“Thriving in Los Angeles as a person of trans, non-binary, or intersex experience is challenging,” Eden Anaï Luna, Manager of the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, said.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, nearly one-third of trans people are living in poverty, compounded by the statistic that they experience a 15 percent unemployment rate which is three times higher than the unemployment rate in the U.S. population (5 percent). The unemployment rate among trans people of color is worse—four times higher than the nation’s unemployment rate.
Luna said that there are many intersecting socioeconomic factors that affect the unemployment and poverty rates for trans, non-binary and intersex folks. She noted the lack of legal protections on the basis of gender identity and gender expression on a federal level. There is also a level of federally-sanctioned discrimination against gender diverse people that encourages individual states and companies to continually perpetuate discriminatory hiring and firing practices.
On Thursday, November 7, from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., the Los Angeles LGBT Center will host the 11th annual job and resources fair specifically tailored for trans, non-binary, and intersex people at the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza. The free fair is hosted by the Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project (TEEP) in partnership with programmatic funders City of West Hollywood and Citi Community Development, as well as community partners Trans Can Work, JVS SoCal, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
“The City of West Hollywood is pleased to partner with the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project in this movement for economic development,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “We encourage all companies to hire trans community members and expand the visibility of their workforces.”
Luna said that the job fair is the bridge to economic stability, success and ultimately dignity in a workplace for a person of these experiences.
“At other job fairs, employers often presume that the jobseekers whom they are interacting with identifies as cisgender and heterosexual,” Luna said. “At our job fair, we aim to not only dispel that myth that gender diverse professionals do not exist. Rather, we celebrate and welcome diversity as the new normal.”
Since launching in 2008, the job and resources fair has attracted more than 1,500 potential candidates with hundreds of them eventually obtaining employment. This year, 40 top-tier corporations and companies are anticipated to participate in this year’s fair.
“Each year our participating businesses continues to grow. This year, however, we had to be more selective with the registration process. We have gathered employers who have demonstrated their commitment to support inclusivity practices on state and national scales. We are certain this will continue to set the standard to inclusive hiring practices across the country,” Luna said.
Employers will be conducting interviews on site and will be ready to hire the best candidates. Job seekers will also be able to access resources at the fair such as one-on-one résumé reviews; an interviewing skills workshop; and a photo booth for professional headshots. Professional clothing, haircuts, hairstyling, and makeup will be provided in preparation for the professional headshots. Participants will be able to download their headshots on USB flash drives donated by Grindr and ICM Partners.
“Access to job opportunities is a fundamental part of financial stability,” said James Alva, South California Market Manager, Citi Community Development. “By supporting the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, we aim to expand access to critical resources that boost long-term economic success for transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals.”
Due to ignorance, trans, non-binary, and intersex people often have to live in the very margins of society, Luna said.
“Stereotypes crumble once employers begin to meet gender diverse people and realize that gender diverse people are just like everyone else,” Luna said. “At the Los Angeles LGBT Center, we work to address this issue and bridge the gaps between gender diverse professionals and inclusive employers, and we hope this continues to inspire other states and employers to join the movement.”
For more information, visit lalgbtcenter.org/TEEPcareers