Woman Says Workplace Gossip Ruined Her Life

Some think gossip on the job is a harmless way to pass the time while working.

But a local woman said gossip about her became so hurtful that she needed to turn to Harry Hairston and the NBC 10 Investigators.

The woman said what hurts the most about the gossip is that it started after she told management about a very personal secret.

She said the humiliation reminded her of some of her darkest days.

"I've cut my wrists. I've hung myself, or attempted to hang myself, and I OD'd," the woman said.

She doesn't want you to know who she is. But she does want you to understand her pain. After surviving those darkest moments from years ago she said she finds herself again fragile and distraught.

"If people knew exactly what this did to us I don't think they would be as hard on us."

To protect her identity, you will know her as Emily. But to tell the truth about her, you must know, she is really a female trapped in a man's body.

"I don't like being known as a trans-person because I don't feel like a trans-person. I feel I'm a woman," Emily said, adding that she was made to feel less than human at her job.

Emily worked at a Crayola warehouse in Fredericksburg as a forklift operator. She said the abuse began shortly after she started.

She described, "People spitting on my forklift, on the seat, etc. ... And I had somebody write a note, 'fags burn in hell.'"

Emily said she never told her co-workers about her sex change. But she claims the human relations disclosed the fact that she's a transgender.

"HR had let the supervisors know about my condition, in case any problems arise," Emily said.

Ironically, Emily said the problems started with a supervisor.

"My supervisor started referring to me as cowboy, sport, slick, slugger, dude," she said.

Emily told Hairston the ultimate insult came five months later. She said the company criticized her job performance and fired her for low productivity.

"They basically sabotaged her work environment," said Emily's attorney, Sid Gold.

Gold said he plans to sue Crayola for discrimination.

"We're alleging that they basically discriminated against her because of her sexual identity," the attorney said. "It should be of no consequence to any employer as to what someone's sexual identity is."

Hairston went to Crayola for comment, but the general manager refused. He would only confirm Emily's employment dates.

Also, top administrators at Crayola's corporate headquarters didn't comment.

As MSNBC pointed out in a recent documentary, transgender persons face similar employment problems nationwide.

Psychologist Dr. Nicole Lipkin said the issue of transgender at the workplace is small but growing.

"About 10,000 people a year go through the transitional process … here in the United States," Lipkin said.

The psychologist has advice for employers.

"Be aware of how you're feeling. Be aware of the prejudices you might have. Be aware of the questions you might have," Lipkin said.

But Emily said she just wants society to be aware of one thing: "We are no different than anybody else in society. It's just we are born in the wrong body."

Although Crayola has not responded, Emily did say her employer told her co-workers not to insult or abuse her. But Emily said that caused even more problems.

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