Last night, during a segment about American Eagle’s recent decision to reverse policies that banned male employees from wearing women’s clothing and vice versa, Bill O’Reilly compared transgendered people to Ewoks and suggested that they could “scare the customers”:
O’REILLY: They got a little pamphlet that says to their employees you have to dress appropriately, particularly on the floor. You have got to dress neat. If you are a man, you can’t dress like a woman and visa versa. You can’t scare the customers. If your name is Fred, you can’t look like Dolly Parton. Transgender people come in, challenge. American Eagle folds.”
GUEST: Absolutely right. they have got to get that out of there.
O’REILLY: Got to get it out? So if your name is Fred you should be able to dress like Dolly Parton? …If you owned a clothing corporation, you can say you can dress like an Ewok if you want?
In reality, the American Eagle “folded” after Attorney General Andrew Cuomo asked the company to bring its personnel book in compliance with New York law, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis on gender identity. Cuomo made the request after Make the Road New York, a transgendered group, “complained to Cuomo’s office about what it called a pattern of discrimination against transgender job hunters. A probe confirmed the complaints, officials said.”
“This shows me that there’s faith and hope. There might be a domino effect, that’s what I’m hoping for,” said Joi-elle White, 35, a transgender member of the group. The “domino effect” may be much more sudden, of course, if Congress passes the Employer-Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would prohibit public and private employers from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity “as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.”