License to Discriminate Backers Have a New, Dangerous Tactic: Invoking Federal Religious Protections

Proponents of passing a License to Discriminate in Georgia are test-driving a new talking point: Saying they won’t pass any bill that’s more strict than federal “religious freedom” laws.

That sounds reasonable on its face, but it’s not. It’s the same call for state-sanctioned discrimination that we’ve heard for the last five years. Our position is unchanged: Right now, in Georgia, no RFRA is a good RFRA.

There are two big reasons why: At the federal level, civil rights laws often prevent religion from being used to discriminate—but there are no federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Georgia has no statewide protections either.

Even in existing federal law, we’re now seeing the balance tip toward discrimination. Courts are interpreting laws that protect religious practice in ways that encourage discrimination, and enforcement of federal non-discrimination law is weak. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a great fact sheet that lays this situation out in more detail, but essentially there are four broad reasons a federal-style RFRA could not work in Georgia:

  • Courts have changed the way that RFRA works, interpreting it more broadly.
  • The federal RFRA is currently being invoked to justify discrimination in certain situations, specifically in healthcare and employment, including government-funded health services.
  • In the 1990s, Congress actually rejected a second federal “religious freedom” law because it lacked non-discrimination protections.
  • State RFRAs are often justified using anti-LGBT rhetoric, making it clear the motive is anti-LGBT discrimination.

These reasons are more than enough to continue to oppose RFRA, and speak out forcefully against any attempt by opponents of equality to say these laws are anything but state-sanctioned discrimination.

We need to push back fast against this new strategy for bringing a License to Discriminate to Georgia. Share this FAQ about their scheme, so fair-minded Georgians know the truth.

 

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New Report From UCLA’s Williams Institute: Same-Sex Couples More Likely To Foster and Adopt Children

August 2, 2018 by admin

A study released on July 31 by the Williams Institute at UCLA, a think tank that studies law and public policy issues affecting LGBT people, shows an estimated 114,000 same-sex couples are raising children, with one in five (21.4%) raising an adopted child.

According to this latest research, only 3% of different-sex couples are raising adopted children; when it comes to foster care, the numbers are again disproportionate, with 2.9% of same-sex couples raising a foster child compared to 0.4% for different-sex couples.

“Our findings highlight the importance of laws and policies that encourage and support adoption and fostering by same-sex couples,” said lead author Shoshana Goldberg, PhD. “Without these policies, a qualified population of prospective parents may not have equal access to government-funded child welfare agencies and services.”

These findings are particularly relevant in the face of recent attempts to discriminate against LGBTQ people in adoption and foster care. This past legislative session, some Georgia lawmakers attempted to pass a bill that would allow private and publicly-funded adoption agencies to refuse to place a child in the home of an LGBTQ person by claiming a religious or moral exemption. Luckily, that bill died before it could become law. Similar legislation was also defeated in Colorado.

However, discriminatory adoption measures were passed in Kansas and Oklahoma. Furthermore, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved what is known as the Aderholt Amendment, which would strip agencies that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people andothers of a majority of their federal funding.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people in adoption does nothing but play with the lives of the tens of thousands of children in the foster care and adoption systems, only further delaying potential placement in a loving home.

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Augusta Commission Approves Comprehensive Employment Protections for Municipal Employees

June 20, 2018 by admin

On Tuesday, by a vote of 8-0, the Augusta-Richmond County Commission approved the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories to the list of nondiscrimination protections for the county’s municipal employees.

With the vote, Augusta joins other Georgia cities including Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, and Athens as those that protect municipal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Matt Duncan, President of Equality Augusta, said in a statement:

“I would like to thank the board of Equality Augusta for all their time and effort in making today’s vote possible, Georgia Equality and its Executive Director Jeff Graham for their support and guidance, Kellie Irving, the city’s EEO Compliance Director, and Augusta Pride and our entire LGBTQ Augusta community for showing our neighbors every day that our equality is important to all of us. Today is an historic day for our city and this vote is a wonderful way to kick off Augusta Pride 2018.”

Advocates had been hopeful a resolution could be reached in time for the city’s annual Pride Festival, running June 21-24. Talks about amending the employment discrimination statute began in 2016, as part of an effort to raise the city’s standing in the Municipal Equality Index, a yearly report from the Human Rights Campaign that assesses a city’s state of equality based on the treatment of their LGBTQ populations, as well as relevant laws and protections that exist for them.  

Although several cities in the Peach State offer a patchwork of protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations for LGBTQ people, Georgia is still one of 31 states nationwide with no statewide comprehensive nondiscrimination laws. Bills have been introduced in every legislative session over the past several years that would remedy this, but none have moved out of committee. However, discriminatory bills have been by and large defeated for the past five years, including a measure this year that would have allowed publicly funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people when placing a child in the home.

We congratulate our friends and partners at Equality Augusta and Georgia Equality for their hard work in making these employment protections a reality. Victories such as these help advance and provide momentum for our movement to make sure that LGBTQ people will be protected statewide.

To learn more, read Georgia Equality’s full press release here.

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Fatherhood is the “Most Rewarding, Fulfilling” Job, Even in The Face of Discrimination

June 14, 2018 by admin

Richard Kalasky says being a father has been the “most rewarding, fulfilling, and hardest thing” he and his husband Carlos have done.

Carlos and Richard are the proud parents of two adopted children and have fostered six children. The Georgia legislature’s attempt earlier this year to pass a law legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination against potential adoptive parents hit them especially hard.

And the daily threat of discrimination, Richard says, makes the hard job of parenting even harder for the both of them.

“Discrimination, whether through looks or comments, in our daily lives, proves the need for us to be strong fathers in the face of adversity, and beacons of hope and knowledge for those whom need it.”

“Discrimination, whether through looks or comments, in our daily lives, proves the need for us to be strong fathers in the face of adversity, and beacons of hope and knowledge for those whom need it.”
–RICHARD KALASKY

Richard says they try to turn instances of discrimination as a chance to educate, especially for their two children.

“Even at their young age, we use moments of discrimination as teachable moments, hope that in our journey of fatherhood we are able to raise socially conscious and loving little humans.”

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Fathers Say They Can’t Shy Away from Discussing Discrimination with Their Children

June 13, 2018 by admin

Talking with their children about discrimination, the law, and what it means for their family is something same-sex parents all handle differently.

Some introduce the concept when their children are small. Others are forced to address it when something happens—like if a parent is discriminated against or fired from their job because they’re gay.

Rob and Clay Calhoun, who have careers in public education and corporate America, haven’t shied away from discussing discrimination with their two kids: Rainey, 14, and Jimmy, 11.

They really can’t shy away, because employment discrimination could affect their family at any time.

“Our two beloved kids are stunned that either of their parents can be legally fired from our jobs simply for being gay.”
–ROB CALHOUN

“Our two beloved kids are stunned that either of their parents can be legally fired from our jobs simply for being gay,” Rob says. “Without statewide non-discrimination protections, this is a fact of life.”

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Atlanta Family: Parenting is Harder When You Can Legally Be Targeted for Discrimination

June 13, 2018 by admin

Darryl Holloman and Glyn Williams have been together for 23 years and married for four. They’re the parents of 7-year-old twin boys, Delbert and Delvin.

When Darryl talks publicly about his family, he knows people immediately focus on the big, obvious difference—that they’re two dads. But what he wants people to realize about that difference is that it’s only surface level. There’s much more that unites him and Glyn with the other fathers of the world.

“I think it is important to remember that we are not a ‘gay family’—we are just a family with two dads,” he says. “We simply want what all fathers want for our children: For them to have a great education, live in a safe neighborhood, have the freedom to make their own choices as they grow, and to live happy and productive lives.”

“I think it is important to remember that we are not a “gay family”—we are just a family with two dads.”
–DARRYL HOLLOMAN

But when both Darryl and Glyn can be legally targeted for discrimination, it makes achieving those goals for Delbert and Delvin so much harder.

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An LGBT-Inclusive Civil Rights Law Would Provide “Peace of Mind” for These Dads

June 13, 2018 by admin

Derek Broussard and Donnie Cormier have been together for 12 years. Four years ago, they officially tied the knot—and then completed their family by adopting their son, Dax, not long after.

Derek and Donnie feel the same joy all fathers feel watching their children grow. But for them, that joy is tempered by worry about barriers Dax might face because his parents are gay. Dax is four years old now, meaning soon he’ll leave their home for preschool and other public places where he, and his parents, can be legally discriminated against.

“Having non-discrimination protections for gay fathers would really provide peace of mind for our family and families just like ours.”
–DEREK BROUSSARD

“Having non-discrimination protections for gay fathers would really provide peace of mind for our family and families just like ours,” Derek says, noting that although that hasn’t happened yet in Georgia, the introduction last year of bi-partisan legislation that would address anti-LGBT discrimination in Georgia gives him hope.

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Supreme Court Reverses Masterpiece Decision, While Recognizing the Importance of LGBT-Inclusive Civil Rights

June 4, 2018 by admin

Bad news from the Supreme Court today. Moments ago, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker who refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple.

This ruling, thankfully, was limited in scope and leaves intact Colorado’s civil rights law protecting LGBT people. But that means people in states without protections are still at risk.

It’s up to lawmakers to ensure everyone is protected from discrimination in Georgia. Sign the pledge now: Say you’ll never stop fighting for LGBT-inclusive civil rights in Georgia.

A few things are clear after today’s decision:

One, lawmakers who have unsuccessfully pushed for dangerous religious exemptions in Georgia the past five years will almost certainly double down in their quest to pass a license to discriminate bill in 2019.

Two, Georgians absolutely support their LGBT friends and neighbors. Right now, 57 percent of Georgians oppose allowing business owners the kind of broad License to Discriminate against LGBT people that the Court sanctioned today. And two-thirds (66 percent) support passing a law that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, which are places like restaurants and shops.

We must make sure our lawmakers hear this message loud and clear. Sign the pledge now: Commit to moving LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination legislation forward. And if you’re a local business owner who wants to speak out, sign out business pledge. 

 

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Sign the Pledge: Say You’re A Georgia Small Business Owner Who Supports LGBT Civil Rights

May 31, 2018 by admin

Next week, the Supreme Court could decide a pivotal case for LGBT equality.

The case is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado, and it involves a bakery that refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple, directly violating Colorado’s law preventing businesses open to the public from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

No matter what the Court decides, opponents of LGBT equality will be emboldened, and prepared to attempt legislation for a sixth year in a row that erodes our rights. All Georgians, but especially local businesses, will need to speak up clearly and say: Discrimination is wrong and it’s bad for business.

Business opinion on this issue is already pretty clear.

According to polling conducted by the advocacy organization Small Business Majority [PDF], 66 percent of Georgia’s small business owners say they do not need or want a license to discriminate against LGBT customers.

“66 percent of Georgia’s small business owners say they do not need or want a license to discriminate against LGBT customers.”

And 63 percent actually favor federal legislation that would prevent discrimination against LGBT people in places of public accommodation. These are places like restaurants, shops and most other local small businesses open to the public—exactly the kind of discrimination the Supreme Court will weigh in on soon.

Local businesses are already one of our most important constituencies speaking out for LGBT-inclusive civil rights protections.

After this decision comes down, your voice will be even more important: Sign our small business pledge to start speaking out.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Joins National Coalition Against Anti-LGBT Discrimination

May 21, 2018 by admin

A national coalition working to expand protections for LGBT Americans just got a new member: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

In a statement released by her office on May 15, Mayor Bottoms invoked Atlanta’s position as a historic place of leadership on civil rights:

“The City of Atlanta is the cradle of the Civil Rights movement in America and we continue to value the protection of all human rights. Joining Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is another important step towards protecting the dignity and freedom of all who call Atlanta home.”

This is only one of many steps Mayor Bottoms is taking to make non-discrimination a priority. Earlier this year her office created an LGBTQ Advisory Board to serve as a bridge between the Mayor’s office and residents, and hired the city’s first full-time employee dedicated to addressing LGBT resident’s needs.

“The City of Atlanta is the cradle of the Civil Rights movement in America and we continue to value the protection of all human rights. Joining Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is another important step towards protecting the dignity and freedom of all who call Atlanta home.” — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a bipartisan group of mayors and other municipal leaders dedicated to securing LGBT-inclusive civil rights protections, utilizing the unique role mayors play in setting policy for their communities. It currently includes 310 members from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

In joining the coalition, Mayor Bottoms continues the work of former Atlanta Mayor and coalition member Kasim Reed, and joins Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett and Pine Lake Mayor Melanie Hammet.

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Transgender Law Enforcement Officer Finds Community Acceptance, But Says That Can’t Replace Legal Protections

May 21, 2018 by admin

Since Anna Lange came out as a transgender woman to her central Georgia community, “99 percent of interactions have been positive,” she says.

That wasn’t what she expected. Anna has worked in law enforcement in the area for more than a decade, and she was nervous that her neighbors and coworkers, who are a conservative bunch, wouldn’t understand.

Only a few times have community members expressed discomfort if she was working their case. And those times, she said, the case was especially sensitive, so she’s not entirely sure the discomfort was because she is transgender.

“It’s been a real blessing. I came out to them, and nobody knew any trans people. But when they put a face to a name, and realize that oh, you’re still the same person, then it’s not a big issue. That surprised me.” —Anna Lange

And for her coworkers, she says, “it was a non-issue.”

“It’s been a real blessing. I came out to them, and nobody knew any trans people. But when they put a face to a name, and realize that oh, you’re still the same person, then it’s not a big issue. That surprised me.”

One interaction that wasn’t positive came when Anna was working for a church, directing traffic in and out of the parking lot during services. After she came out the church’s head of security started to question her appearance.

Then, she was called into her superior’s office at the law enforcement agency and met with an accusation of impropriety from the church. An internal investigation completely cleared her, but when she went back to reclaim her traffic gig they said they didn’t need her anymore.

“The first thing the head of security said was, ‘What name are we going to go with today?’ He said they didn’t need any more traffic help, but then they hired a couple of other people anyway.”

To Anna it’s clear they were uncomfortable with her because she is transgender. She was lucky the church’s actions didn’t negatively impact her position with the law enforcement agency. But many transgender people are not so lucky.

“The first thing the head of security said was, ‘What name are we going to go with today?’ He said they didn’t need any more traffic help, but then they hired a couple of other people anyway.”

That’s why Georgia needs a comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law that—although it wouldn’t apply to religious employers like churches—could protect workers in many similar situations.

“It hurts the state, not having these protections. You might not agree with what we’re doing or all that, but nobody should want anybody to be discriminated against.”

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Thousands-Strong Coalition of Georgians Working for LGBT Equality Beats Back Discriminatory Bills for 5th Year

April 2, 2018 by admin

For the fifth year in a row, our coalition of hundreds of business, faith and other community leaders and thousands of individual Georgians has defeated legislative attempts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into Georgia law.

The session started with an early victory: Lawmakers speedily passed a long-awaited overhaul of Georgia’s adoption and foster care system. HB 159 was unfinished business from the last legislative session. The bill was heading for passage when extremist lawmakers tainted it by adding an anti-LGBT amendment, thereby ensuring it wouldn’t advance in 2017.

The Senate Judiciary Committee stripped that amendment this year, allowing the bill to sail through both chambers before Governor Deal signed it on March 5th.

But soon anti-LGBT lawmakers were back with another attempt to discriminate against LGBT Georgians. They rolled the anti-LGBT amendment that had been attached to HB 159 into a stand-alone bill, SB 375. That bill would have given taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies a License to Discriminate against LGBT youth and same-sex couples.

Child welfare were adamant that such legislation would not improve Georgia’s adoption and foster care system. In fact, they said, children would wait longer for loving homes if qualified LGBT parents were excluded. And since SB 375 would have allowed agencies to refuse to work with LGBT youth, it essentially guaranteed they would stay longer in foster care, reducing the likelihood they’d be adopted at all.

Business groups also worried about the effect such a License to Discriminate would have on Georgia’s economy—specifically on the state’s $9.5 billion film industry and the Atlanta metro area’s chances of snagging Amazon’s second headquarters.

In the end, although the Senate advanced SB 375, it never gained traction in the House and had not received any additional attention as of Sine Die on March 30th. Extremist lawmakers tried several last-ditch attempts to attach discriminatory language to the hundreds of bills that the legislature considered from March 27th to 30th, but all attempts were unsuccessful.

This is something we can celebrate—but we can’t rest until LGBT Georgians are protected from discrimination by law. We’re committed to keeping the pressure on lawmakers until LGBT-inclusive civil rights is the law of the land in Georgia.

Sign our pledge to say you’ll never stop working for LGBT-inclusive civil rights in Georgia.

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For Transgender Day of Visibility, Max Wants Other Georgians to Know He is More than A Trans Man

March 29, 2018 by admin

Max is originally from the Netherlands, and currently works from home as a product moderator, translating information into English and Dutch. He’s also a full-time student at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, where he studies healthcare management.

When he’s not working or going to school, Max exercises, works on puzzles and other creative work, and volunteers at the Calvin Center in Hampton, which provides equestrian therapy to children and adults with physical, developmental and learning disabilities.

That is what Max wants his fellow Georgians to know about him, especially people who might have never met someone who is transgender. His identity is an important part of who he is—but it doesn’t define him.  

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

“I’m not just a transman; I’m a man that happens to be trans.”

And Transgender Day of Visibility gives transgender people, their families and allies the opportunity to show that to the world.

“It lets people know that, just because we are trans, we aren’t any less talented, driven, or deserving than anyone else,” he says. “We set out goals, we work hard for our goals, and being trans doesn’t stop us from reaching our goals.”

For those who would single transgender Georgians out for discrimination, Max has an additional message: Transgender people we didn’t choose to be this way, just like no one chooses the cards they are dealt in life.

“Why single us out because we stand up for ourselves and be who we were meant to be?”

He says his life would have been easier if he could just “flip a switch,” and not need to transition and live as the man he knows himself to be. But that just isn’t possible—being transgender is not a choice.  

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

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For Transgender Day of Visibility, Transgender Georgians Are Thriving, Surviving and Speaking Out Against Discrimination

March 29, 2018 by admin

Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated annually on March 31, is an opportunity for transgender people around the world to share their stories and build community.

That’s exactly what two Georgians are doing this week, in the run-up to Saturday’s celebration. Both Feroza Syed and Max Nijssen decided this would be they year they’d speak out widely about what it means to be transgender, with the hope of spreading understanding to their fellow Georgians.

Max’s story was compiled in cooperation with Trans Student Educational Resources, a youth-led organization that works to improve the educational environment for transgender and gender nonconforming students.

***

Max Nijssen | Morrow

Max is originally from the Netherlands, and currently works from home as a product moderator, translating information into English and Dutch. He’s also a full-time student at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, where he studies healthcare management.

When he’s not working or going to school, Max exercises, works on puzzles and other creative work, and volunteers at the Calvin Center in Hampton, which provides equestrian therapy to children and adults with physical, developmental and learning disabilities.

All of that is what Max wants his fellow Georgians to know about him, especially people who might have never met someone who is transgender. His identity as a transgender person is an important part of who he is—but it doesn’t define him. 

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

“I’m not just a transman; I’m a man that happens to be trans.”

And Transgender Day of Visibility gives transgender people, their families and allies the opportunity to show that to the world.

“It lets people know that, just because we are trans, we aren’t any less talented, driven, or deserving than anyone else,” he says. “We set out goals, we work hard for our goals, and being trans doesn’t stop us from reaching our goals.”

For those who would single transgender Georgians out for discrimination, Max has an additional message: Transgender people we didn’t choose to be this way, just like no one chooses the cards they are dealt in life.

“Why single us out because we stand up for ourselves and be who we were meant to be?”

He says his life would have been easier if he could just “flip a switch,” and not need to transition and live as the man he knows himself to be. But that just isn’t possible—being transgender is not a choice.  

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

***

Feroza Syed | Atlanta

In late 2016, Feroza and her husband Stephen Croft started thinking about starting a family. They were going through the fostering process with the Division of Family and Children Services, but then DFCS lost their paperwork, meaning they’d have to start all over.

This year, they were ready to try again—but Georgia was threatening to put a new barrier in their way: SB 375, which would have allowed adoption agencies to refuse to work with Feroza because she is transgender.

“It is hateful. It makes me feel not valuable … what else do you want from us?”

Feroza seems like exactly the person you’d want to foster parent. She has years of experience caring for her six nieces and nephews, and family who would welcome the prospect of more children. And she’s more than financially stable, thanks in part to her career as a successful realtor.

“[SB 375] is hateful. It makes me feel not valuable … what else do you want from us?”

It’s this career that also leads her to worry about the economic ramifications of a License to Discriminate against LGBT Georgians. Feroza has had dozens of clients to her real estate business who are from the film industry, and she says they’re nervous.

“These RFRA bills could put an end to a $9.5 billion business in Georgia.”

And they could put an end to the dreams of Feroza and Stephen, and couples like them across the state of Georgia who want to start a family—but are held back by discrimination.  

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Feroza Syed is Ready to Start A Family—But Because She is Transgender, Discrimination May Stand in The Way

March 21, 2018 by admin

Feroza Syed is the model of the type of person you would want to become a foster parent.

She has years of experience caring for her six nieces and nephews, and family who would welcome the prospect of more children. She and her husband of 10 years, Stephen Croft, are more than financially stable—thanks in part to her career as a successful realtor.

So it shocks her to know that some Georgia lawmakers think adoption and foster care agencies should be allowed to discriminate against her because she is transgender.

“It is hateful. It makes me feel not valuable … what else do you want from us?”

In late 2016, Feroza and Stephen started thinking about starting a family. They were going through the fostering process with the Division of Family and Children Services, but then DFCS lost their paperwork, meaning they’d have to start all over again.

Feroza says that wasn’t the end of the world, because soon it seemed like she might not quite be ready. As a transgender muslim woman from a family of immigrants, the election results had hit her hard, and she was growing depressed.  

“The fear kicked in. I put on weight, wasn’t happy, was acting miserable. Then last October I looked at myself and wondered who I was. I said ‘Who is this person being fearful of who you are?’” —Feroza Syed, Atlanta

“I went to a place of fear, unlike what I had done my whole life,” she said, having been through multiple obstacles. The only other time she ever remembered being afraid otherwise was after her initial transition.

“The fear kicked in. I put on weight, wasn’t happy, was acting miserable. Then last October I looked at myself and wondered who I was. I said ‘Who is this person being fearful of who you are?’”

That snapped her back. She decided she would stop letting fear run her life, and start speaking out, including about the fact that she is transgender.

One of the first people Feroza came out to—outside of her immediate family—was actually her boss. Her work performance had been declining, and her boss was concerned. Feroza was honest: She told her boss that as a transgender Muslim woman, with roots in India, current events had been weighing on her very heavily.

“I was crying. I told her I was trans. And when I told her I felt better.” Feroza said that disclosure set off a chain reaction. “Then I told my coworkers, and I felt better. I told my dental assistant, and I felt better. I regained my self worth by honoring who I am.”

When Feroza first started telling her story publicly, she worried she would lose her business, and her friends, like she had lost many members of her extended family when she came out to them as a teenager.  

The actual response has been the complete opposite. Since her story went viral on Facebook in early February, she’s gotten calls from all over the world. People are seeking her advice, or just wanting to connect with someone like them. The calls and messages come from as far away as Pondicherry, India—and as close by as her own neighborhood.

“Having come from my background, I didn’t think this is how it would happen. I thought I would lose a lot. Instead I gained so much.”

Her workplace, Atlanta Fine Homes, Sotheby’s International Realty—where she’s an associate broker—has also been incredibly supportive. Though she does think she lost two clients from coming out. And some contacts have disappeared, which seems more than coincidental.

But the positive responses far outweigh those negatives.

“Having come from my background, I didn’t think this is how it would happen. I thought I would lose a lot. Instead I gained so much.”

Feroza still has worries though—specifically, SB 375 which presents an imminent threat to her and Stephen’s ability to build their family. Now that they’re ready to try again, Georgia might just put another barrier in their way.

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We were so grateful to be able to profile Rachel last year. Her story is inspiring and it's sad to see her treated unfairly. Thank you Rachel for standing up for yourself! bit.ly/2VTK7j3

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