When Erin Dotten came out to her employers at Broward College as transgender and told them about her plans to transition from male to female, she was not expecting the fight that quickly followed:
“Within a day, I was in HR on a performance improvement plan,” she said. Though Erin had no previous disciplinary action against her from her past four years at the college, where she served as Assistant Director of Health Sciences Simulation Center, she was fired six months later – and was told that it was due to her transition. “They made my life pure hell.”
To Erin, living and working openly as a transgender woman was a necessary decision. “I came out as transgender to my wife three years ago,” she said. “However, I was on hormones and had multiple attempts at transitioning over the last 9 years. After my last suicide attempt, I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be who I am, and to hell with it.’”
After coming out, Erin became an LGBTQ advisor for Broward College, and as a trained paramedic and EMS Chief, she considered herself to be a role model for the school community. But the college administration continued to escalate their complaints against her in the coming months, and ultimately, it resulted in Erin’s sudden termination.
Erin is now standing up in court to defend her freedom against employment discrimination. And as a lifelong conservative Republican, she’s now speaking out with Conservatives Against Discrimination, a program of Freedom for All Americans dedicated to elevating the voices of conservatives who support freedom and dignity for all LGBTQ people. All Americans should be judged based on their character and actions, not based on who they are or who they love.
Erin is continuing to fight against the discriminatory practices she faced as an employee of Broward College, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on whether whether LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 will play a defining role in her battle for fair treatment. “On October 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether Title VII protects me,” she said, referencing a trio of cases heard in October, with a decision expected in spring 2020. The cases feature plaintiffs like Erin: LGBTQ people who lost their job because of their LGBTQ identity. The stakes are high. “I lost an 80K a year job, and now I’m back to working as a paramedic and a paralegal,” Erin said.
Erin knows that her case isn’t about politics; it’s about basic dignity and respect. That’s why she stands with other members of Conservatives Against Discrimination in making the case that the freedom to live and work free from discrimination is aligned with conservative values.
“I think conservatives should speak up to other conservatives and say, ‘I was brought up Christian, I taught Sunday School, I taught vacation Bible study, and what I do know is that at least the God that I pray to looks at me as one of His children,” Erin said. “It’s supposed to be Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not Love your neighbor as yourself unless you’re in the LGBT community. That was my main thought and reason behind supporting Conservatives Against Discrimination.”
Erin’s story shines a light on why comprehensive LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections are necessary to guarantee freedom for all Americans, which is exactly what’s at stake for millions of LGBTQ individuals this year.
While Erin’s fight for freedom may be deeply personal, conservative support for nondiscrimination protections is growing nationwide, with a majority saying they are supportive. Increasingly, conservatives are speaking out on their belief that every American should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and be able to provide for their families. Those aren’t just conservative values – they are American values, and working toward the day when no one faces discrimination makes the country stronger.
As the current administration continues its efforts to strip away measures designed to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination, it’s important that Americans from all political and economic backgrounds join forces to fight for our shared values. We need to continue sharing our stories, supporting hard-working Americans like Erin in their battles against discrimination, and advocating for comprehensive LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections to guarantee freedom for all Americans.