Transgender Woman Settles DMV Lawsuit

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A transgender woman received hate mail after she went to the DMV in San Francisco.

    The California Department of Motor Vehicles paid part of a $55,000 settlement to a Bay Area transgender woman for the actions of a former clerk who had helped her obtain a new driver's license.

    San Francisco resident Amber Yust had sued the DMV and former employee Thomas Demartini in February 2010 for the invasion of privacy and emotional distress she says she suffered when she received a letter sent to her home after her visit to the DMV.

    The letter called Yust's gender change a "very evil decision" that would condemn her to hell.

    Yust, 24, went to the Department of Motor Vehicles on Fell Street in San Francisco to register her sex change from male to female.

    After the visit, she got a letter suggesting she visit a church website for information on finding salvation.

    Yust also got a package with a DVD and pamphlet from the fundamentalist church about being possessed by demons.

    "[It's] scary that someone who's part of a government agency is able to take my personal information and get in touch with me," Yust told the San Francisco Chronicle several months after filing suit. "I don't think anyone could feel safe going to a DMV where they knew someone like that was working."

    The employee got into hot water back in 2009 when he refused to help another transgender woman with her name-change application. He told the woman that "God will send you to hell," according to Kristina Wertz, legal director of the Transgender Law Center.

    Yust's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the settlement calls for the state to pay $40,000 in damages and Demartini to pay $15,000. Demartini quit in December while Yust's complaint was being investigated. 

    As part of the  settlement, the department has agreed to provide transgender sensitivity training to its staff Wertz said.

    After the 2009 incident, the center gave training sessions to DMV employees about a California law that prohibits discrimination based on someone's sexual identity.