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|Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm Post subject: Hospital Expands Employment Opportunities
|Dallas Morning News, TX, USA
Parkland Memorial Hospital expands equal employment opportunities to
By SHERRY JACOBSON
Published: 22 January 2013 10:48 PM
Parkland Memorial Hospital joined other public employers Tuesday in
expanding equal employment opportunities to transgender employees or
The hospital’s board of managers also approved a policy that
prohibited harassment or retaliation against workers who may be
affected by “gender identity” and “gender expression.”
Other governmental entities offering the same employee protections
include the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Dallas County, Dallas
Area Rapid Transit and the North Texas Tollway Authority.
According to the American Psychological Association, “transgender is
an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression
or behavior does not conform to what typically is associated with the
sex they were assigned at birth.”
Gender identity refers to a person’s “internal sense of being male,
female or something else,” the psychologist group said, “while gender
expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to
others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body
Rafael McDonnell, advocacy manager for Resource Center Dallas, praised
the Parkland board for extending job protections to these workers. His
group has lobbied local governmental agencies to protect such
employees, since there are no statewide laws to protect them.
“If you work for a smaller business in this state, you can still be
fired for being gay,” he said. “It’s perfectly legal.”
Parkland’s new rules, however, do not protect transgender patients and
visitors from certain discriminating behaviors. Top officials said
Parkland would strive to become a “more welcoming” institution.
“The main issue with transgender people is they don’t know which
bathroom to use,” said Dr. Roberto de la Cruz, a hospital board
member. “Somebody might be upset in the bathroom with them and
wondering, why you are there.”
In April, a transgender woman was ticketed for disorderly conduct by
Parkland police after using a hospital restroom while accompanying her
husband to a clinic visit. Someone complained that a man was inside
the ladies’ room.
The woman, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, told the
Dallas Voice she had lived as a man since at least 2006.
De la Cruz said he met with the woman last spring to determine what
happened and to offer an apology from the hospital.
Although her ticket was later dismissed by a justice of the peace, the
woman has continued to contact de la Cruz each time she visits
Parkland in hopes of avoiding arrest, he said.
“People are not aware that these things happen,” de la Cruz said.
“What I worry about most is the potential for violence.”
The hospital recently set up a task force to find ways to avoid
confrontations with transgender patients or visitors. The task force
may recommend that such visitors use designated “unisex” bathrooms on
each floor of the hospital.
Based on his own experience, de la Cruz said, Parkland has been
accepting of openly gay employees. He came to the hospital in 1993 as
a resident and later joined the staff.
“I never had a problem,” he said.
In 2008, Parkland extended employment protections to gay and lesbian
workers. Three years later, it expanded benefits, including health
insurance, to the domestic partners of employees.
Each couple, however, must prove it has shared a common residence for
at least a year and not be married or separated from someone else as
well as satisfy a long list of other requirements.
So far, 19 domestic partners have been added to the hospital’s
insurance plan, said Jim Johnson, who oversees Parkland’s human
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