Navigating The Job Search As A Transgender Candidate

By Magnolia Potter

From start to finish, looking for a job is a stressful endeavor for many Americans. Securing gainful employment can be difficult in the best of times, and the process becomes even more complex for certain demographics. For example, transgender job seekers may find that their sexual identity is a hindrance to finding a job. 

And there’s data to back it up. As of 2015, the unemployment rate for gender-nonconforming individuals sits at 15%. That number is three times higher than the national unemployment rate (5%) at the time of the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

So what’s a transgender job seeker to do? How can you best manage your job search as a transgender person? What should you avoid, and how can you advocate for yourself while also looking for a job that’s the right fit? Whether you’re looking to boost your current salary or turn your hobby into a career, here are some job search best practices for transgender candidates. 

The Job Search Process

Generally speaking, the job search process looks similar for most people, no matter their gender identity. You begin by seeking out a company you want to work for that’s also hiring, for a position you’re qualified to take on. Your resume should be ready to go, and you may also want to put together an online employment profile. 

LinkedIn is essentially the go-to among job search social media platforms, though sites such as Planted and Indeed are growing in popularity. No matter the platform, however, your job search profile should contain several key elements. It’s recommended that you incorporate a professional profile photo, a catchy headline, and engaging content. Trans and gender non-conforming job seekers should take an extra step and ensure name and identity consistency across all relevant documents. 

As for disclosing your gender identity, it’s completely up to you how much you want to share. But keep in mind that employers may perform a thorough background check on potential candidates. Your birth identity is likely to pop up during a background check, potentially putting you on the spot in the event of a subsequent interview. 

It’s important to note that your personal information that’s also public record is fair game among employers looking to learn more about you. For other types of information, however, such as your credit report, you must give your consent before a potential employer can legally gather that information. Employers are not allowed to collect medical records during a pre-employment background check.

Finding the Best Fit

In a perfect world, we all have jobs that we love and that respect our self-identity completely, with a generous benefits package and a competitive salary. Reality is much less ideal, of course. Instead, taking on a job typically requires a small amount of sacrifice — for example, we may forego a rapid commute for a heftier salary or dynamic company culture. On the other end of the spectrum, however, most of us have certain principles and workplace expectations that aren’t negotiable.

For transgender candidates, medical coverage is one area that shouldn’t be negotiable. Especially if you’re on hormones, it’s important to determine what an employer’s insurance policy covers even before you agree to come in for an interview. Ask the company’s HR professional or the insurance company itself to see if hormone replacement therapy is covered, and the amount of co-pays you can expect. 

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), for example, is a type of hormone therapy for cis women going through menopause that might be covered under your employer’s insurance. Because it is likely to be paid for by an insurance provider, transgender hormone therapies may be covered as well. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ask potential employers about insurance coverage specifics. 

The good news is that businesses of all sizes, and in increasing numbers, boast transgender-inclusive benefits. Major U.S. employers with transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage include Adidas North America Inc., Target Corp., and Starbucks Corp. Along with medical coverage, trans job seekers should take a look at the benefits package offered by a potential employer. For example, what’s the policy regarding medical appointments and time off?

Nailing the Interview

Once you have found an attractive job opportunity and revamped your employment profile, it’s time to wait for the offers to roll in. For many jobs, however, you’ll have to nail the interview. And determining how much to disclose about your gender identity is just a small aspect of a multifaceted process.

It may be much easier for you to put on a crisp shirt and shine your work shoes than it is to actually answer interview questions. If you’re nervous, there’s plenty you can do to be well-prepared on the big day. Prepare for basic interview questions that may come up, such as the ways in which you deal with pressure and your definition of customer service.

Don’t be afraid to practice those questions, in front of a mirror if you have to. The more prepared you are for the questions that are likely to come up, the more you’ll feel at ease. By cultivating a relaxed state during the interview process, you may become more willing to disclose personal information, such as your gender identity and/or pronoun preferences. But keep in mind that the decision is ultimately yours to make: According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC), employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, so it’s completely within your rights to avoid the subject altogether during the interview process. Employers are also prohibited from asking questions in the pre-employment process that may be used to determine any sort of membership in a protected class, such as a minority or LGBTQ.

Key Takeaways

When you’re searching for the perfect job, research is a major part of the process. Just as you can’t find a job in the medical field without conducting research, you shouldn’t go blindly into the field if you’re transgender, either. Your best bet is to find a company with policies that you can get behind, and then work to nail your interview.

Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.