Recent news stories have highlighted breakthroughs and challenges for transgender Americans, both young and old, in the workforce and in our families. As he begins his transition journey, Kye Allums has gotten approval to remain on the George Washington University women’s basketball team. Like many in the college generation today, his teammates came around pretty quickly, supporting their coach’s decision to be inclusive. To help high school and college athletic programs navigate a world in which more transgender students are coming out, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and It Takes a Team! have co-published a guide for schools,which was cited in the New York Times article.
That same week, a Huffington Post column by Joanne Herman highlighted the challenges coming up for an earlier generation of transgender people as they age, often bringing the legacy of unemployment, under-insurance and mistreatment by health care providers into their final years. This story shows how urgent equal employment opportunity is for transgender Americans. The Pride Agenda is working to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State as soon as possible.
That urgency heightens the significance of the breakthrough last week by Victoria Kolakowski, who won her election as California’s Alameda County Superior Court Judge—the first transgender trial judge in the country. Unfortunately, it is all-too-common for transgender people to lose their jobs when they transition.
A moving story in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine makes passing reference to the likelihood that an emerging transwoman, who teaches music at a Catholic school in the Bronx, will lose "his" job. But the focus of that story is on the journey of this transwoman’s sister, from resistance to acceptance, as her “brother” becomes her “sister.”
Everyone who is in circle of a transgender individual – family, friends and colleagues - goes through their own transition along with them. Indeed, inclusive workplace policies and trainings have a broad impact. Both our Pride in My Workplace and Pride in Our Union programs provide the trainings that can support not only transgender employees, but also the employees and union members who are family and friends of transgender Americans.
Post by Desma Holcomb, Program Director