A transgender woman who was fired by her employer, a China e-commcerce site, after having gender reassignment surgery has won her case in a Beijing court. An appeal against a 2019 decision in her favor was dismissed in January, but news of the ruling has only this week began circulating on Chinese social media.
The woman, going by the name Ms Gao, first began her legal battle in late 2018 after she was let go from China’s e-commerce platform Dangdang following a company-approved leave of absence in which she undertook gender reassignment surgery.
After being hired as a product manager at the company in 2015, Ms Gao took roughly two months off for her surgery in the summer of 2018. Her employment contract was, however, terminated by Dangdang before she was fully recovered and able to return to work, with the company citing reasons of Gao’s absence and “mental health”.
In a termination letter, Dangdang described Gao as having “mental disorders” and claimed her colleagues would feel “terrified, uneasy, and awkward” around her, adding that neither male or female employees were happy with her using their bathrooms.
Gao took Dangdang to court for unfair dismissal on the grounds of sex discrimination four months later. A Beijing court ruled in her favor in 2019, ordering Dangdang to rehire Gao and pay her overdue salary. The ruling stated that Dangdang must recognize Gao’s new gender indignity and allow her to use the female staff bathrooms.
Dangdang immediately appealed the decision, but found their appeal dismissed in the latest ruling, with the court making a strong statement in support for China’s trans community. “We respect and vow to protect the dignity and legal rights of transgender people. Our attitude is based on our respect for individuals’ dignity and legal rights,” the court said, adding that the Chinese public still has a long way to go in regards to being more open-minded about gender identities.
News of the case has garnered much interest and debate on Chinese social media, with a related hashtag gaining more than 3.6 million views on Weibo, according to SupChina.
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Keywords: Transgender woman wins court battle China
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