Social Question

janbb's avatar

Should some jobs be restricted by gender? (Please read details.)

Asked by janbb (58348points) April 11th, 2011

Please read this article before answering. I think it will be a landmark case. Do you think there are jobs that only men or women should do? What about transgender people as in this case? Should they have the right to a restricted job? What is a man or woman?

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51 Answers

Facade's avatar

It’s really no one’s business what gender a person identifies with. This man should not have been fired. I think it’s unnecessary to restrict certain jobs to certain genders.

iamthemob's avatar

(1) There are definitely some jobs that only a man or a woman can do, and more where gender is a consideration that is valid in whether the person can do the job (but is not determinative), but those are very rare.

(2) Whether or not a person who is transgendered doesn’t really affect, for me, how they should be treated as to (1) – they should be treated as the gender that they are living as, not what they were born with.

What’s interesting in this case is that the gender-based discrimination is based on, most likely, a concern about sexual harassment lawsuits. This isn’t about whether this person can do the job, but rather what would happen in a case where someone who was a subject would attempt to sue based on a misinterpretation or a perceived opportunity to take advantage of the system.

Not to generalize, but this is probably a real fear in their industry. They deal with drug addicts who are, as addicts, opportunists. Their patients are potentially of a highly sensitive nature, and therefore it is their potential reactions that seem to be the concern, and not a prejudice against the employee.

Seelix's avatar

I think that in the case you linked to, it shouldn’t matter. The man in question is legally identified as male in all cases; whether he was born with male or female sexual organs should not be an issue.

As for whether sex should be a determining factor in some jobs, I’m not too sure about that. I think I’ll wait to see what some others have to say before I weigh in. At this point I can’t think of any jobs which should only be done by a man or a woman, but I’m interested to see what others have to say.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Did you just steal that from my FB page? :), I was going to ask a question about this article today but I’m glad you did. My answer is, of course, no.

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Of course I didn’t; I wouldn’t dare! :-) I read it in the Times.

tinyfaery's avatar

To answer the question, yes. I don’t want a male attendant at the spa where I walk around naked.

About being transgendered, well, that’s just dumb. The guy is a guy. Says so on his birth certificate.

filmfann's avatar

Would it matter if the man watching another man urinate was gay? I would be more self conscious of that, than a transgender man, who isn’t sexually attracted to men watching me pee.
When I had my vasectomy, I was “prepared for surgery” by a gay man, and it did make an uncomfortable moment a little more uncomfortable.

tinyfaery's avatar

And that’s what you call homophobia. You ain’t all that.

iamthemob's avatar

My problem the more that I think about this question is that it’s phrased a bit more broadly than it should be, I think, in terms of the particular issue in the article.

This isn’t a job that is restricted by gender unless we restrict the description in a manner so that it becomes restricted. The job can be done by either a man or a woman, but they use one gender for one type of patient and the other for the other type.

For instance, Hooters won a suit allowing them to not hire men in their restaurants as waitresses. This seemed utterly valid since they had built a brand on a certain type of customer who expected a certain type of service.

We often accept either as a practical reality or as an actual right certain discriminatory hiring practices more when we are dealing with discrimination not based on whether an individual can do a job using race, gender, etc. as a proxy but rather when it is clearly the case that the consumer or user of the service would reasonably prefer or trust, etc., a person of one race, gender, etc. in general.

It’s a gray area a lot of the time, but it seems more problematic to regulate or legislate.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann I am finding hard to justify your discomfort or a possible ‘solution’ to same – should a physician really inform you of his sexuality just in case this irrelevant to his job characteristic might make you uncomfortable? That’s kind of all kinds of ridiculous, imo

filmfann's avatar

I am not saying it is right or wrong. I am saying it made me uncomfortable, but I did not ask for a different nurse.
It isn’t homophobia if I am simply uncomfortable with it.
Why, exactly, would you feel self-conscious if a guy looked at your naked body?

and i never said I was all that

jaytkay's avatar

Is this case too odd to set a precedent? It strikes me that way.

The combination of circumstances seems kind of unlikely to me. I would imagine in most cases nobody would have known his history, there would be no firing and no controversy.

flutherother's avatar

Yes, some jobs should be restricted by gender. In this particular case I can understand why the company were not keen to employ El’Jai. (I mean I take it he is human, though he sounds like someone from the planet Krypton). I’m sure he can do the job as well as anyone else, there isn’t very much to it after all, but there are sensitivities involved and I think we would all expect the company hiring to take that into account.

filmfann's avatar

Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Do you think there are people who just love to watch other people urinate?

flutherother's avatar

Is ‘taking the piss’ also an American expression?

syz's avatar

I don’t think you should restrict jobs by gender. I am female, and have been examined and treated by doctors and nurses of both genders. What would be the basis for specifying having your sample collected only by someone of the same sex? Are you also going to specify that they be strictly heterosexual? Will you have them tested on the Kinsey scale? No bisexuals allowed?

Assuming appropriate training, I think the position could be completed by either gender.

And in reference to the case discussed in the article, the individual in question identifies as male, is legally recognized as male – how could he possibly be fired?

Mariah's avatar

I would assume that the “male only” requirement for this job is to keep the patients from feeling uncomfortable. Since they’d have no way of knowing that El’Jai was born physically female, how on earth could it matter in this case?

bob_'s avatar

No. If the person can do the job, that’s it. It seems pretty evident that this dude was unfairly fired.

If @filmfann has homophobia, does @tinyfaery have man-o-phobia? ~

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@flutherother And the sensitivity of the transman in question is somehow less worthy than of those who need to be more sensitive?

filmfann's avatar

@flutherother Yes. Taking a piss means urinating. Getting pissed means becoming mad.

I realize getting pissed means getting drunk in England.

flutherother's avatar

@filmfann Taking the piss as opposed to ‘a piss’ has a different meaning in the UK it seems.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – of course I think your question is valid, and the answer should be no – in fact, there shouldn’t be any concerns about sensitivity on the patient’s end. In all seriousness, I can’t wait until we’ve shrugged off the last of our puritanical concerns about sex – and get to the point where we really do understand that clinical or casual interactions between men and women that are specifically outside the purpose of sex are just that.

But, looking at it from the perspective of someone hiring and employing in this situation, they are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. They can (1) risk a lawsuit from a particularly sensitive patient (which, again, when you’re dealing with addicts, is much more likely), or (2) risking a discrimination suit from the employee.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Thing is, this issue only exists because of a deeply ingrained and long-standing taboo on all things remotely sexual in this country. Unfortunately, this has an impact on a lot of jobs and situation which, in my opinion, is just silly. However, until that issue is resolved, things like this will come up and continue to bite people in the ass.

So, no, I do not think that gender should be a factor when hiring people for certain jobs but it will remain to be a factor until this deep, nasty sexual taboo is gone.

cockswain's avatar

@flutherother I’ve never set foot in the UK, but I love the phrase ‘taking the piss.’ I say it to people, and they have no clue how to respond. “Are you taking the piss? Are you taking the piss out of me?” So hard to keep a straight face.

flutherother's avatar

@cockswain It’s a very common phrase over here. It has a nice aggressive edge to it. I don’t know how you manage without it in the States.

tinyfaery's avatar

@bob_ I’ll let my myriad of past boyfriend’s know that.

downtide's avatar

First, no I don’t think any job should be restricted by gender.

Second, if this guy had been working in the UK it would have been illegal to fire him for this reason (but only since 2002). I really hope he takes this further. After all he’s legally male in every way and… argh. This sort of thing frustrates me so much.

seekingwolf's avatar

A couple of jobs (like spa attendants for one sex, massage therapists, etc) have gender be an important part (Would you like a male massage therapist or a female one?) and thus, transgendered people should probably not be hired for those.

For the vast majority of jobs though, it really doesn’t matter.

However, it’s silly to think that ALL (100%) of jobs would be open to them. I’m sorry, I want a female massage therapist, not a male one, and not a transgendered one. So sue me.

syz's avatar

@seekingwolf You are assuming that you would know that you have a transgender individual working on you. Unless you check for XX or XY and then compare that to a drivers license (or your assumption), why would you have any idea?

seekingwolf's avatar

@syz

I wouldn’t know. And honestly, it’s not about knowing. I would just prefer a female massage therapist. I think it’s deceitful if I ask for a female one (which, is implied in the natural sense) and get a transgendered one because “oh the client won’t know the difference”. That makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe next time I go get a massage, I’ll asked for a non-transgendered female, just to be quite clear.

Again, nothing wrong with trannies. It’s just about my comfort level. Since professional massages are quite expensive and also revealing, I don’t think it’s out of place to request a specific gender who is going to be seeing/touching my naked body in a room for 2 hours.

downtide's avatar

@seekingwolf This part… “A couple of jobs (like spa attendants for one sex, massage therapists, etc) have gender be an important part (Would you like a male massage therapist or a female one?)”…I agree with.

This part… “and thus, transgendered people should probably not be hired for those.” I don’t.

There is absolutely no way anyone would have known about Mr Devoreau’s trans status if his employer hadn’t forced him out of the closet about it. You cannot tell that a transman isn’t a natural man, once he’s been on hormones for 3–4 years and has had surgery. Well okay if he strips totally naked you could probably tell; the lower surgery is never that good and the top surgery leaves scars. But I’m pretty sure that Mr Devoreau was never required to strip naked for his job.

syz's avatar

@seekingwolf You’re missing the point of transgender, though. A transgender person may have been born a female (for example), but he self identifies male, believes himself to be male, lives as a male, and sometimes has had hormonal and surgical procedures performed so that his physical appearance matches his gender status. If you prefer a male masseuse, you would have a male masseuse in every sense of the word except that he happened to have been born with female genitalia.

seekingwolf's avatar

@downtide

As long as the massage company wants to disclose his transgendered status to the clients, who may want a “natural” male or female, then I don’t see a problem with it.

Like I said, it’s only for some jobs, not all. In the case of massage therapists (unlike most jobs) the gender issue is a sensitive one. Not everyone thinks that transgendered people are “natural” and not everyone wants one rubbing their body for whatever reason. They have a right to say “no, thank you” to that.

Seelix's avatar

I don’t think it would ever be an issue, because the transman wouldn’t have to disclose his transgendered status to his employer, anyway.

seekingwolf's avatar

@syz

I understand what a transgender person is.

In my case, I would want a female massage therapist. No, I don’t want one that was born with male genitalia. I have every right to say “no” to that. I don’t have to be all PC and force myself to be comfortable with it, nor do I have to explain my reasons for not wanting it. I just don’t want that particular gender/gender identity to be rubbing my naked body. Period.

I know some other people who feel the same way so I know I’m not alone in this. Maybe I’m horrifically insensitive…don’t really care. I just don’t want a transgendered person touching my naked body. Is that a lot to ask for? I’ll just be sure to ask for a “non transgendered female” next time to eliminate any ambiguity.

downtide's avatar

I’m just baffled as to why it matters what genitals a massage therapist was born with however-many-umpteen years ago that was.

Unless it’s the sort of “massage therapist” that doesn’t actually do massage at all, and you’re just terrified that someone might think it makes you gay.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

seekingwolf's avatar

@downtide

Oh please, I’m a bisexual female. My first romantic and sexual experiences with people in general were with females, not males. I’m at all worried about anything in that regard.

I’m not into the “happy endings” massages. Like I said, I just don’t feel comfortable having a transgendered person massage my naked body. I have every right to not feel comfortable and frankly, I don’t feel like I have to explain myself. It may not matter to you but it does matter to me. And as a paying customer for an expensive, 2 hour massage, I do think I have the right to say that I want a natural-born female to massage my nude body. Sorry out there to all the trans-gendered massage therapists. I’m sure they will find other clients but not me. I don’t owe them anything.

iamthemob's avatar

@seekingwolf – Everyone has their personal preferences – I’m just wondering where the difference is between one who is born a woman and one who is not if there is no noticeable physical difference.

prolificus's avatar

I vote for a genderless society in which all professionals act professionally. Laws and regulations cannot dictate thoughts, feelings, attractions, etc., but they can set behavioral boundaries with clear consequences. I wouldn’t want any person, regardless of gender identity or expression, to have access to my privacy unless he/she/ze was ( a ) qualified for the job, ( b ) licensed, if applicable to the job, and ( c ) able to perform the job in such a way that treated me with dignity and respect.

Seelix's avatar

@prolificus – Great answer. Lurve to you for that one. I, too, would love to see that happen. In a perfect world…

weeveeship's avatar

As long as the person is able to carry out the duties of the position, I don’t see how the person’s gender is relevant.

rooeytoo's avatar

In that article, I was intrigued by the fact that female nurses are legally “given preference” over males for jobs in maternity wards. And yet for many years, perhaps still, the ob/gyns were practically all males. And for most of those years as well, nurses were predominantly female so probably have been watching men pee in containers anyhow.

I have always believed that anyone who is qualified to do a job should have an equal opportunity to get the job. End of story, if someone doesn’t want to pee in a cup in front of a transgendered man, go somewhere else to pee in your cup. I wonder if this was a private or tax payer funded drug treatment facility. If it is govt funded it would seem even more unjustified to me. But we must be PC so we wouldn’t want to upset a poor disengaged addict now would we!

everephebe's avatar

I dunno, but I’ve had both women and men “watch” me pee into a cup.
I don’t think too many people get a kick out of it, except maybe people like R Kelly?
Maybe some jobs require a specific gender but… I can’t think of any off hand.
I do have my own preferences, but as far as requirements go… meh.

And as far as transgendered people go, it’s really none of anyone’s business unless your… um, dating them or… you know, having sex with them. Then it’s probably something you want to know rather than being surprised later. In my opinion.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I really want to say no, jobs shouldn’t be restricted by gender but I fear that would make me a hypocrit as, for a few years I requested to only see female doctors. It wasn’t that I didn’t think a male doctor was good enough at the job but because I wanted the sensitivity that I felt a woman would be better at when it came to my situation. Obviously I didn’t/don’t think that only females should be hired as doctors though!

I don’t agree that the man in this article should have been fired and I hope he takes this further also. If someone identifies as a gender, so much so that they have surgery to make them physically that gender, as well as getting legal records changed etc then that’s the gender the person is. I don’t care what genitals they were born with.

cockswain's avatar

I prefer massages by females as well. Just kind of got a hang up about it I guess.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain – would you care if it was a transgendered woman if you couldn’t tell the difference without her telling you (imagine finding out later).

bob_'s avatar

@iamthemob For some reason, people do seem to care, as exemplified by this episode of The Simpsons:

Chuck Garabedian: You gotta squeeze every penny. You see this tux? I got it cheap cause Roy Cohn died in it.

Crowd: Ooh!

Chuck: That fancy yacht? A bargain cause it smells like cat pee.

Crowd: Ooooh!

Chuck: And those beautiful women? They used to be men.

Crowd: Eeew!

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob Yeah, I’d be fine with that. I’m actually sort of ashamed to admit I feel this way. I just do.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think there is a big difference between preferring that one gender/sex perform a personal service such as doctor or massage therapist and saying that only one gender/sex should do it. Like @Leanne1986, I would prefer a female doctor in certain circumstances, such as going for a pap smear or even giving birth because a female doctor would know everything that I’m feeling and going through physically. That having been said, I would have no problem with a post-op transsexual man performing my pap smear because, even though he might be male now, he used be female and thus would have experience with the female reproductive organs that a natural born male would not.

rooeytoo's avatar

I guess the point is if you are paying the bill you may choose whomever you want to do the job. That is why I was curious if it was a government funded institution. If so, then you take what you get. That is pretty much what publicly funded health care is, you take what is offered.

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