The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) has announced the graduation of 17 transgender individuals from its Project Empowerment, and according to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the event underscores the city's commitment to reduce employment barriers among District residents.
"The District of Columbia has the distinction of being the only local, county or state jurisdiction in the nation to provide coaching, counseling, resume writing and other employment-related services specifically for the transgender community," Gray said in an Oct. 7 statement. "City government is supposed to meet the needs of all residents and that is what we intend to do to ensure that every resident of the District of Columbia who wants a job has the skills and training necessary to get a job."
A 2009 survey revealed an estimated 42 percent rate of unemployment in the District's transgender population. Nationally, transgender people experienced double the rate of unemployment than the general population as well as significant job losses and extremely high rates of on-the-job harassment and maltreatment, according to a recent survey by the National Transgender Center for Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"Our hope is that by providing services to the transgender community we will reinforce how dedicated we are to serving all segments of our population and helping them find jobs," said DOES Director Lisa M. Mallory.