Transgender faculty member files discrimination lawsuit against - WNEM TV 5

Transgender faculty member files discrimination lawsuit against university

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A faculty member at a Mid-Michigan university has filed a sex discrimination suit against the college.

Char Davenport, English professor at Saginaw Valley State University, claims she was fired from her administrative position at Saginaw Valley State University for being transgender.

The lawsuit said Davenport was fired after she told her supervisor she was transgender and began presenting herself as a woman during fall 2013. Davenport was the assistant to the director of Academic Programs Support at the time.

"I had a job. I came out as transgender. And then I didn't have a job," Davenport said.

Prior to 2013, Davenport presented as a man and went by Charlie Davenport, according to Davenport's attorney.

In a press release sent by Davenport's attorney, the supervisor eliminated Davenport's position and told her "You disgust me."

Davenport filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the university on April 8, 2016.

"Discrimination against people who don't conform to traditional gender stereotypes is a form of sex discrimination under the law. No human being should be vilified and denigrated the way Char was by her supervisor, let alone lose their job because of who they are," said Jennifer Salvatore, Davenport's attorney.

SVSU Director of Media and Community Relations J.J. Boehm has released the following statement: 

We are aware of the lawsuit and we are confident that we will prevail in court, as all the facts come out. SVSU does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.

We support all our students, faculty and staff, including those who are members of the LGBT community. We have a Pride Center on campus to serve those individuals and to contribute toward an inclusive campus environment.

Since this is pending litigation, we can have no further comment at this time.

SVSU is denying the allegations and maintains they don't allow discrimination of any kind.

Davenport said she can't talk about those statements without choking up. 

"Some of those you already know. I'm not really comfortable repeating what those comments are," Davenport said.

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, Davenport hopes it helps bring awareness issues facing the transgender community.

"I hope this begins a discussion in our communities," Davenport said.

See the complaint below:

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