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4 hours of supportive
Largo, Fla.--City commissioners completed the process of firing their transgender city manager on March 24, repeating their earlier 5-2 vote to end Steve Stanton’s 14-year career.
The previous day, Stanton spoke to the commission, followed by four hours of public comments, most of which supported keeping the accomplished city manager.
In late February, Stanton made national news after the St. Petersburg Times revealed that she was undergoing hormone therapy, with plans to have sexual reassignment surgery in the summer, when her son would be out of town.
The newspaper had gone to Stanton to confirm rumors of the impending gender reassignment.
The city commission took a vote on February 27 to begin the process of firing of Stanton, and that vote was also 5-2.
While the city does not have an overarching LGBT rights ordinance, it does have a policy in place barring discrimination in municipal employment. Stanton has not said whether she will seek legal remedy for the firing.
Stanton brought in people who had transitioned at work, including former St. Paul, Minnesota deputy mayor Susan Kimberly, who started presenting as female in 1983, and an investment officer who maintained $60 billion in investments while undergoing gender reassignment half a decade ago.
Pinellas County School Board member Linda Lerner was one of many members of the public who spoke in favor of letting Stanton stay, saying it would set a good example for the young people in town.
City commissioners who voted to remove the manager claimed that Stanton had violated the trust of her employees and the commission.
“I will tell you it is not about transgenderism,” Commissioner Gay Gentry said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “It is about making sure that the 1,000 people who work in the city, work in such a way that they can give superior services for the 75,000 people who live in this city. I tried to vote the right way for the right reasons.”
“Without trust, there is no longer a foundation to any relationship,” said Commissioner Andy Guyette, noting that integrity, trust and honesty were the foundations of any relationship.
Both voted at the February 27 and March 24 meetings to fire Stanton.
Around 100 people spoke at the meeting, most from nearby Tampa Bay. Some were transgendered, including a sheriff’s deputy.
Stanton gave her most extensive comments on the situation at the meeting on March 23, including an explanation of why she did not leave and transition out of the view of the public.
“Largo has not been a job to me,” Stanton said. “Largo’s been a passion. One does not just replace one’s passion.”