Congress has concluded its first ever hearing on transgender bias in the workplace. The House Committee on Education and Labor's subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by New Jersey Representative Robert E. Andrews (Democrat), heard from several witnesses testifying on the issue.

The historic hearing was Congress' first serious look at the varied issues involved in transgender job discrimination. And representatives from both sides of the political aisle appeared supportive of ending transgender workplace discrimination.

Witnesses at the hearing included the nation's only openly out representatives: Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank (Democrat) and Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin (Democrat).

In her opening remarks Baldwin said, “Hate crimes against transgender people are tragically common.”

Several transgender people shared their stories of employment discrimination. Retired Colonel Diane Schoroer testified that a job offer as a terrorism analyst was quickly rescinded after she reveled to the Library of Congress that she was a transgender person. Schoroer retired from the military after a distinguished career as David Schoroer, even briefing Vice President Dick Cheney on terrorism.

Activist Diego Miguel Sanchez has successfully transgendered to a man. He testified that his path to happiness had often been stifled by prejudice and lamented the loss of trans friends who had tragically taken their own lives.

Questions on the expense and burden that transgender work protections would place on the employer were raised by JC Miller, a partner at Thompson Hine LLP, who stressed we cannot control what people think. And Glen Lavy, Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Marriage Litigation for the Alliance Defense Fund, objected to the principle on the grounds of deeply-held religious beliefs.

Committee members appeared genuinely concerned with the issue of transsexual work bias. Illinois Representative Phil Hare (Democrat) took issue with Lavy's testimony, saying that what Lavy called a “moral judgment” seemed more like a “moral obligation” to him. And subcommittee chairman New Jersey Representative Robert E. Andrews (Democrat) dismissed issues raised by Miller and Lavy by saying the issue was not that complicated.

A Dale Glading (Republican) press release immediately following the hearing blasted Andrews for his support on the issue. “In tough times, we need real leaders who will stand up and fight for the people they represent. Rob Andrews decided instead to pander to yet another special interest group rather than take on the difficult challenges New Jersey families are facing in today's economy.”

Glading also singled out pro-gay group Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) for actively promoting today's hearing.

PFLAG is currently sponsoring a campaign featuring transgender activist/actress Calpernia Addams, titled This Is Our Love Story. The national print campaign sets out to inform on a variety of issues the transgender community faces.

Speaking to On Top Magazine, PFLAG Director of Communications Steve Ralls said today's hearing was long overdue, adding: “Discrimination against transgender Americans is pervasive in our country, and it is imperative that Congress take concrete steps to protect the rights, and stand up for the dignity, of the transgender community... None of us are truly protected under the law until all of us are included in the American ideal of 'liberty and justice for all.'”

On the net: PFLAG's national website can be found at