Vincent Gray, mayor of the District of Columbia, has given the go ahead for a ground breaking program specifically aimed at job training and placement for transgender members of the D.C. community.
Gray announced that he would direct the city’s Department of Employment Services to begin this program at a meeting with members of the trans community on August 4.
“The Department of Employment Services will run a pilot of their transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community,” said Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, who attended the meeting. ”The program includes six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment,” he said.
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.
A blog post from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a group that was also present at the meeting, gives us more of an insight into Mayor Gray’s plans which, they say, include:
1. Expanded diversity programs for D.C. government employees with a focus on LGBT and specifically transgender cultural competency. The D.C. Department of Human Resources (DHR) together with the Office of Human Rights (OHR), and other agencies will work together to develop appropriate training materials for District government employees. This will be completed by October 1.
2. The Department of Employment Services will begin a pilot employment program for transgender community members that will offer six weeks training and subsidized paid employment .
Alongside this, the Department of Human Resources will also explore a policy similar to the federal Schedule A which gives agencies authority to make non-competitive appointments of persons with disabilities so as to encourage trans employment opportunities.
The meeting was facilitated by the actions of transgender activist Jeri Hughes, who submitted proposals ahead of time on how she thinks D.C. can best combat the chronic unemployment rate of its trans citizens, and particularly trans women. She charges that, contrary to the D.C. Human Rights Act which bans gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination in employment related decision making, trans women are still being denied entry-level positions based not on their skills but on their gender identity.
Hughes is quoted in the Washington Blade as saying that while the trans community didn’t get everything that they asked for — for instance no agreement on a transgender coordinator to oversee these changes — she is grateful to Gray for the steps he has taken.
Gray has agreed to a follow-up meeting in just under a months time to discuss progress made and what more can be done.