Transgender Professor Fired by Religious Administrator to be Reinstated

The years relating to the transition in this article were not presented accurately in this article. Dr. Rachel Tudor did not transition in 2017, she transitioned in 2007.

In 2004, Dr. Rachel Tudor started working as an assistant professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU). At that time in 2004, she identified as cis male. In 2007, Dr. Tudor transitioned and started formally identifying as a woman. She notified the university accordingly and presented herself as a woman starting the 2007-2008 academic year.

After her transition, an unnamed person from the human resources department contacted her. According to this person, Douglas McMillan, the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), was probing for ways to expel Dr. Tudor from the university because her transgender lifestyle is offensive to religious people. Jane McMillan, the sister of the VPAA, asked Dr. Tudor to be careful because her brother thinks that trans-identity causes “grave offense to his sensibilities.”

In 2009, Dr. Tudor’s application for a tenure status was declined. A cis-male who had similar credentials to her got his application approved around the same time hers was rejected. The university refused to explain in detail why her application was denied. But for the 2009-2010 academic year, she was granted tenure for the year’s duration through a faculty committee vote of 4-11. The university declined to promote her to an associate professor role. She was then fired from the university in 2011.

On March 31, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice took legal actions against SOSU and the Regional University System of Oklahoma. Dr. Tudor joined the lawsuit against the two defendants and won her case in 2017, where the jury awarded her more than $1 million in damages.

But it was not enough; the journey for acceptance did not end with her 2017 case, according to a statement from Dr. Tudor’s representative. “They wanted people like Dr. Tudor to be afraid, and to go away. Instead… she fought for the rights and dignity of her Native and LGBT communities,” the statement said.

On September 13, 2021, the appellate court ordered Southeastern Oklahoma State University to reinstate Dr. Tudor with tenure. The appellate court also instructed the District Court in Oklahoma City to compose guidelines for Dr. Tudor’s reinstatement, including the complete tenure. Recalculations for lost wages and attorney’s fees were also included in the order.

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