LGBT Coalition Grant Focuses on Perception of Transgender Women

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lgbtcoalition_revNORTHAMPTON, Mass. — The LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts is the recipient of a grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. The grant was awarded based on the Diversity Heroes Project proposal, which sets to challenge society’s perception of transgender women through outreach, education and advocacy.

The Diversity Heroes Project is an extensive program developed to increase employment opportunities for transgender women in Western Massachusetts through a three-part initiative including diversity trainings for businesses, skills workshops for unemployed and underemployed transgender women, as well as a job fair and other opportunities that brings together employers and prospective employees.

“This program will bring together employable transgender women and a wide range of employers from Western Massachusetts,” explained LGBT Coalition Executive Director Suzanne Seymour. “Diversity training is an important aspect in understanding the struggles that these women face, which is why this program is necessary.”

The program will counter the negative perceptions of transgender women in the workplace by conducting diversity training for employers. “Almost half of trans people and a majority of trans women in a recent national study reported that they had been fired, not hired, or not promoted because of their gender identity,” states Genny Beemyn, Director of the UMass Stonewall Center and  a co-facilitator of the trainings. “These trainings and workshops can help make the situation different in Western Massachusetts.”

The Coalition has also focused on collecting information and statistics on the discrimination against transgender women in the workplace. “Not enough is known about the experiences of these women surrounding the issues of discrimination, resulting in insufficient efforts to address this issue,” said Seymour. In response to this, the Coalition has created a survey to compile information from community members and plans to distribute the results as part of a public education initiative.

The job skills workshop will provide information and opportunities to hone interview skills, talk about the discrimination and issues that transgender women face as well as presenting as a strong and empowered individual within the employment realm. The workshop will be presented by Baystate Health, and will be held on April 4 at the Baystate Conference Center in Holyoke. CareerPoint will also be at the presentation discussing the services they provide.

For more information about the Diversity Heroes Project, business diversity trainings, or to register for the job skills workshop, contact the Coalition at www.lgbtcoalitionwma.org (413)-588-1018 or director@lgbtcoalitionwma.org.

The Women’s Fund is committed to advancing social change philanthropy to create economic and social justice for women and girls in Western Massachusetts.

The LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts is a 501(C)(3)non-profit organization established to improve and preserve the well-being of LGBT and Queer-identified people of all races and ethnicities through education, advocacy and outreach programs. The Coalition strives to build stronger communities and families by bridging the gaps between LGBT members and mainstream society.

[From a News Release]