Reporting from San Francisco — — An economic empowerment program for transgender people has been saved from extinction in last-minute budget negotiations.
The Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative has served as a model for a similar program in Los Angeles and inspired cities nationwide to create job fairs targeting the transgender community. More than half its funding was slated to be cut by San Francisco city officials struggling to plug a $483-million budget hole. But an outpouring of community support and impassioned political backing by San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty paid off.
Mayor Gavin Newsom restored nearly half a million dollars in funding to the program Wednesday, among $2.5 million of reversals in cuts to public health, mental health, family and employment service programs, said spokesman Tony Winnicker, noting that "with unemployment still unacceptably high in our state, it's a priority to preserve employment and jobs programs with a strong record of helping people get back to work."
According to a recent study, transgender Californians are twice as likely as the general population to possess college degrees, yet their unemployment and poverty rates are twice the state average. Resume gaps due to time off for gender transition, problems with references, and discrimination are among the barriers that people face.