Emerson Thoenen is a transgender man who today holds down a great job as an insurance salesman, and who has built a home with his supportive girlfriend. Unfortunately, he has also experienced the other side of the coin — facing employment discrimination that ended a career he thought he’d be invested in for years.
Emerson was working as a theater technician at a local high school, assisting in areas like production design, lighting, and sound when he first came out as transgender. Immediately, he faced backlash from the school administration. Even though he’d received glowing reviews from his peers, the school principal claimed that his work product was poor, and that without “serious improvement,” he would be terminated. As the next school year came, Emerson continued to find the principal at odds with him. At the end of the year, he was terminated because, in the words of the principal, his “lifestyle” was unprofessional.
“I had to leave this program that I loved, these students who looked up to me, colleagues that I appreciated and that supported me, all because I simply began to live my truth. All I want are the same opportunities as other people.”