At a time when the unemployment rate for trans people in the U.S. is double that of the general population, the San Francisco LGBT Center's Trans at Work campaign highlights the talents of working trans and gender-nonconforming people. Launched today with photographs by Samantha Cooper along with a video, a website, and the hashtags #TransAtWork and #HireTrans, the campaign is the brainchild of the SF LGBT Center's Trans Employment Program, the country's first city-funded employment program specifically for trans and gender-nonconforming people.
The Center's director of economic development, Clair Farley — a trans woman herself — wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News, "We hope people can start talking more about the economic impact of discrimination on the transgender community." She believes that the Trans at Work campaign can help combat prejudices against trans people so they can be seen as valued candidates by potential employers.
Farley also hopes that the campaign will inspire trans people to pursue their ambitions despite the many obstacles they face. "It’s my dream to have the images on billboards and buses, and I want to make sure that no trans person ever feels alone or not able to chase their career goals," she said.
The campaign provided BuzzFeed News with an exclusive first look at the photo series. Following are the portraits of 12 participants, along with a few words about their experiences in the workplace and their feelings about trans employment:
Alic, 35, Pediatric Oncology Nurse
"I want people to know that trans individuals are and can be providers of care. Too often we are seen as having little or no agency within the health care system."
"I am the very first open transgender woman in the 100-year history of the National Park Service, and I’m hoping to change that! I’ve been protecting visitors to the national parks for the last 14 years."
Sophie, 25, Data Scientist, HER
"What I’ve come to learn is that the world doesn’t become a better place on its own. It rests on people like myself sharing their stories and for employers to become comfortable hiring open trans/gender-nonconforming people."
Marissa, 28, Risk Team Leader, Technology Startup
"Everyone deserves the opportunity to forge a path in a career they love, and I wish more trans people had the opportunity to do so."
Caleb, 32, Lawyer
"Trans people bring a unique perspective to every situation in life, and that is an
invaluable characteristic to an employer. I think that employers who won't hire
trans [people] are forgoing an incredible asset for their company."
Ms. Peaches Montrice, Performer and Advocate
"I want to inspire justice and equality for future generations, and I believe there needs to be more social and economic justice for trans women. We have to be able to celebrate our futures and have a better quality of life."
Frida, 26, Community Health Outreach Worker, SFUSD
"It’s important for employers to realize that the perspectives of transgender and gender-nonconforming employees are crucial not only in the work environment, but in a society that has only recently started to shift away from the biological paradigm of sex and gender as fixed binaries."
Candy, Supervising Coordinator, HealthRight 360/Walden House
"I feel that when given the right opportunity, it’s in our nature to be completely dedicated and determined to do the best we can. We just need the chance to do so."
Mia, 25, Director, TAYSF (youth advocacy organization)
"I'm not just dreaming of a world free from discrimination, but I'm also educating
employers on how to best support their trans staff and clients. By surviving in
a world that systematically tries to exterminate people like me, I've already
exceeded people's expectations."
Donna, Advocate and Performer
"In the past, making the decision to live an authentic life was deadly. Today, I’m still here!"
Daphne, 41, Actress, Writer, Software Engineer
"In a world with many obstacles for trans folks, I’m honored and grateful to have
the opportunity to help others develop skills they can use to overcome some of
those challenges. We all deserve a chance to succeed."
Clair, Director of Economic Development, SF LGBT Center
"I believe it is time for companies to step up and take action to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Transforming the workspace starts with hiring trans people and taking steps to change and augment existing policies. As a community, I encourage us to get inspired and chase after our dreams."