- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - A transgender woman has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a Seattle-based blood bank, saying she was fired after changing her donor profile to female to match her reissued birth certificate.

In the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District court in Tacoma, Stephanie Binschus alleges Bloodworks Northwest treated her differently than other employees even though she made sure the company was fully aware of her transition.

A long-time donor to the organization formerly known as the Puget Sound Blood Center before her transition and before becoming an employee, Binschus was accused of falsifying her donor record after the organization changed its policy on gender identification, according to her attorney, Jillian T. Weiss.

“I think It’s important for employers to understand that a transgender woman is a woman. Whatever they may have been thinking about who she is, according to the state of Washington, she is a female,” Weiss said. “To be fired because she says so is a violation.”

David A. Larsen, a spokesman for Bloodworks, said the organiztaion could not comment on matters under litigation.

According to the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission, discrimination complaints from transgender individuals still represent a minority of gender identity and sexual orientation complaints but they have been increasing. More than 200 federal complaints were filed in fiscal 2014, which ended in March 2015.

Between being hired in October 2013 as a blood collection specialist in Silverdale, Washington, and fired in February 2014, Binschus alleges in the lawsuit her fellow employees made Bloodworks an uncomfortable place to work.

She was told to remove books and pamphlets related to gender identity from the office because a co-worker considered them controversial. She was accused of letting her advocacy interfere with her work. And she was referred to as “his/her” in an email from a superior, according to the lawsuit.

She also believes she was treated differently than other non-transgender employees when the organization disciplined her for a violation of procedure by firing her instead of a reprimand.

The lawsuit is asking for retraining of blood bank staff on issues related to sex discrimination and monetary damages for loss of income, humiliation and damage to her reputation.

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