The third annual Transgender Job Fair returns to MetroHealth this weekend, offering a welcoming space for men and women too often stuck on the wrong end of employment discrimination in Ohio.
The job fair brings a bunch of inclusive companies together — many of them national brands, like Starbucks and Progressive — and introduces them to transgender men and women seeking work in the Cleveland area.
"It is simply to provide opportunity for a group of people that sometimes has difficulty accessing work," says Ginger Marshall, a member of Metro's patient/family advisory council and a transgender woman herself. "We tend to get screened out."
She's referring to the process of employers running background checks and finding incongruities between prospective employees' legal names and, say, former names that might show up on credit reports or other records from the past. Those can be explained away, of course, but very often employers will shut down the screening process if differently gendered names are coming up — well before any HR rep even picks up the phone for a first-round interview.
That's where the Transgender Job Fair comes in, and, by all accounts, last year's event
was a big step in a helpful direction.
"It's kind of old-fashioned," Marshall says. "I don't know if you've looked for work lately, but the process is horrendous: online applications that can take a couple of hours to fill out. You get screened out by machines based on keywords, and you never actually talk to a human being."
We'll return briefly to a major report published by the Williams Institute a few years back
: "As recently as 2010, 78 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity." Some cities maintain legal language that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression — and some companies do, too — but this sort of discrimination lurks far more systemically that local legislators might publicly admit.
Gov. John Kasich, for his part, says
he hasn't heard about anything like that. On the campaign trail last year, with regard to anti-LGBT discrimination, he remarked
: "If you’re feeling like somebody is doing something wrong against you, can you just for a second get over it?"
If you're not willing to just for a second get over it, then new employment opportunities await. The job fair runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at MetroHealth's main medical campus, right off of West 25th Street.
theater critic Christine Howey will be speaking!
Registration is not required, but highly encouraged. Register here
. A hot breakfast will be provided.