Are you transgender and seeking employment? If you are then you know how hard it can be to find gainful employment or even volunteer as a transgender person. There are many pitfalls in your quest to find work that have nothing to do with you being transgender; however inevitably the fact that you are trans becomes the most important aspect of your application for work. How many cisgender people do you know who have had to explain their gender to a potential employer during the interview? The answer is of course, none. Yet time and again transgender people have to explain to a complete stranger the most intimate details of their very being simply to get a position washing dishes or cleaning toilets; and they tell me there is no cisgender privilege...
Your job hunt as a transgender person is going to be a long tough road. There are many places in this world where you can be simply disqualified or even fired (if coming out at work) for being a transgender person. More often than not, during the interview you will see that "look" on their faces as they size you up and from that moment on you realize that the interview is pointless. You have yet again wasted another copy of your resume and a lot of your time on a pointless endeavor. Even worse, your self esteem and self worth has taken another hit; you're one step closer to the knife. Yet all is not lost! There are some employers out there who not only accept transgender people but support them through their careers; you just have to find them. Here are some ideas that might help you avoid some of the pitfalls on your transgender job hunt.
- Do your research: Do your research about the company you are applying for. Do they have a policy in regards to transgender employees? Do they even have any experience with transgender people?
- Turn it around: During the interview turn it around on them. Take with you a list of questions you want to ask them about their transgender policies; if any. Find out from the interviewer as much as you can about their policies against harassment and the general attitudes of the employees at the company.
- Know your professions: Keep in mind what professions you are applying to get yourself into. A construction crew for a male to female transgender person may not be the best choice as you can imagine the harassment and discrimination would be rather prominent in a male dominated field. A sexist as this is going to sound, try to find a profession that is gender appropriate as you may experience less resistance or problems on a day to day basis.
- The Bathroom: Find out what their policies are in regards to you using a gender appropriate bathroom. This can be the deal breaker in any job application process yet has to be covered unless you want to end up with a security guard in your face and having to produce your ID to prove that you are in the right bathroom. In some places it is the law that transgender people get to use the appropriate facilities for their gender but this is not always the case. Find out what the laws are in your area about it and be prepared to make your case to a prospective employer.
- Get your ID right: As soon as possible, get your identification changed to match your gender identity. This will make it easier for you to blend into a new job situation and when you get paid it is in the right name. It's hard to cash a cheque that is made out to a different name/gender that is on your identification cards.
- Volunteer: Offer to volunteer at a place you would like to work at for a while. This will get you valuable experience and give the employer a chance to know you beyond just being a transgender person. This one does not always work; I personally volunteered at a pharmacy for over a year and when it came to hiring a pharmacy tech they hired a cisgender woman; so be prepared for that.
- Dress appropriately : Dress appropriately for the job you are applying for and please for the love of Pete dress age appropriate! Middle aged transwomen who dress like they are fourteen increase the shock value of being transgender and attract discrimination like a magnet, pass badly and add to the ridicule we all face on a daily basis!
Employers want to hire someone who will do the best job possible while being the least amount of trouble. If they have to face endless problems with an employee for whatever reason they might just as soon hire someone else. Sadly this goes with being a transgender person and trying to use the gender appropriate washroom for the first time. I was told that I could not use the woman's washroom by my employer even though in British Columbia it is the law that I can use the right refreshment facilities. I ended up using a bush outside in the parking lot for the majority of my time there. So if you come across this call center company in Surrey BC, give it a pass. Finding work for us in incredibly difficult and so far I have only been able to find casual work for the last seven years. Help Desk at a call center, being my last full time work was the job I came out to; and soon after I was unemployed. As a transgender person you are going to have to think outside box in order to find employment. I have found casual work to be a great choice as I have found that I am not at any employer long enough for there to be any trouble regarding my gender identity. Good Luck in your transgender job hunt and thank you for being one of my brothers and sisters!