March 03, 2007

Largo, FL: "City of Progress."

Really. Honestly. That's the motto of the City of Largo, which voted on February 27th to fire its City Manager after she announced plans to transition to female.

Susan Stanton - who is identified in most of these stories solely by her birth name, Steve - was, at the time of her firing, a 14-year veteran of the highest seat in Largo's city government, and had served an additional three years as Assistant City Manager. Stanton, who was widely praised as an energetic, capable, and effective leader - and who once sustained a broken nose participating in SWAT team training in order to better understand the needs of the police department - was fired because, in the words of Commissioner Gay Gentry (no, I didn't make that name up),

He [sic] has done serious damage to his [sic] staff. I sense he [sic] has lost his [sic] standing as a leader.

Yup. 'Cause when your boss transitions, you're the victim.

According to Commissioner Mary Black,
I do not feel he [sic] has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the
confidence to continue as the city manager of the city of Largo.

Yup. 'Cause coming out of the closet is such an act of deception.

Some people have also criticized Stanton for
[calling] a press conference to announce his [sic] sex change before
telling his [sic!!!!!] son.

Unfortunately, Ms. Stanton didn't have a choice in the matter. Initially, she had worked out a plan with Mayor Pat Gerard to come out to the city in late May or early June, when her 13-year-old son would be out of school and could be sent off on vacation to shield him from media scrutiny. Before the fateful day, the Stanton family was going to sit down, on their terms, and explain to their son exactly what Susan's transition meant, and how it would affect them as a family. But until then, the only people who know were Stanton's wife, Mayor Gerard, and a few close personal friends.

One of those "close personal friends," however, decided it would be a lark to out Ms. Stanton to the press. So when the St. Petersburg Times came sniffing around, she had to make a statement. She and Mayor Gerard gave an interview to the Times explaining that yes, Stanton was MTF; yes, she was starting medical transition; and no, this had nothing to do with her ability to perform the job. Then she sent the requisite "Hi folks, I'm trans" e-mail to her entire staff.

But that wasn't enough. Apparently, it's not enough to give 17 years of your life (Stanton is only 48, btw) to your city; you also have to give over control of your body, your mind, your gender, and your family life. Silly me. If I ever run for office, I'll have to remember that they're not electing me, they're electing my uterus.

Other choice quotes (just add in the [sic] for me, will you? I'm, er, sic of it.):

Mr. Stanton is not a role model. He's proven that. I think for the sake of our young people today, you need to do what's right, and that's terminate him. ... If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he'd want him terminated. Make no mistake about it.
- Ron Sanders, pastor, Lighthouse Baptist Church of Largo

People talk about being embarrassed. I'll tell you what: I'm going to be embarrassed if we throw this man out on the trash heap after he's worked so hard for the city. ... We have a choice to make: We can go back to intolerance, or we can be the city of progress.
- Mayor Pat Gerard

If you are as enraged as I am about this decision, and especially if you're feeling more coherently rageful than I am, here are a few places to start:

St. Petersburg Times poll: Vote to keep City Manager Stanton

Contact page for the Mayor and City Commission: Express your concern. (Note that Mayor Gentry - the first female mayor of Largo - and Rodney Woods - the first African-American Commissioner - have been standing behind Ms. Stanton. Shocking, right? Anyway, if you want to pass along kudos for them, I'm sure that'd be welcome, too.)

Contact page for the City Manager's office: Express your support for Ms. Stanton. She can probably use it right about now.

More coverage:

The Largo Leader

TroxBlog: commentary by Howard Troxler of


M said...

And the HRC continued its impressive history of trans-inclusiveness, using Susan's birth name and male pronouns in its e-mail update. Wow.

The need for Congress to act quickly on employment legislation couldn't be clearer. Earlier this week, in another example of blatant discrimination, Steve Stanton, the long-time city manager of Largo, Florida was fired by the city after he announced that he would be transitioning from male to female. The city commissioners voted 5-2 to move toward terminating Stanton in spite of Largo's own non-discrimination policy for city employees which covers gender identity. (Go here for more) The 5 commissioners should be ashamed of their bigoted decision.

Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss said...

I think Stanton's got a heck of a lawsuit. I reviewed the law on my blog