COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Finding a job is hard enough, but those who are transgender say it’s even worse.
“The National Center for Transgender Equality” released a study showing that the jobless rate among the group is at 14 percent, double the national rate.
Central Ohio is not immune to the issue, either.
Several transgender individuals said they are not surprised by the transgender jobless rate.
Many of them said that just about every day, they endure some kind of discrimination either in their personal or professional life.
Questions about Shane Wheeler’s gender surround him daily.
“They’ll ask me, leave me notes, say something to my coworkers and it’s uncomfortable,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler went on to describe one such encounter.
“He stepped in front of me, looked down at me and said, ‘Are you a female?’ And my voice cracked and I said, ‘No,'” he said.
Wheeler said being a transgender man has cost him potential jobs. He remembers telling a potential employer he is trans.
”And it got really quiet and then 30 seconds later, we are going to wrap up and let you know how it goes and we will call you if we want to call you for an interview,” he said. “Five minutes after I hung up the phone, the position was magically filled,” said Wheeler.
Lena Tenney with the non-profit Trans Ohio hears these stories time and time again. They, too, have lived it.
“It’s a constant worry actually even going to job interview knowing how authentic I can be,” Tenney said. “Can I wear a bow tie to this job interview? Will that affect my chances of getting employed? Ohio does not have statewide protection for LGBTQ folks in Ohio.”Trans Ohio holds job fairs and offers services to help trans and non-binary people get work.
Tenney has seen what can happen when transgender people have to do whatever it takes to survive.
“It’s actually not uncommon in our community when you are disenfranchised from more mainstream forms of employment sometimes out of survival. You only have certain options and that may include sex work. We need a lot of legislation. We need the Ohio Fairness Act to pass,’ said Tenney.