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Transgender advocates push for workplace protections

May 17, 2010 7:56:18 PM PDT
Members of the transgender community are pushing Sacramento lawmakers for better protections in the workplace.

Drian Juarez, of the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, is transgender and knows how much of a struggle it is to find a job.

"If you don't look like what they expect a man or woman to look like, you instantly lose the job, even if you have the qualifications," Juarez said.

Members of California's transgender community held their first Advocacy Day at the state Capitol. Their goal is to make lawmakers aware of their struggles, like high unemployment and under-employment.

Among other things, they want state government forms to include boxes like sexual orientation and gender identity to be able to get more publicly-funded job services help.

Assm. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who is running for attorney general, has introduced a bill that would do that.

"It gives policymakers the data for which we can then make decisions on how to target scarce government resources," he said.

Assm. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, opposes the bill.

While it will cost up $12 million to change the forms, he thinks they are losing sight of one of the country's founding principle -- unity.

"The more we seek to categorize people into small little groups, the more we defeat that purpose and for what purpose? I don't see any particular benefit," Niello said.

Transgender people went office to office hoping to change minds.

"If we can address transpeople's needs, we can definitely help our economy," Juarez said.

The Transgender Law Center points out that the average California income for a person with a Bachelor's Degree is about $50,000 per year; a transgender person with the same degree earns less than $30,000 per year.


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