Hundreds of transgender and gender non-binary people turned out for a job fair in downtown Los Angeles this week, making it one of the largest ever events of its kind.
Hiring managers from 80 different companies, including Starbucks, Bank of America, Paramont Pictures, and Sony, spoke with more than 400 job seekers on Wednesday, CBS2 reports.
“It’s hard for our community to find jobs. Just the fact that this exists is amazing,” said attendee Jasmine Mosbar.
Studies have shown that transgender people are two to three times more likely to be unemployed compared to the general U.S. population.
“It’s really important to me cause finding work is like being gender nonconforming or trans or just like queer in general. It has been kind of difficult,” shared another job seeker, Herinn Palacios, who traveled from Sacramento to attend the event.
Before the fair, organizers held a training for company representatives on transgender issues, and how best to accommodate and understand trans and non-conforming workers. Onsite training is also in the works.
Organizer Jason Hill told Paper Magazine they got companies on board by reaching out personally, sometimes going through sales associates and cashiers to gain contacts of higher ups.
“I was blown away by the response I got from participants,” they said. “I honestly expected weird looks or rude questions, and none of that happened.”
“This is important, because I used to be really broke,” Hill said while appearing on the YouTube channel Caroland. “I didn’t always have a good job. I didn’t always have health care. It was a completely, completely, completely different life that I was leading. And so many community members are leading that life right now, not because they’re not qualified for jobs, but because they’re not being hired by employers. So that’s what we’re doing, we’re changing that.”