Today, CNN's Blake Ellis reported on the difficulty transgender and transsexual men and women face when seeking employment. Chronicling personal stories from a number of trans individuals, the report indicates how employers are far less likely (and in some cases refuse) to hire someone exclusively on the basis of their gender identity and gender presentation, even if they have open positions to fill. One job seeker, Rebecca Juro, explained she often receives conflicting stories from employers, telling her certain positions have already been filled, even though official postings online indicate otherwise.
Jennifer Chavez, who has over four decades of experience within the auto industry, stated that she has essentially been "blackballed" by the majority of the auto industry in Atlanta after completing gender reassignment. Following a long and difficult stretch of unemployment, she was able to secure a full-time job with Pep Boys, but earns only half the annual income she did prior to her transition. Little data is collected and reported on unemployment within the transgender and transsexual community, but the National Center for Transgender Equality found "the transgender jobless rate to be 14% -- double the national rate -- and as high as 28% for black respondents." The Transgender Law Center also states that "[d]iscrimination is a major contributor to the tremendously high rates of unemployment and underemployment faced by transgender people."
Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information, and Personal Accounts (2001) notes that "[f]amily, social, and community rejection, in addition to reduced educational and employment opportunities, create an environment in which transgender individuals are commonly subjected to discrimination, homelessness, unemployment, and poverty." As such, a number of transgender and transsexual individuals (especially trans women) may have no other choice than to become sex workers in order to provide themselves income. Such is the case with Keisha Allen, according to the CNN report, who at age 45, has engaged in sex work since she was 16 and earns less than $12,000 dollars annually. Additionally, Contemporary Research On Sex Work (2005) by Jeffrey T. Parsons documents that many trans women facing unemployment rely on sex work to earn money and retain shelter. Even with a number of social programs developing across the country designed specifically to assist transgender and transsexual individuals find employment, advocacy groups continue to push for federal anti-discrimination laws protecting gender identity, the lack of which is considered to be the root of the problem.