Constance Goforth, a former employee of the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service, is claiming discrimination that soon began after she underwent surgery to transition from male to female and has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

During her term of employment with the agency, Goforth held a position as a purchasing agent. In August of 2003, Goforth underwent surgery to become a female after consulting with human resource representatives in her office. According to Goforth, everyone agreed they could “accommodate her transition.” In February of 2004, Constance had her name legally changed and was fully representing herself as a woman. 

Goforth alleges discrimination began to take place soon after her transition. She states her supervisor would not use female pronouns and continued to refer to her as “sir.” 

In September of 2003, Goforth states her supervisor had a conversation with her about her shoes. They discussed her wearing high heals to work. Goforth states her supervisor told her, “If the woman who had your job long before you had worn three inch high-healed shoes, I would have sent her home.”

Goforth’s job involved mostly clerical work in an office environment.  Goforth contends when she did wear heals that her supervisor “had me doing some things that were not comfortable in them.” 

In August of 2005, Goforth contends that a female co-worker refused to use female pronouns when referring to her. Goforth states, “I had previously asked this person not to refer to me with male pronouns.” Goforth alleges, “she even did it one time in front of my supervisor.” 

In one particular instance, Goforth states she “overheard this individual saying to my supervisor, not in defiance, but in conversation that she did not have to say ‘yes m’am’’ to a ‘faggot.’” Goforth contends the supervisor never stopped this behavior and the two seemed to be rather close. Furthermore, Goforth alleges her supervisor agreed with the co-worker’s statement.

Goforth also alleges that in August of 2005 her supervisor called her into the office to discuss her shoes once again. She says her supervisor believed it to be a safety issue. Goforth contends that she told her supervisor, “I can run across busy intersections in the shoes. That is just my preference.”

Goforth alleges the supervisor stated, “I don’t give a damn what your preference is!”  Her supervisor mentioned that sneakers would be fine and pointed to his sneakers. 

Goforth then states her supervisor instructed her to type a memo. The memo was to state that she would not wear the particular shoes she had been wearing.  She was then to sign it.  Goforth claims she told her supervisor, “I would like to call my Human Resource Counselor first.”  The supervisor’s alleged response was, “I want you to sit down at your workstation, type your memo and sign it.  Don’t get up until you finish.” 

According to Goforth, her supervisor then took a break and she called her Human Resource counselor.  After her supervisor returned, Goforth states that she presented the signed memo. 

The supervisor questioned whether or not she had made any phone calls. Goforth stated that she had called her human resource counselor. According to Goforth, the supervisor then exclaimed, “In that case, I am going to write you up for insubordination.” 

Goforth argues that, “during parts of the conversation, [her supervisor] was raising [their] voice and swearing. Had I not known any better, I would have thought that I had met Satan in the flesh on this day.” Goforth contended that a dress code policy was non-existent in her workplace. She believes her supervisor singled her out.

Later that day, Goforth checked into a hotel room and claims she tried to commit suicide. She says she overdosed on sleeping pills and blacked out for a day. Goforth was then transferred to the psychiatric ward at Vanderbilt Hospital where she stayed for eight days. According to Goforth, she did not return to work out of fear of the office environment. In September of 2005, Constance resigned from her position. 

Goforth learned earlier this year she could file an EEOC complaint as a former employee. In February, she did so. Goforth states that her EEOC complaint was dismissed because she did not file the complaint within a “timely manner.”  According to Goforth, she has a right to appeal that decision and plans to do so. When asked if she had sought legal representation, Goforth stated, “I simply don’t have enough money to pay for a lawyer.” 

Goforth says she hopes to once again work for the federal government but in a “healthy” work environment. She claims she never once received an unfavorable performance review prior to the transition.  According to Goforth, she just "wants to be heard."

O&AN will update readers as new developments in this complaint become available. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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