Unemployment and poverty rates among transgender people are far higher than the national average. In California, the rates are twice as high as the state average.
That makes news from San Francisco especially welcome.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, which works to assist transgender people in San Francisco to find jobs, was on the chopping block.
More than half its funding was slated to be cut by San Francisco city officials struggling to plug a $483-million budget hole. But an outpouring of community support and impassioned political backing by San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty paid off. The funding was restored.
This is one of the most crucial issues facing transgender people: how to find and keep a decent job. Resources are few and far between. But they are out there. After the jump, more on the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, and another online resource for trans people.
Also according to the Times, a recent study showed that transgender Californians are twice as likely as the general population to possess college degrees, yet their unemployment and poverty rates are twice the state average. Resume gaps due to time off for gender transition, problems with references, and discrimination are among the barriers that people face.
The Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative program combines legal help, mentoring, assistance with resume-writing and interview skills, and vocational services. It also provides training to employers who are reaching out to ensure that transgender people are welcomed in the workforce.
"We are incredibly grateful for everyone's hard work in making sure that this critical program could continue to help alleviate chronic unemployment among transgender people," said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which runs the initiative with the San Francisco LGBT Center and Jewish Vocational Services.
TEEI participants have access to:
* One-on-one job counseling with a vocational specialist in the trans community.
* Full range of our Mentorship from a successful peer professional or ally who can offer both personal support and career networking opportunities.
* A network of local trans-friendly employers looking to hire from the community.
* Employment resources.
* Legal advice on identity documentation and rights in the workplace.
This is the kind of program that can really make a difference in the trans community. Yes, we need laws to cut down on the ability of employers to discriminate, but laws don't give you jobs.
Other services available to participants include one-on-one peer based mentoring, job search planning meetings, a job search skills workshop, legal seminars, and social and spiritual meetings.
Now that's a support network!
We need more programs like this. Time to start cranking up the grant-writing machinery!
Here's another resource available online: Transworkplace, a Resource Network on transgender workplace diversity for HR managers, diversity professionals, lawyers, transgender employees and allies. There are over 700 members on the site, with national job listings, forums for discussions of job-related issues, member blogs, and a transgender work news feed.
I started it last year, and the response was quite immediate, showing the crying need for resources in this area. 400 people signed up the first day after I started it.
As important as ENDA is to combat workplace discrimination, resources that can help trans people find jobs is equally crucial. We should continue to work for ENDA, and similar state and local laws, but we should also devote some of our time and energy to projects designed to help people get the jobs.
If any of you know of other resources, please do tell. Let's all work together on this issue.