Transgenders seek state help with employment

SACRAMENTO The transgender community really wants to be counted as equal. The state doesn't know how many of them use public services. The transgender community estimates it's probably a high number. Without jobs, they need healthcare subsidies and other help.

Drian Juarez is transgender and knows how much of a struggle it is to find a job.

"If you don't look like what they expect a man or woman to look like, you instantly lose the job, even if you have the qualifications," said Drian Juarez, program manager, /*Transgender Economic Empowerment Project*/.

Members of California's transgender community held their first /*Transgender Advocacy Day*/ at the state Capitol. Their goal is to make lawmakers aware of their struggles, like high unemployment and underemployment.

Among other things, they want state government forms to include boxes like "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to be able to get more publicly funded job-services help.

State /*Assemblyman Ted Lieu*/ (D-Torrance), who is running for state attorney general, has introduced a bill that would do that.

"It gives policymakers the data from which we can then make decisions on how to target scarce government resources," said Lieu.

"We collect too much of this data in the first place," said state /*Assemblyman Roger Niello*/ (R-Sacramento). Niello opposes the bill.

While it will cost up $12 million to change the forms, Niello thinks they're losing sight of one of the country's founding principles: unity.

"The more we seek to categorize people into small little groups, the more we defeat that purpose, and for what purpose? I just don't see any particular benefit," said Niello.

Transgender people went office to office hoping to change minds.

"If we can address transpeople's needs, I think we can definitely help our economy," said Juarez.

In justifying the extra help, the /*Transgender Law Center*/ points out income disparities: The average income for a Californian with a bachelor's degree earns about $50,000 per year. A transgender person with the same degree earns less than $30,000 per year.

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