We’re all familiar with the depressing statistics for the transgendered finding employment. In America, where unemployment rates are already high, the transgender population face double that of their cisgender peers. Much like it would be a bad strategy to find your next partner on Christian Mingle, instead of TSmeet.com or TSDating.com, seeking employment as a transgendered woman at your local Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A is unlikely to be a good use of your time.
If you live in a moderately-sized city, chances are good that there are GLBT job fairs and expos which are great venues to connect with employers who are supportive of workplace equality. Even if you don’t land a job, the contacts you make with the people you meet, extended through following them on services like LinkedIn can provide your job search a boost.
Before submitting a resumé or an application for employment, do homework on the company and visit their website. Many progressive companies have policies that include non-discrimination against employees on the basis of their gender status. An excellent resource for those seeking employment within larger corporations is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index which rates big businesses on their treatment of LGBT employees.
Asking other transgender members of the community about their experiences in the workplace, both good and bad, allows you to independently verify if a prospective employer really walks the walk, rather than just paying lip service to progressive ideals for the sake of public relations. Another bonus, you’ll be letting those in your circle who might be able to assist you, knoq that you’re looking for work.
References can be dicey if your name and/or gender has changed since you were employed there. Similarly applications that require your “legal name” can trip up the application process if your name has not been legally changed to match the gender you present. One simple work-around can be to use the first initial of your first name, thereby stripping gender from the information you’re indirectly providing.
As the employment market is weak, regardless of one’s status, having a positive mental attitude and friendly demeanor in interviews is key. While someone referring to you with the incorrect pronoun or being confused as a result of your possibly discordant application data, take it in stride and gently redirect them to what you believe is the proper terminology. Taking a combative activist’s stance, while perhaps emotionally satisfying, will likely lose you consideration for the job you’re pursuing.
What has your experience been when looking for employment?