D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has directed the city’s Department of Employment Services to begin a first-of-its-kind pilot program specifically directed toward members of the transgender community for job training and job placement.
Gray disclosed plans for the program at an Aug. 4 meeting he hosted with representatives of the transgender community. Officials with several city agencies also attended the meeting.
“The Department of Employment Services will run a pilot of their transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community,” said Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, who attended the meeting. “The program includes six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment,” he said.
Richardson was referring to an existing program that trains city residents for jobs and reimburses employers participating in the program for part of the salary of the employee accepted in the program.
Transgender activist Jeri Hughes, who requested the meeting with the mayor, submitted proposals in advance of the meeting calling on the city to more aggressively address chronic unemployment among transgender residents, especially young transgender women.
Hughes and other transgender activists have said city employers were turning away qualified transgender applicants for entry-level jobs in violation of the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation.
“I’m very thankful that the mayor agreed to do this,” said Hughes. “The bottom line is we didn’t get everything we asked for, but we’re getting there.”
Hughes said Gray didn’t make a commitment on a request by transgender activists that he direct the Department of Employment Services, the Office of Human Rights, and the Office of GLBT Affairs to hire at least one transgender person or a person knowledgeable of transgender issues to serve as a full-time coordinator of transgender related matters.
Richardson said Gray made a commitment to expand the city’s diversity training for all city employees to include specific training related to “transgender cultural competency.”
Gray agreed to hold a follow-up meeting with transgender activists in 30 days to discuss the progress of the proposals that emerged from the Aug. 4 meeting, Richardson said.