When transgender people are job hunting, they don’t have the luxury of time, said Daye Pope, transgender-rights organizer with Equality Pennsylvania.
“A lot of transgender people don’t have the backup support of families if they’ve been rejected,” Pope told PGN. “They can’t necessarily spend five months looking for work, living with their parents. They really have to find a solution right now.”
Pope attended a day-long institute on economic justice for transgender and gender nonconforming people at Creating Change, the annual conference hosted this year in Chicago by the National LGBTQ Task Force. She said the topic dovetails nicely with Equality Pennsylvania’s push for a nondiscrimination law that includes LGBT protections across the state.
“But it also goes beyond that,” Pope said. “Definitely, legal discrimination is huge. Struggling with legal gender and name changes, navigating a job search and having to explain that to potential employers can be really challenging.”
Others representing Philadelphia organizations at the conference also attended the economic justice institute, including Naiymah Sanchez, Trans-Health Information Project Coordinator with GALAEI: A Queer Latin@ Social Justice Organization; and Le Thomas, president of Philadelphia Black Pride.
“We talked about key points in history that built us up to economic justice for ourselves personally,” Sanchez said, “like our key points as activists or service providers.”
She said it boosted movement morale to spend time assessing the progress in transgender visibility that paved the way for deeper conversations about economic equality.
Thomas, who also works with Sanchez through the Strength Alliance in Philadelphia, said it helped him to attend the workshop with his colleague.
“Any time I felt like there were some questions about what people were saying, I would lean in and get her take on it,” Thomas said. “At times, the trans community can become invisible and I can see that. It was nice to hear their perspective and them wanting a place, not just as the T, but wanting to have that voice that sometimes gets missed.”