A Florida city commission voted to fire its city manager just days after he confirmed his plans to return to work after undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

The Associated Press reports that the Largo city commission voted 5-2 to fire City Manager Steve Stanton at a meeting attended by more than 400 citizens on Feb. 23.

Stanton, 48, confirmed last week that he is a transsexual.

With a solid reputation as a forceful and energetic leader, he had hoped to keep his $140,000-a-year (£72,850) job as he underwent the gender reassignment process.

“It’s just painful to know seven days ago I was a good guy and now… I have no integrity,” Stanton told the commission, reports the AP.

“My challenge here has always been that someday I was going to leave this organisation. So I am going to do it with a smile on my face.”

Commissioner Gay Gentry said she believed Stanton’s choices had lost him the loyalty of his staff.

“I know Steve Stanton will continue to take the hill but I’m afraid his foot soldiers won’t follow him,” she said.

“He has done serious damage to his staff. I sense he has lost his standing as a leader.”

Commissioner Rodney Woods, the council’s first black member, said that as a victim of discrimination himself, he had to support Stanton.

“I have always been about tolerance and diversity,” Woods said, reports UPI.

“I cannot do it (fire Stanton) with a clean conscience.”

The vote started a process during which Stanton can ask for a hearing to make his case.

TheSt. Petersburg Times reports that if Stanton asks for a public hearing, commissioners are required to hold it no sooner than 15 days and no more than 30 days after his request.

If Stanton does not request the hearing, the City Commission can make his termination final within five days of the day he received a copy of the resolution.

“If I can’t put together a decent appeal, I’m not going to disrupt the city organisation,” Stanton told the Times.

Stanton went on paid administrative leave last Tuesday.

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