Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Costs of Treatment

This post isn't about the financial cost of the hormones, or the surgery, the mandatory psychiatric and endocrinological tests, nor even the cost of a new wardrobe, or electerolysis for that matter. 400 hours at US $100 an hour for the latter is not unknown, and Facial Feminisation Surgery is around US $40,000 these days. Not covered by insurance, of course.

No, this is about the other costs, as exemplified by the Fine Citizens of Largo, Florida. I quote from the Associated Press, via the Sun-Sentinel :
LARGO, Fla. -- The City Commission of this small Tampa Bay community voted late Tuesday to begin the process of firing the city's top official -- less than a week after he announced plans to pursue a sex-change operation.

The 5-to-2 vote begins a three step process to remove Largo City Manager Steve Stanton, 48, the city's top official for 14 years. He confirmed rumors last week that he was a transsexual.

Stanton, who built a solid reputation as a forceful and energetic leader, hoped to keep his $140,000-a-year job as he underwent the gender reassignment process.

"It's just painful to know seven days ago I was a good guy and now ... I have no integrity," Stanton told the commission Tuesday. "My challenge here has always been that someday I was going to leave this organization. So I am going to do it with a smile on my face."

Stanton can appeal the decision. He will be placed on paid leave while the city begins the legal process to end his contract. The council must vote again to formally fire him.

Mayor Patricia Gerard and Commissioner Rodney Woods cast the dissenting votes Tuesday.

"He's done a great job for us," Gerard said. "He's done what we asked him to do and taken the heat over and over and over again and now we're going to turn on him."

Commissioner Mary Gray Black said Stanton's surprise announcement last week "caused stress, turmoil, distraction and work disruption" in the city. His contract says he can be fired without cause at any time.

"I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager of the city of Largo," said Black, who introduced a resolution to fire Stanton on Monday.

About 500 people attended the 3{ hour special meeting at Largo City Hall on Tuesday to debate Stanton's fate. Dozens of people signed up to speak to the council, some praising Stanton and others saying the exposure of his secret life undermined his ability to lead the city.

City officials have received hundreds of e-mails about Stanton's announcement, most calling for his removal.

Commissioner Gay Gentry praised Stanton, but supported his firing.

"I sense that he has lost his standing as a leader among the employees of the city," Gentry said. "We have need of an organizational leader that employees will follow."

Largo is a city of about 76,000 about 22 miles west of Tampa.

Stanton, who is married, said he has not yet scheduled the surgery, but is undergoing counseling and hormone replacement therapy in preparation for the operation.

The city council had given Stanton generally good reviews for his management of the city's $130-million budget and roughly 1,200 employees. The council gave him an $11,000 annual pay raise in September, with Black casting the lone dissenting vote.

That's what happens to people like us. People like me.

Meanwhile, the Poll at the St Petersberg Times, which has run some editorials very supportive of Stanton, is now running at 3:1 in favour of crucifixion firing her.

Still, 50 years ago, they may have done the same thing if they found she had been "passing for white". Transsexuality - the new Black.

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