Career builder: getting transgender people work during the roughest job market in decades.
JAMIE WOLFE LEFT HER teaching job at a Los Angeles private school in 2008 because she didn't think she could comfortably transition, from male to female, there. And although she was confident she was making a positive step in her personal life by moving to San Francisco, she was less certain if she'd be able to find a job once she got there.
Finding--or keeping--a job is "a difficult struggle" for many transgender people, says the 32-year-old Wolfe. "And a lot of us go through it alone."
But after finding the free services of the San Francisco-based Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, Wolfe had help with her job search. And with that assistance from TEEI, she found another teaching position in 2009.
Founded in 2007 as a joint venture of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, the Jewish Vocational Service, and the Transgender Law Center, TEEI celebrated its 100th job placement in March. At press time that number was up to more than 120, according to Clair Farley, transgender economic development coordinator at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.
The Center and JVS provide job leads; additionally, JVS offers workshops and counseling on marketing oneself, and volunteers from the LGBT Center help mentor job-seekers. For its part, the Transgender Law Center ensures TEEI clients know their legal rights--the city of San Francisco and state of California both prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The collaborating agencies all help educate employers on gender issues and employment.
For Wolfe, TEEI provided more than tangible benefits.
"Knowing such a thing exists helped my morale," she says.