One activist thought times had changed in Largo

A few days before the Largo City Commission hearing on the status of City Manager Steve Stanton, transgender activist Janice Carney felt confident Stanton would be allowed to keep his job. Carney is a veteran of the unsuccessful 2003 fight to establish a human rights ordinance in Largo, but now she felt Largo's city government had changed for the better. She believed that, with Mayor Pat Gerard and City Commissioners Gigi Arntzen, Andy Guyette and Rodney Woods in place, Stanton was safe.

She said so Feb. 23 in her e-mailed newsletter "Perspectives from a Trans-Woman":

"I am delighted that today the City Man[a]ger of Largo can be herself, and not have a fear of losing her job. ... I have trust that the new mayor and city commission will judge the city manager on her job performance not her gender presentation."

Well, she was right about the mayor and Commissioner Woods — but Commissioners Guyette and Arntzen, along with the rest of the panel, voted to give Stanton the axe.

"I'm just totally, totally shocked," said Carney on a phone call from Boston, where she moved in October to be closer to her family.

Carney says she campaigned for both Arntzen and Guyette.

"These people know me. They know I'm a fully functional, competent human being." Accordingly, she assumed they'd arrived at a more enlightened attitude toward all transgender people." I thought they'd judge Susan or Steve [Stanton] by how he or she does his job."

That wasn't to be the case. In her most recent newsletter, on March 1, she apologizes to the people of Largo for helping get Arntzen elected and bemoans having left the city without getting a human rights ordinance passed.

She is particularly disturbed by Stanton's plight because she remembers him as being "really supportive" during the fight for a human rights ordinance.

"So from day one I had a sense there was something more personal at stake. [But] as a professional, I understand why he never came out to me. He's never let his personal life interfere with his life as a city manager.

"This is what drives me up the wall. He's been city manager for 14 years, and within three or four days of coming out he's fired? You can't get more blatant than that.

"I'm just amazed."


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