Transgender/Transsexual/Transgender people and Careers (Struggles)
My name is Shaida Ghamsari, and I'm reaching out to you due to the fact that I have great interest in the possibility of obtaining information for future references (both personal and for my coursework) to learn more about how Transgender Youth and young adults especially go about adjusting to careers, career development, job seeking, etc.
I would like to know how counselors and career counselors especially can help transgender people overcome fears, barriers, difficulties, and help them seek jobs that will make them happy and comfortable doing.
For example, what careers are transgender people in Canada typically interested in? Any particular patterns?
Any resources or insight you are willing to share regarding job search skills and strategies transgender youth (or older individuals) use in order to job search, make themselves job ready, prepare for different career paths, etc would be appreciated.
If you feel you can't answer my questions, I'd really appreciate it if you could offer me the name or contact information of someone who can answer all my questions.
A computer crash ate a particularly long answer I had started, and as such I had to psyche myself up to re-answering. An inability to 'draft' is a big disadvantage.
Now, the first thing that I'd like to approach is your use of the word 'transgender' here. While I understand that you are wanting to help individuals who are in a still-sensitive situation, the first thing to remember is that they are not "A transgender," but that they are "a transgender person". The word *person* is the important part here: a transgender individual is not an alien race or strange culture all unto itself. It is a person of that group, that race, that culture, even that gender, who is looking for a job.
As such, as a job counsellor, that is the first thing that I strongly suggest acquainting yourself with: treating them that way. While yes, there may be unique problems, imagine if a one-legged man came into the room. The question doesn't become "What kind of job do one-leggers have?", but rather, "What career does this man want to have, and what challenges come about from his personal ability?" Exactly the same as anyone else.
That's really a roundabout way of saying that to your question about helping them overcoming fears, barriers, and difficulties would be:
Step 1: Remember that they are people.
Step 2: Treat them like any other people, and show them that you are an ally *by* treating them as they ask to be treated.
Judgment is the most poisonous atmosphere that any person can experience, and for transgender people, their comfort level *needs* to start with the people they work with. So start there: start by teaching the *counsellors* that a transgender person is just a person. Ask what pronoun they prefer if you need, but unless they ask to be treated differently, or voice that they have abilities/disabilities to something, don't treat them any different than any cisgender person that comes through the door. And even if they *do* voice abilities/disabilities, don't treat them any differently than a cisgender person with those abilities disabilities for the most part (yes, there are going to be a few exceptions, but they're going to be further apart than you might think).
Asking "What kind of Careers do Transgender people like?" can only be answered by, "Ones that they are qualified for and like." Again, see above about 'transgender people are people first and transgender second'. They don't, as far as I'm aware, gravitate toward jobs, other than wanting jobs where they are accepted as they are and that fits their desires. Most of those are less about a specific career and more about the atmosphere of the job. Whatever career they want, I strongly suggest making sure that you confirm with them their anti-harassment rules, and do what you can to make sure said job place(s) have a sympathetic individual to make sure those rules are followed.
If your client is not yet under transition, but plans to, things can change slightly. Many PR departments have rules as to where an individual needs to come out to their co-workers a certain amount of time before starting to transition visibly. This is to give the workers a chance to come to terms with using new pronouns and a new name, while getting used to their co-worker's changes. Encourage they check those rules, if it is not something the counsellor would do for themselves. Believe it or not, most of those are for the safety of the transgender individual as well as the comfort of the people. It is an important step for many, and helps keep the peace in a large workspace (especially something like an office).
Now, for websites, while it hasn't been updated in a long while and unfortunately has a few broken links, 'The Center For Gender Sanity' has great information, both for people looking for work, and for the employers. They have several courses and books about sensitivity that may be of help to your people as well as potentially helping to put together with your clients something that can help out if they are experiencing difficulty.
The University For Vermont has a great PDF handout (https://www.ou.edu/career/pdfs/FAQtransjobseekers.pdf) for 'FAQ’s for Transgender Job Seekers'. Obviously it is more specifically toward the people looking for work, but many of the helpful links they have are great information sources, as well as potentially people you can connect with. Vermont may not be Canada, it's true, but the basics of information are much the same when it comes to 'disclosure' and 'acceptance'. Just because Canada may soon have a nation-wide anti-discrimination policy doesn't mean discrimination magically goes away.
The HRC Corporate Quality Index (http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index
) may also be of some help here: it won't have every single job location, but it will give you a solid feeling for what locations have brought up what sort of transgender issues, and which ones have been comfortable for people.
Using Google for 'suggestions to Transgender job seekers' (or the like) will also be of big help to you: it will show you the areas that they are primarily being told to check, and prepare you for questions that you may be asked, as well as job difficulties they may have. There are more things than will show up there, of course (because, again: people are individuals) but being pre-prepared with the information they will likely come to you looking for is a good plan.
Hopefully that was enough information. If there is anything I'm missing, please don't be afraid to do a follow-up and let me know if you have any specifics that I could give more on. I'll see what I can find!
As usual, any questions, comments, feedback, or follow-ups, are welcome!