and told him that I have been in the Government for almost 16 years, 7 of
which I was a supervisor. Never in that time had I ever treated an employee the way he
treated me today. I then got up, opened the door and walked out.
The friend who was waiting walked out with me to the parking lot where I informed her of what
had just transpired. After having lunch with her I drove home, sat down with my wife and cried
as I told her what had just transpired. With all of the years of service I have given the
government, she was shocked and extremely upset that they would treat me this way
The next week, I was called back to the office and given my new credentials. Afterwards I was
called to the ASACS office where both ASACS informed me that there might be some
problems with my Official Passport. I asked what problems. They responded that there are
some countries may not want me to enter their country and because of that there may be a
problem with me getting a passport. I advised them that there was already a state department
policy that specifically addresses travel and passport issuance for transgender people.. I
further questions as to how they (the other countries) were they going to find out about my
transition unless someone told them. They didn’t provide an answer and I left their office with
instructions to provide them the required packet and pictures for the passport. I was then in
with the head security assistant taking care of administrative duties when the SAC came into
the office. Right away I noticed he was wearing a weapon. Something I had never seen before
and it felt very odd. He sat on the edge of the furniture and proceeded to advise me that he
had meet with the squads again and advised them I was coming back to duty. He told them
that I was better at my job than a lot of them (something I felt was again odd since the
previous week he had made a point to demean me). He then brought up my driver’s license.
He asked if I had changed my sex on the license. I replied no and explained to him the
procedures in Florida for making such a change. He said that he had spoken with someone
from Florida Hwy Patrol (FHP) and they said that if I change my gender on my license and if I
was pulled over I could be arrested for a Class D Felony. I left the office upset again as now it
appear that when I went to the airport I was going to have to worry about being arrested by
Miami Dade PD for using the female restroom.
Then when I thought nothing else could go wrong management decided to turn up there
pattern of harassment. Approximately two weeks later I received a counseling letter for failure
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to take the QFA and was told I could not grieve it. Feeling isolated and with nowhere to turn, I
contacted HR again and informed them of the discrimination. At first I felt the misconduct
might be addressed but the following day I was turned away and to told I had to go back to my
SAC who was one of the main harassers. At that point I was beside myself. After speaking in
length with my wife and one of my best friends Julie Marin who is the founder of TCOPS I
started searching for an attorney. .
If was not long after obtaining an attorney I received an email from my ATSAC who forwarded
an email from representatives from US State Department regarding my Official Passport. The
email indicated that my passport would not be renewed until after my GRS surgery was done.
This email was contrary to the State Department policy. It seemed especially strange since the
ASACS had recently told me that some foreign countries may have a problem with me
entering their borders. I decided that the State Department denying my passport was very
strange. I decided to follow my instincts. So, after advising my attorney, I sent my personal
passport with the same information along with a fee to have to have it expedited. Within a
couple of weeks my suspicions were confirmed when I received my personal passport with the
proper name change under assigned sex it had female. Also, the State Department included a
letter advising me the procedures and time limits for insuring the changes to my gender were
made permanent.
These procedures are outlined the State Department Policy as previously provided to Miami
Field Office management. After presenting my new passport to the SAC, I was told that it was
the State Department who had been holding up my passport not the FAM Service. Shortly
afterwards, I was issued my Official Passport.
At this point it became apparent that the harassment was going to continue and any attempts
to resolve them were unsuccessful so I initiated a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.
During the next several months the isolation and harassment continued. My ATSAC who help
contribute to the hostile environment continued to give me a hard time whenever possible and
address me both verbally and in writing with the wrong pronouns. When I was not present on
training days, he would continue to make inappropriate comments about me to my fellow team
members where I would hear about it later from one of my few supporters. In June 05 an
attempt was made through my attorney to resolve the issues but was unsuccessful, resulting
in me filing a full complaint.
In July 2005, I was getting ready to make my journey with my family to Trinidad Colorado
where I was having my GRS with Dr. Marci Bowers. Just prior to leaving, I was contacted by
my ATSAC and advised that my office was using a new policy that if I was gone for more than
30 days the SAC had the discretion to have me turn in my equipment until I returned. A
practice to my knowledge had never been done before. I reported to the office just before
leaving for surgery with all of my equipment and weapon. My supervisor called me into his
office, where we went through the inventory process. When we were finished all I was allowed
to keep was my credentials and cell phone. So as a law enforcement officer I had the authority
to act but no equipment or weapon to do so.
In August 2005 after only being home for a couple of weeks, I received some tragic news that
of my brothers had passed away due to an accident at this residence. I immediately call my
supervisor to advise him of the accident and that I would be traveling home. Again he show
his compassion when he asked if my brother had killed himself. I just sat there in shock that
anyone could be so insensitive. When I returned from the funeral I found out the office had
kept me isolated and didn’t even put out that my brother had passed away.
While out on leave I took advantage of the time and decided to take care of a couple of
administrative issues. One was I wanted to have my sex changed on my driver’s license which
I took care of with no problem. Florida DVM already had a policy in place and was helpful and
professional with the changes. The second issue was changing my sex with my insurance
company (Humana). I contacted Humana and was advised that if I changed my sex on my
coverage Humana was going to deny my wife coverage under DOMA. This was confusing
since I had my coverage with Humana for quite some time and they were well aware of my
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marital status. Now all of a sudden they were questioning it. When I was talking to the
representative, she advised me they were aware of my change since they had a copy of one
of my memorandums dated 2005. I advised her I didn’t send them a memorandum and she
said the agency had provided it. I got a copy of the memorandum and was shocked to find that
the memorandum I they were in procession of was a official memorandum I had written to my
SAC advising him of my legal name change and a request for a change to my official records
and new credentials not my health insurance. That request would come later and had nothing
to do with the memorandum and would address name change only. The insurance issued
continued and the agency and Humana refused to help me correct it. Finally, in December
2008, over three years later, I finally was able to change my health insurance to another
company. However this year when I signed up for dental, we were still back to the same old
problems with same sex and insurance, this despite the Presidents Executive Order in June
2009. As for the agency changing my records, to this day I am still running into files and
computer records that have not been corrected.
After recovering, I returned to duty and my coworkers and management continued their
campaign of isolation and harassment but I refused to quit. Shortly after returning to work my
ATSAC had stopped me in the hallway and asked to speak with me... at the time I had been
walking with a group of FAMS after returning from lunch. When he had me stop he has his
hand on my arm which I felt was inappropriate. At the same time he brought up the drivers
license issue as the SAC had previously done. He mentioned that management would not
want me to get into any trouble. I took this as a warning by management and immediately sent
an email advising him that I felt he was being inappropriate. I further requested that
management provided me more information including that legal statute that I would allegedly
be violating if I changed my sex on my driver’s licenses. They never did.
A about a month later my ATSAC accepted another position and we were assigned Acting
ATSACS. In early spring of 2006, the office of Civil Rights had not yet investigated my
complaint and it appeared they were doing more to try to discredit my complaint than
investigate its merits. My Attorney handled that aspect of the case while I continued to try and
hold on at the office. It was about the time we had requested a right to sue letter that my office
decided that they were going to reassign me and three other squad members to new squads
stating for operational reasons. The caveat to this was 3 out of the four FAMS moved had
active EEO complaints against the office. After being notified about the moves, I immediately
sent an e-mail to my ASAC; along with a copy to the Acting ATSAC about the move and that I
felt I was being retaliated against for engaging in protected activity. I was contacted by my
Acting ATSAC and advised that the administration wanted me to respond in memorandum
format by tried to discourage me from sending it. He further advised that I needed to remove
from my memorandum anything about me accusing them of retaliation. After sending them the
memorandum I was called into a meeting with my Acting ATSAC and one of the ASACS.
When the ASAC questioned was unable to tell me the selection criteria for the moves which
only reinforced my opinion and others that the moves were done in retaliation for our pending
EEO complaints against management.
I reported to my new squad and began the process all over again of building new relationships
and dispelling rumors and misconceptions I then started the long process of trying to try to
education my team mates.
During that time the TSA Office of Civil rights had agreed to conduct an EEO investigation but
had decided to proceed just as the time limits were running out. My attorney in accordance
with EEO regulations had had already advised the agency that we were not going to allow for
additional time for the investigation and refused to let them interview me. The agency
completed its investigation well after the time limit had expired and we requested the agency
final agency decision. During the next 16 months I worked in two ground base assignments,
one assigned to Special Projects and the other as a Liaison at the Miami International Airport.
During that time I received several awards for my performance. However from 2003 until
present I have not received any performance based in position salary increases.
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During that time, DHS Office of Civil Rights continued to hold on to my complaint and when
contacted and asked why it was taking so long, I was advised by a DHS Official that the delay
was due to a lack of personnel and budget. At this point I decided to contact Congresswoman
Ileana Ros-Lathen and ask for a meeting. After meeting with the Congresswoman, she sent 3
letters to the Directors of DHS/TSA and FAMS. The first two letters received a small response
but little attention to the issues. The 3rrd letter went out after DHS had held on the FAD for
over 2 years. This letter included a separate letter by me outlining specific allegations and
names of each individual involved resulted in the agency. DHS responded apparently upset by
the Congresswoman’s letter and dismissed my case not because it didn’t have any merit but
cited “Contumacious Behavior”.
In May 2009, my lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court Washington DC. Since that time,
management (ATSAC) has admitted to me that they have destroyed all the memorandums,
emails and documents I wrote regarding my transition. Which I find very troubling that agency
management can feel as safe and comfortable as to willfully and deliberately destroy
documents that are part of ongoing litigation.
Has the discrimination continued? Yes! But on a positive side I can say that a small number of
FAMS mostly on my current squad treats me with dignity and respect. Unfortunately there are
still many FAMS that ignore me and /or use wrong pronouns which are very common and very
frustrating.
Some FAMS address me with wrong pronouns in front of flight crews which again is
embarrassing. I am still often told that some FAMS still make negative comments including
cruel comments about me behind my back.
Management recently denied me the opportunity to compete for a Senior FAM position and
informed me not to put in for it even though I meet the qualifications. I was told that the Senior
FAMS were FAMS that management wanted other FAMS to emulate! This comment after my
supervisor used both male and female pronouns in my 6 month and yearly evaluation.
Afterwards I asked to speak with his supervisor the ASAC. My supervisor responded by trying
to intimidate me, giving me two direct orders not to speak with the ASAC unless he was
present. My office does not have any EEO counselors and safe harbors do not exist.
2.
Would you describe this as sexual harassment based on gender identity? If not, how
would you describe it?
Yes! My harassment was based on gender identity and/or expression and a violation of the
harassers' sex stereotypes for men and women when I: A) When I identified myself as
transgender, B) undertook transition, and C) undertook SRS.
3. I always emphasize documentation - I know that when I was sexually harassed in the Navy,
it was my understanding of the relevant regulations, and documentation of the violations,
that resulted in the perpetrators being found to have committed sexual harassment. How
did you document your experiences in light of relevant regulations, and has this helped
you develop a plan of action to this point?
I became very knowledgeable and familiar on EEO issues. After I did some research, I found
that the agency did not have a comprehensive anti discrimination policy. One of the most
important things that helped me considerably was all of my experience conducted
investigations in criminal and administrative misconduct. I had a broad knowledge in how to
research agency and government rules and regulations. This made it easier to document
these egregious violations.
4. Has the Obama Administration's relatively recent announcement that they are going to
change policy -- protecting employees based on gender identity -- effected how your
coworkers and management treat you in the workplace? Has the Obama Administration
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announcement of their policy change had any effect whatsoever on your workplace
situation?
No! The agency has not given any indication that they are in the process of changing any
policy regarding GLBT employees or adding Gender Identity to any policies including health
care issues. The agency currently doesn’t have any comprehensive anti discrimination policy
and appear to have a problem with following Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rules
and regulations. They reference there alleged zero tolerance for discrimination and reprisal in
a short policy statement by the Secretary of Homeland Security and through the agencies
Code of Conduct and Ethics which based on my personal experience is not enforced. Further
it is my opinion that the agency continues to resist any attempts to educate their employees on
working with Transgender employees or the public. When you bring up educating employees
they use language that they do not want to ram this down anyone’s throat. As a Federal
Employee we really don’t have any protections and the oversight and accountability is
basically nonexistent. I am excited that we may have a chance to finally pass ENDA but it’s
not enough to pass ENDA we have to ensure that it has proper oversight and is enforced.
EEO is basically broke and it needs a major over hall. EEO investigations are conducted by
contract employees and many of the interviews are done over the phone. When the
investigation is completed there is no conclusion whether the charges are sustained or not
sustained. In my case it’s been over 6 years and my agency never conducted any internal
investigation to determine if discrimination resulting in misconduct had occurred. If you look at
the data provided by TSA on the No Fear Act you will notice that there is no breakdown
indicating complaints filed within the Federal Air Marshal Service so they can hide the
problems. Agencies need to have their feet held to the fire, only then will we have a work
place free of discrimination. TSA lacks leadership and I was truly disappointed when Erroll
Southers withdrew his nomination last week stating he had been part of a “witch hunt”. It is
unfortunate because he had a great track record for supporting labor and had an extensive
Law Enforcement background.
5. Your situation involving your transition occurred in a federal agency that is part of the
Department Of Homeland Security. Some of the agencies in that department have police
powers. Do you have any thoughts about how your employment experience as a
transitioning trans woman in the workplace is happening in the federal department that is
charged with protecting Americans and has police powers?
I think it’s important for me to explain that my intention for coming forward is not to undermine
the mission of the Federal Air Marshals or the agency’s ability to protect the public. Going
public about these issues is not something that I take lightly. But I feel it’s necessary to bring
to light the discrimination and retaliation that is both server and pervasive though out the
agency. Discrimination is not inclusive to GLBT employees or the Miami Field Office and has
occurred against all classes of employees including race, religion, sex, and military veterans. I
am appalled and offended by managements behavior and lack of response on these issues
which was my driving force to come OUT. The events I have spoken about have personally
affected my life and career in the US Government as a trans woman. So it is my opinion that
FAM Service has taken the approach not to truly embrace a diverse workforce or a workplace
free of discrimination. Sure TSAFAMs say that we will celebrate our diversity (Diversity Days)
but in fact they have allowed FAMs management to create a culture of fear. Everyone is afraid
they will lose their jobs and their pensions if they bring up these issues or report any
violations. The employees that have tried to report acts of discrimination or were witnesses
are targeted and retaliated against. After being marginalized and isolated some are fired and
others resign under pressure hoping to put the issues behind them and start again. It’s
important for me to point out that in my field office, we do not have any EEO Counselors and
Safe Harbors do not exist. The Agency mentions the Ombudsmen program and the new
Integrated Conflict Management System (ICMS program). But these programs are controlled
by management and leave the employee nowhere to turn to when it involves management
officials. I know from personal experience that whenever I attempted to report discrimination to
headquarters, I was turned away and repeatedly referred back to the SAC of my field office
who was one of the main harassers and told that it was his office. Things have deteriorated so
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bad that after I requested to speak with my supervisor’s superior after being told I could not
apply for the Senor FAM position, I was given a direct order not to speak to my supervisor’s
superior without him being present…so much for safe harbors or open door policies.
The only training staff has received on discrimination is done through Online Learning which
all TSA/FAM employees use. The EEO course presented does not address transgender
based discrimination against employees or the flying public. The program is truly inadequate
and if you can get it to work properly the employee is more concern with completing it by the
deadline than truly learning something. So basically the employees and management are just
going through the motions. This is evident when employees and management officials
continue to address you both verbally and in writing using wrong pronouns. When new
employees or managers report to the office, they are immediately pulled aside and told about
me. They basically don’t care and nobody is held accountable! The current Director has stated
that we work in a culture of accountability. But from my perspective the only people I see
being held accountable are the working FAMs.
6. Veronica, how are you holding up? Are you getting the support you need?
Well it’s been a very long and difficult journey. I often tell other transgender people that when
you transition it’s a lot like riding a roller coaster. You have your ups and downs my transition
is no different. Transitioning is a very personal thing… I have had my share of pain and loss
but despite everything I continue to endure, I am a stronger person for it. It’s hard for me to
mention everyone who has supported me. My mother, step father and younger, brother and
my deceased brother’s wife and daughters: Members of both Florida Legal and TCOPS. But
my biggest support came from my daughter and my wife of almost 26 years. My wife and I
have been through everything together and supported each other during some very difficult
times. She really is my better half and is truly an extraordinary woman; I don’t know what I
would do without her. I have relied on both my wife and daughter so much and there love and
support give me the strength to carry on this fight.
I also try to stay active, I box and do mixed martial arts and recently competed in my first
jujitsu tournament. This was a very liberating experience.
I am a fighter and a survivor and I take one day at a time. I try to be thankful for what I have
and try to remain hopeful for change.
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