He to She Leads to 'Her' Hotel Job Loss
[EDMUNTON, AB] - In the realm of top jobs, hotel manager may not fit but it is the dream of Lisa Amber Hardy.
That's her real name, the one she chose six months ago. It is not her birth name which never felt right. It's one of the names she used when it got dark and she could cover her slim frame in a dress and put makeup over the stubble.
It's the name she asked her employer to start using last December. She was no longer known as Doug.
She had a letter from Dr. Lorne Warneke, a clinical psychiatrist at the Grey Nuns gender disorder clinic, explaining that before a sex change operation, patients must first live at least a year as the opposite gender.
Her bosses at the Travelodge hotel on Calgary Trail, where she managed the front desk, seemed OK with her decision to become a woman. They gave her a woman's uniform and instructed staff to call her Lisa.
But five days later, she said, two managers called her into an office, closed the door, told her customers and co-workers were complaining and asked her to write her own resignation. After about 45 minutes, she finally did and left the office in tears.
The circumstances surrounding that meeting are now before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission and will probably be decided by a tribunal.
Toronto Travelodge spokesman Bruce Macdonald said the company won't comment on employee issues.
Hardy said she loved her job, had just been promoted and had earned an employee-of-the-month distinction four months prior. She said she offered to be reassigned to a less public job but her employer declined. Her resignation, after three years of employment, was under duress, she said.
Duress is commonplace for Hardy, 33. She felt it in gym class when she couldn't perform like the other boys. She felt it as a teenager when her mom and stepdad punished her for buying girl's clothes and makeup.
She'll probably feel it today walking the sidewalk outside the Travelodge.
"I didn't run straight to the media. I tried all the proper channels," said Hardy, who has painted finger nails and wears slight blush on high cheek bones.
"My feeling is they turned my world upside down. On the record, as it stands, I resigned. But I want it known -- I was fired."
Hardy wants an apology and a job at the hotel or $7,000 so she can attend NorQuest College next fall for business administration.
Warneke has dealt with about 120 Alberta residents in the past half dozen years with gender identity disorder. It's a disability, like club foot, he said. Some people live with the suffering, others choose surgery to fix it. Many avoid the problem Lisa faced by switching jobs when they switch genders.
"I do have some sympathy for employers," Warneke said. "It's hard to get your mind around it. But it's a changing world. Society's tolerance is changing."
Edmonton lawyer Julie Lloyd, who teaches human rights law at the University of Alberta and represents many gay and transgendered clients, said legal strides in gay rights have spurred transgendered people to demand the same things.
Human rights commissions in other provinces have dealt with cases like this under gender discrimination, she said.
Louise Borle, acting director of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, cannot comment on Hardy's case for legal reasons but said the commission has dealt with about a dozen complaints of discrimination from transgendered people. So far, none have gone to public tribunal. Depending on individual circumstances, the rights of transgendered people are usually protected on the basis of gender or disability, she said.
Copyright 2002 Edmonton Journal