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September 20, 2011

Gray administration launches pilot program for transgender employment

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(Transgender women receive job training from D.C.'s Project Empowerment program. Photo by Armando Trull)

Armando Trull at WAMU reports:

The District of Columbia has launched the first program in the country to help transgendered women and men overcome workplace discrimination.

It's been a violent year for transgendered women in D.C. with one murder and multiple assaults. It's no surprise for Latisa Mormon, who 's been a sex worker in the District.

"I've been brutally beat on my head with seven baseball bats, left me unconscious," she says. "I've been stabbed in my face as you can see. I've been a victim of a gunshot."

A total of 21 transgendered people, including Jamie Gunner, are participating in Project Empowerment's pilot program to help them escape unemployment and, in some cases, the mean streets of D.C.

"I want to be a productive citizen of society," says Gunner. "I want to get back into the workforce."

Entering the workforce isn' t easy, explains Gunner: "Sometimes you can over-qualify for the job and when you get there and they see that you're transgendered, they don't hire you."

When I joined several transgender activists in a meeting with Mayor Vincent Gray on August 4 dealing with transgender employment issues, the Mayor made it clear he wanted action items and not just a pleasant conversation. This is the first step. The employment barriers faced by transgender people are daunting, and require a persistent, proactive approach by public officials to combat. Thanks to the Mayor for making a start. We never even got a meeting with his predecessor.

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