August 11, 2011 at 10:55 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Mayor starts transgender job training program

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.

Jeri Hughes (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Instead of starting a transgender community program for job training and job placement, Gray should start a program providing psychological counseling for guys and gals considering transitioning and aid them in dealing with their life challenges. That would be a positive step.

  • I agree Miranda! Everyone deserve access to safe and equal workplaces. As the coordinator for the nations first Trans employment program in San Francisco (TEEI), I have learned that our community has specific issues and barriers to employment that need to be addressed in a respectful and understanding way. Negotiating decisions such as what name to use on a resume, how to come out to references, or transition on the job. I hope D.C.’s Department of Employment Services calls on the community for support in implementing this needed program. Furthermore, that they work to provide anti bias trainings to their staff and local employers participating in the project.

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