Being the victim of constant ridicule from his fellow workers for wearing women’s pants, a man named Sanchez working for the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT), decided to rely on the law and file a “recurso amparo (appeal) with the Constitutional Court.
The appeal challenging his employer’s rules prohibiting him from wearing women’s clothes is closely watched,
Sanchez is not in an office job, but working as a “bacheador” filling in potholes with asphalt.
“While work has a dress code, he must follow the rules”, the worker said that, although he was aware that be must be protected against the hot asphalt and traffic by wearing pants, a bright orange vest, helmet and boots, he says in his complaint that he was reprimanded for wearing women’s slacks.
The case and the Court decision resounded Friday the hallways of the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman), saying there could be a case of discrimination if the Sanchez is identified as a transexual in his “cedula” and the MOPT hired him as such.
At the Ministry of Labour (Ministerio de Trabajo), Minister Olman Segura said, “we have to see that background, if the man wants to go to work in heels, for instance, it is illogical for it to be allowed. The employer is the one who sets the dress code and the worker must respect it”.
In his Court filing, Sanchez says he wants to be accepted as a “transexual” and not a man, hence feels it is inappropriate to be forced to be dressed as such (as a man).
His fellow workers, at the Alajuela plant, have filed a complaint with the Labour ministry because they feel uncomfortable with the situation. The complaint is pending a hearing.
Sergio Hidalgo, senior officer at the MOPT, told CRHoy.com that Sanchez was hired in July 2009, is a good worker and has not had any problems with him. Hidalgo confirmed that Sanchez was hired as a man, as indicated on his identification and not as “Wendy Vanessa Sanchez”, as he is commonly known.
“I was born in the San Juan de Dios hospital on November 3, 1960, at 3:10am. See how I accurate I am”, he told Amelia Rueda with a smile.
In the interview with the radio personality, Wendy relates his/her story of getting up at 4am to start work at 6am, work that includes handling boiling asphalt until 3pm.
“I am a Josefina (from San José). I grew up in Cinco Esquinas de Tibás, the oldest of four brothers. My father abandoned us when I was five, he took everything. Don’t know why he took even my clothes”, Wendy tells her story.
“I was about 4 or 5 when I put for the first time my mother’s bloomers. She was not the cuddling type. She gave me a horrible beating.
“When I was in school, third or fourth grade, a school friend named Sandra Zamora gave me one her blouses. I was so very happy, because I knew it was woman’s clothing, they button up in reverse.
“At 7 or 8 years old, I liked wearing jeans like she did. As kids we would go down to the pond and I always had my jeans on. She did not know. She would have killed me if she had found out!
“What has been most difficult is to be in a body that I don’t belong.
“My sex. I would prefer to live one second as a woman than a million years as a man”.
Asked what she expects to get out of her appeal, “to be left to be a woman. That is what I want”.