Transgender Day of Remembrance Blog – Transwork: Economic Development in the Transgender Community

Transgender people successfully work in a variety of professions, including serving in our military (photo: KOTA News)

Please do check out several additional useful links at the bottom of this blog!

Each year on or near November 20th, many communities hold their Transgender Day or Remembrance (link to information from GLAAD), or TDOR, as it is often called, an annual memorial ceremony held for transgender people who have lost their lives to violence in the prior year. But certainly, any kind of remembrance should also spur people to take action to assist those who are living. There are still a high proportion of transgender people dealing with severe economic hardship.

In Philadephia, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce affiliate chapter, the Independence Business Alliance, is kicking off “Transwork,” an innovative solution to address this issue.

THE ISSUE: 29% of transgender people are living in poverty compared to 14% of the general US population, and the trans unemployment of 15% is 3 times the national average. 30% of trans people have been fired, denied a promotion, or harassed in the workplace due to their gender identity. Transgender people, traditionally under-employed and after several bad experiences, start to distrust programs and institutions. And in going into interviews, criminal records, former incarceration, and conflicting names and gender markers on identity documents further complicates gaining employment.

AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION: The Transwork program actually has three components:

1. Assisting trans and non-binary folks to prepare for the job market through a job board, job fairs, supportive vocational services, resume / interviewing coaching and a resume bank.

2. Training employers and workforce development providers to provide safe, effective and culturally competent environments.

3. Promoting trans entrepreneurship as another viable alternative to working for an organization.

Transgender woman Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapies and former CEO of SiriusXM, is the highest paid CEO in the country. But she is a rare exception to the rule of the underemployment of skillful transgender people. (photo by Andre Chung)

And what is really fantastic is that the Philadelphia team wants to share this program with everyone. They are currently packaging the methodology to share with other National LGBT Chamber local affiliates so they can launch a similar program themselves!

CURRENT STATUS: The website has now launched; check out for a lot more details. They are developing a first-phase resume bank, working on recruiting and training employers, and plan to conduct a pilot employment program in the coming year. They have just launched the entrepreneurship part of the program, including workshops about trans business ownership, assistance with NGLCC business certification, and mentorship. They will be preparing a toolkit for other locations around the country to implement similar programs. You can contact the Transwork team through their website.

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Other related blogs and an organizational self assessment: Please check out these additional related blogs and tools below:

The Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer’s 12 question organizational transgender readiness self-assessment

Affinity Magazine article, “Seven Steps to Supporting Transgender Employees in the Workplace”

My editorial blog, “Yet One More Way to Oppress Transgender Americans.”

2016 Transgender Day of Remembrance – Guest Blog by transgender business leader and consultant Elaine Martin