In fall 2007, Vandy Beth Glenn was a bill editor working beneath the gilded gold dome of the Georgia capitol building. For the past two years, she had been transitioning from life as a man to one as a woman, attending therapy, taking hormones, and often presenting as a woman in her liberal Decatur neighborhood. In her office, though, she was still presenting as a man, albeit a fractured one.
"It reached the point where I couldn't continue to do that anymore. It was more and more cumbersome to have one identity at home and a different identity at work, when you're not a superhero," said Glenn, a former Navy officer. "So I informed my boss of my transition."
The conversation did not go well.
"The man who fired me, Sewell Brumby, told me he was firing me because I was transgender. He didn't pretend he was firing me for another reason. He didn't trump up reasons of poor work performance. He just said, 'No, I'm firing you because you're transitioning,'" she said. "The fact that he felt so safe in doing that just illustrates what a safe climate it seemed to be for the people on the wrong on this issue in October of 2007."
Nearly five years later, Glenn has steamrolled through her savings. She's also burned through her 401k and taken out a second mortgage on her home. But she's won a historic legal case that places her at the forefront of the debate over transgender rights, and could lead to greater protections for transgender people around the country. "If I couldn't convince them that what they did was wrong, I could at least make them see that what they did was illegal," she said. "I was motivated in large part by anger."