Bussert converted to Catholicism, and then met Sharon, a born Catholic, who became his second wife in 1990, after being told of his cross-dressing. They raised the three children from his first marriage and adopted two sisters from Haiti. Bussert worked in business consulting and systems analysis for networks, went to the Kinsey Institute for counseling, and they found Gender Identity Dysphoria.
In 2001 Bussert started working for Hitachi Data Systems, and in 2003 started laser hair removal, and looked for a transsexual community, but being in the middle of Indiana found none. In addition a 19-year old transsexual was murdered locally with her body set on fire.
Bussert applied for a transfer to the UK branch of Hitachi. He was to be an IT techie and business manager at £88,000 a year. The supervisor was open-minded, but moved on soon after. In London Bussert met Russell Reid at a conference, became a patient of his and started taking female hormones, and going out as female more often. She socially transitioned 2005 with Facial Feminization Surgery and breast augmentation with Dr Douglas Ousterhout in San Francisco. Her new supervisor had responded to the mention of a sex change: “Don’t do that to me, Josh. I had to work in an office with someone who did that once and it was weird”. By this time Russell Reid had been forced into retirement and Charing Cross Gender Clinic gave her a run-around.
Hitachi effectively demoted her and she was given a negative appraisal. She took sick leave for stress, returned and again went on sick leave. Hitachi stopped paying her salary and she resigned. Jessica sued for £500,000 in the UK and $3.6m in the US, but without success.
Since the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 it is clear that not only is it illegal to discriminate against transsexuals, but that this covers employees intending to undergo gender reassignment. However the Employment Tribunal in Reading dismissed Bussert's claims ruling that she had left the company of her own free will. Furthermore it found no fault with the way that Hitachi had handled the situation, and even commended Hitachi managers for displaying good management practice and embracing diversity.
As Bussert was no longer employed, the Home Office ruled that her permit to live in the UK was no longer valid, and Jessica and Sharon returned to Indiana.
They have since become award-winning photographers.
- Calare Dyer. “Transsexual seeks £2.5m damages after demotion from senior IT job”. The Guardian. 27 May 2006. www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329490763-110592,00.html.
- Michael Millar. "Experts reassure employers that transsexual Jessica Bussert’s discrimination claim against Hitachi is unlikely to prompt flood of claims". Personnel Today, 6 Jun 206. www.personneltoday.com/hr/experts-reassure-employers-that-transsexual-jessica-busserts-discrimination-claim-against-hitachi-is-unlikely-to-prompt-flood-of-claims.
- Marie Woolf. "Transsexual rights activist ordered to leave the country". The Independent, 20 August 2006. www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/transsexual-rights-activist-ordered-to-leave-the-country-412648.html.
- Sharon Bussert. “My Husband is now my Wife”. Red Magazine. October 2006. Online at: www.bussert.com/jessica/20061001red.html. NO LONGER AVAILABLE
- "Transsexual Loses $1M Discrimination Case". 365Gay, January 8, 2007. Online at: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TNUKdigest/conversations/topics/25091.
- "Employee loses biggest ever transgender discrimination claim". Workplace Law, 8 Jan 2007. www.workplacelaw.net/services/news/8122/employee-loses-biggest-ever-transgender-discrimination-claim#.