Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HRC Wants To Put Our Trans Brothers and Sisters "Back To Work"

Times are tough for everybody right now. I don't think I know a single person that hasn't been negatively effected by the economy, to the point were there really is no such thing as a disposable income anymore. Work has become a precious commodity these days and very hard to find. We have had many gay friends lose jobs to the poor economy only to struggle for months to find new work...some are still looking months after they have been let go. There's no doubt that times are tough..and they don't care if you are gay. straight, bisexual, or transgendered.

However....having had my eyes opened to transgendered struggles over the last two years, I know how hard it can be for Trans people to navigate many of the things we take for granted, without suffering massive amounts of fear, ignorance, and discrimination....and job hunting has got to be tough even in a good economy. was with great surprise that I read on Pam's House Blend  that HRC is launching a program to give job training and job finding assistance to transgendered people....What? The same HRC that has suffered so much criticism for being completely ineffective yes men?...yup, the very same...
The Program Called .... Back To Work: Empowering Transgendered Job Seekers . This is how the HRC's web page describes the program:

Transgender Americans are highly employable job candidates. But they need superior, specialized job-hunting skills to help overcome hiring biases.

HRC's Back to Work project empowers transgender Americans who are unemployed or underemployed to find jobs that match their unique expertise and experience, providing them with essential skills to make the most of the job market and get back to work.

Join us February 26-27 in Boston for a two-day seminar covering every aspect of the job hunting process, from refining your search to dealing with your gender identity and history to closing the deal on salary and benefits. The first 30 registrants will receive personalized assistance from a certified career coach after the seminar ends, free of cost, including resume development, interview tips, negotiation skills and more.
Now...I can't run a story about the HRC without pointing out  that there are some criticisms and limitations to the program. First... many Gay men and women feel rather burned by HRC because of their past inactions in lobbying for our rights while at the same time asking for more money.  And.... from what I understand, the HRC's relationship with the Trans community is much worse. Many who have commented on the program claim that nothing HRC can do will make up for it's past faults and the transphobia they have witnessed in it's upper management. Others have also rightly pointed out, that this program focuses on white collar jobs with little or no focus on trans blue collar workers.

And my observation...this program is limited to the Boston area. That's great if you live in Boston but for a national organization it would have been nicer to see this as a much bigger push in major urban areas across the nation. Leading the program is HRC's Associate Director of Diversity, Allyson Robinson. Being that she is the driving force behind the program, would it not have been more effective to have her train others and send them out to run local versions of this program... instead of being one very knowledgeable person personally running the show in one area? Trans people are out of work across the nation just like everyone else and I think we could have gotten more bang for our donated buck.

That said....

I personally don't really care that It's the HRC doing this. The label on the outside is less important than the work that gets done. I think it's awesome that a program like this exists at all, and would love to see it grow to help more people, in more places. In remembering my friend Carina and the pressures she faced transitioning and dealing with her workplace on top of everything may have made a difference to her survival if she didn't have to hide who she was at work or suffer the ignorant attitudes of others. Working for a company that acknowledges the skills and basic humanity of trans people may save a life and at the very least, take one weight off some very overburdened shoulders. If this program helps even a few, it will be worth it. However, I think it has the potential to do so much more than help just a few....just my opinion.

In a time when so many people are struggling, having resources that understand your unique circumstances may give you the boost you need to succeed.

To learn more about HRC's "Back To Work"  program, please go to:

And as a bonus, I found  a San Francisco based service connecting gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered workers with interested employers in the San Francisco bay area. Check them out at:

And let's get back to work!

Until next time dear readers....


  1. Thanks so much for taking a few moments to write about this program! It's something I've been working to put together and fund for almost a year and a half, and it's really exciting that so many people are talking about it.

    Your point about location is an excellent one - people everywhere need help, don't they? This event in Boston is the first, but it won't be the last. I've received sufficient funding in the pilot round for 3-4 workshops to test and refine the idea and up to 120 individual follow-on support packages, and we'll be announcing the next locations soon. Concurrently, I'm working on securing a second round of funding that will allow us to hold 12-15 more workshops in the months ahead.

    I agree with you - there's so much potential here. The Boston seminar is filling faster than even I imagined. We have participants coming from as far as Idaho to attend! As we learn from these pilot workshops and refine our model, my hope is that soon we'll be able to take Back to Work into communities all over the country.

    Thanks again for helping get the word out!

    (P.S. You have a *beautiful* family!)

  2. @Allyson Wow..thanks for reading! I am really glad to hear that there is more funding and more workshops on the way. Thats a step in the right direction....Now if we can just do something about those pesky work place non-discrimination laws :/


  3. Sounds like a good program and a step in the right derection, I to would think adding a foucus on bluecollor jobs would not hurt, but then again even during the ressesion the war on bluecollor jobs in this country has waged as strong as ever in recent history, heck the war on american jobs is even starting to take out swaths of what where whitecollor jobs. It seems these day that the only safe jobs are CEO and bord or dericets or a service typ job that is totaly unable to be sent overseas. And even those our underseage wtih layoffs pay freezes and demands for pay reductions as CEO's and top excutive incress their pay, benifits and bounus. I think that the time is well over due in this country for the labor movement and labor unions to come back into stronger power.