A nudge forward in DC

Washington, DC mayor Vince Gray met with LGBT activists on August 4 to discuss transgender employment issues in the District.

In the wake of too many recent transgender deaths and other violence, it sounds to these ears to be a good step forward.  Or at least reasonable.

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Vice President for Political Affairs Rick Rosendall summarized the three commitments drawn from the meeting:

1.  Expand cultural diversity training across District Government with a focus on LGBT and specifically transgender cultural competency. The D.C. Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Office of Human Rights (OHR), and the Office of GLBT Affairs will develop a training module for all District government employees by October 1.

2.  The Department of Employment Services (DOES) will pilot a transitional employment program targeting transgender community members, to include six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment.

3.  DHR will explore the legal issues around use of a ranking factor (requiring agency staff expertise on transgender issues) and implementing a policy similar to the federal Schedule A (which gives agencies authority to make non-competitive appointments of persons with disabilities).

I was encouraged just by the fact that Mayor Gray gave us a meeting that we never got with his predecessor.

But this wasn’t just window-dressing; the Mayor made it clear to the D.C. agency officials whom he brought to the meeting that he wanted action items, otherwise we would just be having a conversation and nothing would come of it. The activists he met with will be following up with Jeff Richardson of the GLBT Affairs Office. We do not know how the legal questions will come out. But we have allies in the Gray administration and they are making an effort. Anti-trans discrimination is entrenched in our society and it will take a long time to overcome. These efforts are just a start.


Apparently it wasn’t all talk, as there was this follow-up on the job training program:

The Department of Employment Services will run a pilot of their transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community.  The program includes six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment.

–Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs

Richardson was referring to an existing program that trains city residents for jobs and reimburses employers participating in the program for part of the salary of the employee accepted in the program.

Jeri Hughes, the transgender activist who requested the meeting, submitted proposals in advance of the meeting citing the city’s poor record of addressing the need of chronically unemployed young transgender women.

Hughes and other transgender activists have said city employers were turning away qualified transgender applicants for entry-level jobs in violation of the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation.

The bottom line is we didn’t get everything we asked for, but we’re getting there.

–Jeri Hughes

Part of what was not gotten was the hiring of a transgender person (or person knowledgable of transgender issues) to serve as a full-time coordinator of transgender related matters.

A follow-up meeting to discuss progress is scheduled for September 3.  


    • Robyn on August 13, 2011 at 00:01

    …about how come there is a program like this focusing on transpeople when there is so much employment all around.

    Thing is, there already has been a program focusing on non-trans people.  Transfolk were generally, as I understand it, turned away from that program.

    There is wording here I object to…like the implication that we are disabled. ¬†Only when it comes to obtaining fairness in employment, mi amigo.

    I’ve been sick for several days and may only be spasmodically available to comment.  The computer is nowhere near the porcelain throne.

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