Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Trans woman files claim against DMV

A transgender San Francisco woman is nearing a lawsuit against the California Department of Motor Vehicles after a DMV employee sent her an attack letter.

According to her claim, which was filed Thursday, December 9, by attorney Christopher Dolan, Amber Yust received a     letter from Thomas Demartini, the DMV employee who’d helped her, on October 25. The letter, which was filed along with the claim, said, “The homosexual act is an abomination that leads to hell.”

Yust had gone to the DMV with her court-ordered name change and DMV paperwork with her, and with Demartini’s help had obtained a new driver’s license in her new name.

The letter also quotes the Bible as saying, “If anyone lie with a man as with a woman … let them be put to death.”

Besides the letter, Yust also received a pamphlet from the Most Holy Family Monestary, which appears to be an ultra-conservative Catholic organization based in Fillmore, New York.

In his letter, Demartini calls Yust’s gender change “evil” and refers her to Most Holy Family’s site for information for her “salvation.” Through the claim, Yust alleges that Demartini provided her address to the monestary.

“This has been a traumatic experience for me and I want to ensure nothing like this happens to anyone else,” Yust said in a statement from Christopher Dolan, her attorney, and Transgender Law Center, which has been assisting her.

According to the statement, Demartini was involved in a similar incident in 2009. At that time, he supposedly refused to assist a transgender woman attempting to change the name on her driver’s license, telling her, “I want to let you know that God will send you to hell!” The DMV apologized for that incident.

Demartini couldn’t be reached for comment.

DMV Mike Marando said in an interview that immediately following the October incident, Demartini was put on paid administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.

“The alleged actions of the employee were unauthorized, outside the course and scope of this employee’s duties, and expressly prohibited by departmental policy,” said Marando.

Asked why Demartini hadn’t been fired after the 2009 incident, Marando said the DMV had taken “appropriate action” at the time, including the Transgender Law Center conducting sensitivity training for all employees.

He said Demartini has worked for the DMV for four years.

Marando told the Bay Area Reporter last month that Demartini had been removed from the DMV office on Fell Street. At that time, Marando indicated Demartini hadn’t been fired, and said Demartini hadn’t resigned, but wouldn’t say whether he’d been suspended.

Marando said last week that he couldn’t say when the investigation would be complete. He said generally, if the charges are proved,  employees can face termination, demotion, or suspension.

“We view this as an isolated incident,” Marando said, referring to Yust’s claim. He said he couldn’t recall a similar incident occurring other than the 2009 case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 15, 2010 @ 4:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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