In My Own Words: Cori McCreery
By Cori McCreery
When I was fired from my job at Don’s Valley Market because I am transgender, it shook me.
I got my first job when I was 15 years old, and worked all throughout high school. As long as I can remember, I’ve always thought it was important to work and make a living. As soon as I could, I wanted to support myself. Asking for help isn’t something I do very easily, and so I worked and earned my own living throughout college, too.
At Don’s Valley Market, I was a very good employee – in fact, I had just been promoted and given a raise. I had known the owner for years; in fact, I had worked for him for four years at a different grocery store he owned back in 2000 to 2004. So, when he initially told me it was ok for me to come to work as my true self, I trusted that. I had already been living as a woman in every other aspect of life, and to go to work as someone else was not something I could deal with anymore. Working is so important to me, and being at there as myself was something I needed.
The day is a little foggy from the shock, but I remember being told that I was “making other employees uncomfortable” and “what would moms think?” I didn’t know what to do. I trusted my boss, liked my job, I needed the pay check and I felt like my safety net had just been pulled out from underneath me. That was definitely a day when I knew I needed help.
Thankfully I have a close-knit and supportive family, as well as a tight group of friends. I talked it out with them, and immediately got to job hunting. Within a week, I got a different job at Target, and even though I didn’t think of it as a permanent solution, I was hired openly as a transgender woman. What a relief it was to be working somewhere that already had policies in place for hard working employees like me!
Not long after I was fired, I called my best friend from high school. He was one of the first people I came out to as transgender, and I needed his advice. He recommended that I call Lambda Legal’s help desk, and I’m so glad I did. Lambda Legal guided me through my options and they informed me that trans people are protected against workplace discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates complaints on behalf of trans people like me, and working with Lambda Legal, I filed a complaint with the EEOC.
I’m thrilled that we’ve reached a settlement and that this terrible chapter in my life has helped make a difference for all transgender employees. With Lambda Legal’s help, as well as vital support from my nearest and dearest: Ashley Bob, Mercé Mueller, Jamie Goehring, Dusty Goehring, Lunora Hanson, Nick Van Asma, Dan Lennon, Ashley Kieffer, Carl Holloman, Ben Baughman and Holly Baughman. I’ve gotten through one of the most difficult times in my life and I can now look forward and focus on my future.
These days, I work full-time for a major airline, and they are another company that has policies in place to protect transgender employees. I enjoy it, and even though I’ve only been working there for about a year, I’ve already gotten a small promotion! With this job, I am happy and comfortable in my native home of Rapid City, South Dakota.
I'm thrilled that with Lambda Legal’s help, we've reached a settlement, and that I can now look forward and focus on my future. Don's Valley Market is giving me a letter of apology, letter of recommendation, and is required to train their staff on workplace protections. And my case will be on public notice at EEOC as a message to business owners -- this terrible chapter in my life will help make a difference for transgender employees across the country.
I hope no one ever has to go through what I went through and I’m so thankful I reached out for help when I needed it. Maybe if someone out there is going through something similar, they will read about what happened to me and ask for help too.