Changing the Transgendered Employment Dilemma

Most of society has no clue what a transgendered person may go through on a job search.  As if getting a job is not difficult enough in this day and age there are many more strikes against a transgendered person in any job market.  Recent studies (the first such studies by the way) done on our transgendered population show that being transgendered makes it much more likely that they will be harassed on the job, receive less pay and have more difficulty in getting a job in the first place.  The transgendered population has double the rate of unemployment and two to four times the rate of poverty which is the highest of any minority.  For trans folks who have jobs 97% say they experienced harassment on the job and 47% experienced significant losses in promotions, jobs or pay raises.  As in any many cases with minorities these are only what is reported.  Many trans folk will not report harassment or issues with their employment for a variety of reasons.  They may not want to draw attention to themselves or the issue to avoid more discrimination if they rock the boat, or they may not want to take the chance of being outed to their co-workers if they are not already out.
Here is just a small taste of what I am going through during my current search for a better job and what most transgendered people deal with.  The biggest issue is that for most of us our identification, documents, college transcripts, etc do not all reflect our current name or gender marker.  What happens when you give this to your potential employer?  It means that you have to out yourself immediately. This makes it very easy if someone has an issue with you being transgendered to just not give you the job and use any reason they like no matter how qualified you are.
Then there is the issue of old work references.  This is a great one.  Can you imagine having to call and tell old employers who know nothing about your transition and are not a part of your life, about your transition and just hope they will be ok with it to give you a reference without bias? Then explain to your potential employer that if you call this reference you will have to use my old name, oh and they will refer to me as she.  This can put everyone in a very uncomfortable spot.
I am from the south, went to a Southern Baptist Christian high school and college.   How well do you think this will all go over with them?  All of my prior work history is in the Bible Belt.  You get the point.  If they even bothered to call back or give any reference at all, do you think they could overcome their cultural and religious biases, even if you did a great job when you were there?  I have to admit even as confident and out as I am, the thought of someone calling about my education or old job references is at times discouraging and nerve racking.  And many people are not as open or as confident as I am.  It saddens me to think about the struggles my trans peers go through just to find employment. The state I am from, Florida, is one of the many states that can legally refuse to change gender on a birth certificate even with a medical doctor and psychiatrist letter saying you have met all requirements and are should now be considered male or female.  Many of our own brothers and sisters in the LGBQ community are clueless about the issues that a transgendered person faces.  While there is plenty of discrimination against the LGBQ community, it pales in comparison to the added discrimination doled out to the trans community concerning documentation and work history. 
I have not even yet covered the topic of the large amount of young people who have been kicked out of home for being transgendered and are on the streets, many of whom never got to finish high school and are living day to day survival because their families have abandoned them for being who they are, leaving them hopeless, vulnerable and living in poverty with no home or work.  Seattle and San Francisco are the two places most of these young people that are LGBTQ run away to when they are kicked out or cannot take the harassment any longer.  I am proud to live in Seattle, a place that gives them hope to come to.  We as citizens have a big responsibility to step up and do what we can to help these young transgendered citizens.  It is good for us all when they have hope, get an education and can hold down a job.
There are still 35 states that it is still perfectly legal to fire or not hire someone strictly because they are transgendered.  Why, if we are the United States are we not united as one when it comes to ALL civil rights?  Why do we let individual states decide things that are the core of who we are supposed to be as a country?  How it is ok for one state to say you cannot discriminate in this way and others states to freely discriminate?  In 1967, the Supreme Court finally decided that if was unconstitutional for states to ban interracial marriage and legalized interracial marriage as a right for all.  Some individual states had legalized interracial marriage for years, however most likely the other states would have never legalized it if the Supreme Court had not stepped in and said enough.
It is time that we the people stand up and say to the President, Congress and the Supreme Court “enough!”  Let’s insist that we stop allowing individual states to openly discriminate against any minority.  It is bad for all of us as a country when any group is held down from success.  We are talking jobs here, people.  We are talking about people having the ability to pay bills and not live on the streets or need government assistance.  This affects us all.  We are connected, whether you agree with someone or not, like them or not. Their ability to take care of themselves and be successful in this country or your country wherever you are, affects you and us as a whole. 
More cities need to follow the lead of those few who are leading the way towards equal rights for all.  The City of Seattle is working toward a Transgendered Employment Empowerment Program.  To help the many young people get their GED’S and college educations, housing, food and mentoring.  This program will also help those who transition later in life, like me, with getting all of ones documents changed correctly, learning how to transition in your job or search for a new job during or right after transition.  This is an exciting program that will help our city grow and have more citizens that can contribute to the greatness and strength of Seattle. 
Join me and my transgendered allies as we change the world.  If you are in Seattle get involved with our new program.  If you’re reading this from outside of the Pacific Northwest, take the time to look at what the laws are for your state and city.  If they need changing, start the process.  It just takes a few dedicated individuals to change the world.  So step up and change it.