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California Tackles Barriers to Work Faced by Trans People

F. Michael Ayaz

According to the National Public Radio, the unemployment rate of transgender people are double the national average. To combat this, California restaurants set up America’s first large-scale program to bring more transgender people back into the workforce. The program started with a trans woman who has provided employment to trans people at her restaurants for seven years.

She bought her first El Pollo Loco franchise in 1988 before her transition. By the end of her transition in 2004, she owned six restaurants all across California. In 2012, she hired a trans employee and learned from them how difficult it was to find employment. This completely changed her recruitment process. Of roughly 150 employees, up to 10% are now transgender.

The Los Angeles Times asserts that despite the continued barriers faced by transgender workers, corporations do want to hire them. For example, more than 70 employers attended the first job fair for transgender and nonbinary individuals in South Los Angeles. Some of the top names among the attendees include the following:

  • Sony
  • Hilton
  • Viacom
  • Starbucks

Some of the available positions for which they sought suitable candidates included entry-level executive assistants and marketers. California as a state has been trying to lift the barriers transgender people face by pushing for the education of employees. For example, Senate Bill 296 requires companies with 50 or more employees to train their workers on issues related to the LGBTQ community, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the Golden State is largely considered one of — if not the most — progressive states for LGBTQ rights, there is still much more work to be done. In the interim, it appears that more and more companies may continue to widen their net to make it easier for trans people to join their workforce. That, at least, is a step in the right direction.

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