Florida town finalizes firing of pre-op transgender city manager

Anthony Cuesta | March 26, 2007

TAMPA, Florida — City commissioners in Largo, Fla. finalized the firing of a city manager Saturday who plans to have a sex change operation.

After a six-hour hearing, the commissioners decided to fire 48-year-old Steve Stanton after his announcement that he planned a new life as a woman, reports the Associated Press.

The commission voted 5-2 last month to suspend him without pay, despite pleas from dozens of impassioned supporters to save his job.

Joined by his lawyer, specialists and successful transgender people, Stanton asked Largo's seven city commissioners to look past gender issues and judge him on his accomplishments in 14 years as Largo's top bureaucrat.

"I'm asking you to realize I'm still the same person today that I was four weeks ago. I'm asking you to judge me on my qualifications and performance and the fact that this organization is the best-run organization in Pinellas County," said Stanton, 48, reports the Florida Ledger.

The AP reports that Stanton was being fired because they lost confidence in him, not because he wants to be a woman.

�I think we're pretty well convinced,� Commissioner Gay Gentry told the AP. �You have to believe us, you have to trust us, it is not about transgenderism.�

Stanton, 48, triggered the debate in the city of 76,000 west of Tampa last month when he announced his plans at a news conference. Commissioners said Stanton's announcement caused turmoil and work disruption in the city. His contract says he can be fired without cause at any time. Stanton has not decided if he will sue over the firing.

�I was optimistic, but I knew it would be very difficult to slow down the train,� he said to the AP following the hearing.

Most of more than 70 other speakers – - including gay and lesbian activists and transgender people – spoke passionately in favor of Stanton.

Stanton planned to announce the change this summer. But a St. Petersburg Times reporter learned his secret and he was forced to come out at a City Hall press conference on Feb. 21. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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