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She built the town's fire department from scratch. A decade later, they fired her for coming out.

Chief Rachel Mosby was reportedly fired 18 months after she began coming to work presenting as a woman—a year since she began medically transitioning.

She built the town's fire department from scratch. A decade later, they fired her for coming out.
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Rachel Mosby

When Rachel Mosby arrived at a small town of about 4,500 in a farming region outside Macon, Byron, in Georgia over 13 years ago, the place didn't have a fire station. Hired as the city's fire marshal in 2007, she was promoted to fire chief within months of her arrival after the city established its first professional fire department. Chief Mosby spent the next decade of her life building a first responders unit any town would be proud of, growing the department, obtaining grants to pay for equipment, and improving its rating. Today, she's caught up in a legal battle against town officials after she was fired for coming out as a transgender woman.


According to ABC News, in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Macon, Mosby claims city officials fired her "based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping." She was reportedly fired 18 months after she began coming to work presenting as a woman—a year after she began medically transitioning—and Mosby says the termination last summer not only cost her wages and retirement benefits but also tarnished her reputation; one built up over a lifetime. 


"They didn’t want somebody like me in that position, or any position with the city," she said in a September interview. According to Mosby, her city hall colleagues and administrators were supportive when she first started coming to work as a woman in January 2018. Sharing her transition story with WMAZ-TV last year, she spoke highly of how her colleagues handled her coming out to them. "The majority of the reluctance on my part, had to do with a lot of my own underestimation of their character and in the end, it wound up not being as big a deal as I thought it was," she said at the time.


"One thing I've found is that allies and friends have come from some of the most unexpected places," Mosby added. Explaining why she chose to share her story with the public, she said: "It's important to have visibility for those that can't. There are a lot of folks that are unable to be visible with their transition and then there are a lot of people that are afraid. Afraid of everything that goes along with it." However, the support she received was short-lived and after making her transition public, she was ordered to start wearing a uniform the first day she came to work in a skirt, although she had previously often worn suits and ties.


Furthermore, the lawsuit claims some city officials insisted on misgendering her by using male pronouns. It also mentions an incident where after Mosby fired a reserve firefighter who called the chief a slur to her face, he was reinstated by the city upon appeal. Shortly after, Mosby was fired by Byron’s city administrator, Derick Hayes. In her June 4 termination letter, Hayes cited three reasons for firing her: a backlog of business licenses awaiting approval, having attended only five classes at a recent fire chief’s conference, and failing to maintain certification as an arson investigator.


Responding to Mosby's lawsuit, Mayor Michael Chidester denied her allegations that she was fired because of her transition. "It has been the contention of the City since claims were filed with the EEOC that such claims had and have no basis in fact," he said. Mosby's lawsuit says the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failed to take any action after reviewing a complaint she filed last year with the agency, giving her permission to go to court on her own. The former fire chief is also claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming that the work backlog cited in her termination letter occurred in part due to doctor visits and physical therapy appointments to treat back and hip problems caused by a job-related injury.


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