One of the biggest challenges that transgender women face is a whole long list of barriers to employment. Transgenders face double the unemployment of other people. For transgender people of color, that rate is doubled again to be four times as high as the general population.
In today’s society, with wider acceptance, visibility, and progressive movements towards human rights, this is beginning to change but the obstacles in place are still significant. Transexuals face extremely high rates of unemployment, and many of them who do hold jobs report that their employment depends on hiding their trans status or presenting as their assigned-at-birth gender, rather than as their true identity.
Traditionally, the extreme barriers between transgender women and jobs has contributed to a higher percentage of trans women working in the sex industry, as well as substance abuse and addictions, and of course, poverty. Those transgenders who have been able to secure and keep employment may face discrimination, bullying, lower wages, sexual harassment, and other difficulties on the job.
There are, however, many companies who proudly hire transgender people, and many more still that don’t care who is trans or not, hiring people suited to the specific offered jobs, and who stand by these trans employees if they face challenges with co-workers or other problems.
Some innovative solutions promoting transgender equality in the job force are transgender job fairs, like the one held recently in Cleveland, Ohio. The fourth trans job fair of its kind, hosted by MetroHealth, the initiative helps introduce transgender people looking for work to companies that are open to and supportive of transgender employees.
MetroHealth hosts a PRIDE network at its hospitals, and chose to be responsive to the issues they were hearing about from trans clients. A few of the companies promoting employment opportunities to transgender people included Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Giant Eagle, and Starbucks.
It’s certainly advantageous to have a local transgender job fair, but those transgender women, admirers and allies with no access to such initiatives can benefit from researching employment equality online.
Corporations and small businesses that support trans equality are easy to find with a few keywords. Some will come as no surprise, such as Apple and Starbucks, giving direction to career paths and resumes. Others will be unexpected—Chevron, for example, was way ahead of its time with a white paper in 2005 announcing support for safe bathroom use for transitioning and trans employees. Walmart offers some of the most trans inclusive healthcare options and have publicly opposed bills that would allow religious discrimination against trans workers.
If you are in business and would like to support transgender employment, there are also resources available to you. Below are just a few: