On October 2nd, Byron, Georgia’s NBC affiliate ran a story about the upcoming Byron Fire Department Family Fun Day.
“Byron Fire Chief J.D. Mosby,” the post read, “stopped by…”
That was 2014. J.D. had been at the helm since ’08.
Four years later, the fire department got a new chief.
At least, that is, in name.
Newly at the helm: Rachel Mosby, the female-identifying fireperson courtesy of J.D.’s self-realization.
That same year, Rachel reminisced:
From a WMAZ article at the time:
Same leadership, same skills on the job, but one noticeable change — Chief Rachel Mosby is transgender, taking the steps to go from a man to a woman during her time in one of the city’s top jobs. …
“In 2004, I became a district chief,” she recalled. She came to Byron three years later as a fire marshal. … “It started in 2016, I started medically transitioning,” Rachel said.
Rachel is transgender. Uncomfortable as a man, she began the journey to becoming a woman. “I mostly grew up in a small town, smaller than the one I live in now, and information wasn’t available and it wasn’t something you just went and asked grownups about. there just wasn’t information sources for this stuff,” she explained.
The outlet tried to dig deep:
We asked Rachel about the man she was before the transition, and she didn’t really want to go into that. For her, he simply doesn’t exist anymore.
But he existed to the guys at the fire station, and in a profession where very few women, much less transgender individuals, fill the ranks, Rachel had some intense conversations ahead of her.
“I needed to be able to trust them with this the way that I ask them to trust me every day when they come to work. These people are like my family here at the fire department. We’re all family, and it’s the same thing like going to family with that, and I think that the majority of the reluctance on my part had to do with my own underestimation of their character, and in the end, it wound up not being as big of a deal as I thought it was.”
But not long after, tragedy struck: On Jun 4th, 2019 — after 11 years of service — Rachel received a letter of termination.
The stated reason: poor job performance.
Mosby believed differently. An April 2020 lawsuit claimed the firing was “based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping.”
From The Associated Press:
Rachel…says her firing…not only cost her wages and retirement benefits, but also tarnished her reputation. …
Per the AP, Rachel claimed “she was ordered to start wearing a uniform the first day she came to work in a skirt. Previously, Mosby often wore suits and ties. Some city officials insisted on referring to her using male pronouns, according to the lawsuit. When Mosby fired a reserve firefighter who called the chief a slur to her face, the firefighter appealed and was reinstated by the city.
More trouble was ’round the bend:
In January 2018, Byron’s City Council changed its personnel policy to eliminate appeals for any department heads the city fires. Derick Hayes, Byron’s city administrator, fired her that summer.
Hayes cited three reasons for Mosby’s firing in her termination letter: that she was responsible for a backlog of business licenses awaiting approval; that she attended only five classes at a recent fire chief’s conference, wasting the city’s money; and that she failed to maintain certification as an arson investigator.
Mayor Michael Chidester said by email Tuesday that he had not seen Mosby’s lawsuit. He denied her allegations that she was fired because of her transition.
And this week, big news arrives for the fireman who showed up as a firewoman.
The AP reports a federal judge has thrown out the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Tilman E. Self III (now that’s a southern name) declined to rule.
To hear Tilman tell it, Rachel’s suit had zero legal standing.
Tilman found Mosby’s initial complaint to the EEOC on June 28, 2019, failed to include a written sworn statement or notarized affirmation as the agency requires. Though Mosby’s attorney tried to amend the complaint to include the missing document last July, the judge ruled that was too late because the EEOC had already closed Mosby’s case and she had filed suit.
Tilman’s ruling Jan. 28 also threw out Mosby’s claims that Byron officials had denied her due process and defamed her character.
The suit missed a good chance:
In a landmark decision last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits sex discrimination applies to bias against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
On the upside, if Rachel so chooses, the military may soon be accepting biological males identifying as women.
As I covered in January, new Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin confirmed he’s ready for the change:
“If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve and you can expect that I will support that throughout.”
They say firefighters make great soldiers.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more on firefighting, firemen, and firing.
All of these topics…are hot.
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