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Transgender youth loses job after one day

Employer says reason is slow business
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Hired and fired in the same day, one Lincoln youth says her transgender status resulted in losing a Massage Envy job. But according to S & C Therapy, Inc. president Christine Ambrecht, that?s not the case. Ambrecht said S & C Therapy owns the Lincoln Massage Envy. Andrew Hawkins, 19, is a male-to-female transgender who has not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery. Hawkins, who prefers to go by the name ?Ariel,? said she was hired on April 24 by Massage Envy to wave a sign on the corner of G Street and Gateway Drive. Another job duty was to distribute fliers advertising the business. ?I did apply as Andrew and always do,? Hawkins said. ?Legally, I have not changed my name and legally, I always have to put down Andrew.? Hawkins said she went in on April 24 to fill out paperwork for her new job and then was given a tour. ?I was supposed to work the 26th, 27th and 28th,? Hawkins said. ?Those were going to be my first three days working.? After touring the clinic and completing the hiring process, Hawkins said, she asked to speak with the manager ?and if I could tell her anything.? ?The steps for that day were to make sure she physically says to my face that I have the job and gather evidence that I had the job,? Hawkins said. ?My second checkpoint was some time in that career or timeline of having that job, because I already knew I had the job, the sooner the better but most likely sooner to get it (her transgender status) off my chest.? Hawkins said she received a call from Massage Envy?s manager four and a half hours later that day, telling her she ?wouldn?t be needed on the first shift and we have replaced you with another candidate with the company?s best interest in mind.? ?The conversation on the phone lasted 30 seconds. It was so quick,? Hawkins said. ?It was unexpected and shocking for me.? On April 27, Hawkins said, she received a letter from Massage Envy that included two checks, one for $14.94 and the other for $96. Hawkins said the letter stated that the checks received were ?final checks paying you for all of the hours you worked.? Hawkins said the letter stated that Massage Envy ?terminated your employment in the best interest of the company? but ?should this position become available for you again, you are welcome to apply.? Ambrecht provided a statement to The News Messenger on May 4 via e-mail, which stated, ?The clinic?s original plan was to hire two sign spinners. Two candidates who were qualified were selected. However, by the time of hiring, business had declined and we could only afford one. After evaluating the skill sets of the two candidates as well as the economic circumstances, we retained the person we determined would best fulfill the requirements of the position.? Ambrecht included in the e-mail that ?this is our statement and we will not be providing any further comment.? The News Messenger asked Hawkins for her response to Massage Envy?s statement on why she was let go. ?I?m really kind of unsure on whether or not I could fully believe that (explanation for why her position was terminated) but I also see that being possible as well,? Hawkins said. ?What still confuses me is the money they had sent to me because there was no training involved and I never worked a single minute.? Laura Nielsen, who first approached The News Messenger with what had happened to Hawkins, said she ?doesn?t believe it? after hearing why Hawkins was terminated from her Massage Envy position. Nielsen?s daughter and son were Hawkins? classmates at Lincoln High School. Nielsen also knew Hawkins when Hawkins dated a high school band member ?when he was Andrew? and Nielsen was ?a band mom.? ?Over time, I became aware of what was going on and I wrote to her and said you have my support and we?ve developed a friendship,? Nielsen said. ??I was really proud of her to come out and to be brave enough to share everything with people.? Nielsen said it ?made me angry? about what happened between Hawkins and Massage Envy. ?I don?t believe it. It just does not sound like a skill-set issue,? Nielsen said. ?The thing that gets me is she was hired and then told not to come in, and to me, that just seems a little odd. But I?m not them. I can?t say for sure but I have my own suspicions.? Hawkins said she plans to contact an attorney to see if she has a legal case. Life not easy for Hawkins Her mother ?requires that I apply for two to three jobs a day or she will kick me out of her house,? according to Hawkins. ?Then that forces me to be homeless or move in and be a mooch when I don?t want to or try and go to a homeless shelter,? Hawkins said. ?I?ve been homeless twice and I have already lived at two or three different people?s houses.? Hawkins came out as a transgender male-to-female on Facebook in July 2011 and said she has identified more with women since the age of five. ?My first thoughts were that I know something is wrong. I know that I?m supposed to be in a female?s body with the same personality,? Hawkins said. She recalls playing with a female childhood friend. ?It was just me trying to wear the clothes and wanting to do the things Brittany did,? Hawkins said. ?I was around my mom and her friend and her daughter and I don?t know if that played a role in why I think and feel this way.? It was ?in my best interests to come out after high school,? according to Hawkins. ?I think it would have taken a really big emotional toll if I had come out in high school. I don?t know if I had the emotional stability,? Hawkins said. ?I was to be around people every day and five days a week. If I was to want to dress up during high school and want to grow out my hair or do more feminine things, I knew there would have been talk or more gossip and I felt that was unnecessary.? Hawkins said her father ?called me after and told me he was accepting,? while her mom took a little bit longer to come around. ?I let her be for awhile,? Hawkins said. ?She had told me she has always been accepting of me but not supportive of the idea.? After coming out, Hawkins said, she lost friends because they either moved away after high school or ?aren?t fully accepting of it or just don?t understand it.? She said her parents are now accepting of the fact that she is transgender, while her mother was not at first. Hawkins said she is still living as a man since legally she is still a male. ?Since I?m stuck in a male body, I still dress that way,? Hawkins said. ?Sometimes I will dress up and go all out.? Hawkins, who recently lost her medical insurance, isn?t sure when she will make the surgical transition from male to female. There are steps she will need to take to be approved for a sexual reassignment surgery: 12 counseling sessions and a signed letter of recommendation from a counselor to a doctor; a letter of recommendation from the doctor to an endocrinologist; and then the endocrinologist would start her on hormones. ?In the process, it takes two to three years on hormones to be able to get certification and approval to get the surgery,? Hawkins said. ?I?m trying to get on hormones as fast as I can.? She will need to be ?living full-time? as a woman for those two to three years, and dress as a woman during that time. ?I?m looking forward to living my life as the female I should have been,? Hawkins said. ?I am looking to live my life internally problem-free.?