Equality means everyone is equal.
Tristan Broussard grew up in a little town named Hathaway, Louisiana.
It's a town with lots of crawfish fields, soothing Southern accents, and one caution light. In the video below, Tristan seems like a confident, likable, and a hardworking guy.
Eventually, he left his small town to pursue work opportunities.
He moved to a big city — Lake Charles, Louisiana — and found a job with Tower Loans. In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, he recalls his first conversation with Miss Leah, his boss, during his initial interview:
"We sat in a little cubicle, and she was like, 'I really like you. I'll give you a call and let you know how it goes.' I said, 'All right.' She said, 'In the next few days.' Well, as soon as I left and got on the road, I was maybe five minutes down the road, and she called me and said, 'You know what? You got the job.'"
Tristan was hired and liked his job — until one rule slowed him down.
From Tristan's perspective, he had success with his job, was well liked in the office, and followed all the rules ... except one. Tristan says his bosses wanted him to "dress like a woman" at work. Yeah, you read that right. They wanted him to put on (I assume) a dress or skirt and come to work because when Tristan was born, the doctor assigned him female.
“Rather than being treated like any other male employee, my employer told me I would be fired unless I dressed and acted as if I were female. The treatment I went through was inexcusable. It was wrong to be fired for who I am."
How does dressing "like a woman" or dressing "like a man" help a loan company do their job better?
Dress codes are fair within a business, but gender-based dress codes are not. They continue a cycle of discrimination that the trans community knows all too well.
Tristan explains how far back his experience with discrimination goes in his interview. At 2:34, he recalls an incident when he went through the Catholic tradition of confirmation as a child. The parallels are heartbreaking:
"I'm trying to be who I am," Tristan says. "Nobody should have that taken away from them."
Tristan has sued Tower Loans for discrimination. If you're interested in learning more about this case, you can check out how it's going through the Southern Poverty Law Center.