As part of a series on bullying, KOB 4 News in New Mexico spoke to Jolee Al-Villar, a transgender woman who says she was forced out of her position at the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque by anti-transgender harassment. Jolee served in the Marine Corps and the Texas Air National Guard, and was highly decorated for her service before joining KAFB as a civil engineer. However, when she came out in 2005, she says she was mistreated at work. Jolee has filed a lawsuit against the United States Air Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory at KAFB, alleging that her supervisors made inappropriate comments and physical threats towards her, and that she was unfairly denied promotions. Litigation is currently pending.
During Transgender Awareness Week, it is especially important that media outlets report on stories like Jolee’s. Incidences of anti-transgender bias, discrimination and violence often go unaddressed or are misrepresented, but they occur on a regular basis. Adrien Lawyer, Director of the New Mexico Transgender Resource Center, spoke to KOB 4 about Jolee’s story, saying, “I wish that story was unusual in any of its detail, but it’s not. It’s very common.” The impact of these and other issues facing transgender people are recognized during Transgender Awareness Week, including alarming rates of anti-transgender violence that claims so many lives honored each year on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.