October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Transgender residents to graduate from jobs program

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was scheduled to speak at a first-of-its-kind graduation ceremony Oct. 7 for 17 transgender residents who successfully completed a special city jobs training program called Project Empowerment.

The program, which is conducted by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, is said to be only local, county, or state program of its kind in the nation that provides job training and other employment services specifically directed toward the transgender community.

“We are extremely pleased to graduate our first transgender class in the Project Empowerment Program,” said DOES Director Lisa Mallory.

“This graduating class represents Mayor Gray’s unwavering commitment to the LGBT community, his efforts to expand cultural diversity training throughout the District government, and, more specifically, his pledge to help decrease the barriers to employment experienced by the transgender community,” Mallory said in a statement.

Gray directed the DOES to create the program following a meeting with transgender activists earlier this year. Local transgender advocate Jeri Hughes gave a presentation at the meeting on the high unemployment rate of low-income transgender women whom she said often face employment discrimination.

The graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place at noon on Friday, Oct. 7, at the DOES offices at 4058 Minnesota Ave., N.E.

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

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