- (Photo: Twitter/B. Scott)
Editorial note: The Christian Post will describe Scott using the male pronoun of he/his because that is how Scott refers to himself in his legal complaint.
Transgender television personality and style correspondent B. Scott has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the parent company of the BET network, arguing that the television network discriminated against him by forcing him to tone down his feminine look at a pre-awards show in June.
Scott, who was born male but has since pronounced his gender identity to be female, is seeking $2.5 million in damages from BET's parent company, Viacom, for discrimination, wrongful termination and emotional distress.
Scott, who was born Brandon Sessoms, argues in the lawsuit that he was hired by the network in June to be the Style Stage Correspondent for the pre-BET Awards 2013 show "106 and Park Pre-Show" in Los Angeles, Calif. During the first segment of the show, Scott reportedly wore a flowing black tunic and black pants. He claims in the lawsuit that midway through the pre-show he was pulled backstage and told to tone down his feminine look, including "mute the makeup, pull back his hair" and remove the women's heels he was wearing.
"They forced him to change into solely men's clothing, different from the androgynous style he's used to, which he was uncomfortable with," the complaint, filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, reads.
Although Scott did comply with the request and wore a blue blazer, loafers and slacks for the second segment of the pre-show, he claims he was still replaced by host Adrienne Balon. In addition to monetary compensation, Scott is also seeking an apology from the BET network for "humiliation."
"Let's be clear - I'm suing BET and Viacom for a true public apology and to be fairly remunerated for the time lost, humiliation and emotional distress this entire situation has put me through," Scott said in a statement regarding the lawsuit.
Although BET and Viacom have yet to respond to the lawsuit, the BET network did issue an apology in July after Scott discussed the incident on his fashion blog, lovebscott.com. In the July blog post, Scott argued that BET made him feel that "something was wrong with who I am as a person."
At the time, BET said the incident was a "miscommunication," telling the Associated Press in a statement that that network "embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds."
"The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions," the statement added.
Scott wrote on his blog recently that he had attempted to "come to a resolution" with Viacom and BET for the past few weeks, but after an agreement could not be reached he decided to file a lawsuit. "I have been vehemently trying to come to a resolution with BET and Viacom behind the scenes. After a few weeks of back and forth dialogue with no foreseeable resolution, I have filed a lawsuit," Scott wrote.
In the past year, there have been several lawsuits filed on behalf of the transgender community fighting for acceptance and recognition in society.
One case that gained national headlines was that of Coy Mathis, a transgender 6-year-old who identifies as a female in Fountain, Colorado. Mathis' parents filed a complaint with the state's civil rights division after her school district told her she could not use the female bathroom at school, but rather had to use the faculty bathroom or the gender-neutral bathroom in the nurse's office.
The Mathis family won the lawsuit in June, with the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruling that the school district had created an unnecessary situation in which the child could be subject to ridicule and harassment for using a different bathroom than everyone else.
In July, California lawmakers passed a law which would allow transgender students in grades K-12 to use the public restroom of the gender they identified with, as well as play on the sports teams of the gender they identified with.
In another similar case, Bobby Montoya, a 7-year-old male who identifies as a female, was initially barred from joining Colorado's Girl Scouts organization because she was not born male. Although she was initially turned away from the youth organization, the Girl Scouts of Colorado later released a statement saying Bobby would be allowed to join their ranks.
Lastly, a transgender woman in Boston, Mass. won a $20,000 lawsuit against the city in February after police forced her out of a women's restroom at a homeless shelter in the south area of the city and arrested her for disorderly conduct.