Let me start by saying that yeah, I know, nobody likes looking for a job.

I just get to have even more fun than most people.

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I wanted to use an editorial comic about job hunting, but wow those things were mean, so here’s a cute animal picture instead.

Dear Hiring Manager,

My name is Eliot W———, and I am a 23-year-old student

My name is Eliot W———- and I am a 23-year-old transgender individual

My name is Eliot W———- and I am just looking for work but also this would be a lot easier if I could know from the start if you’re a bigot

Sigh.

It’s been three months since my contract at my previous job ended. I know that’s how long it’s been, because I’m still an administrator on the Facebook page and today, Facebook told me I haven’t posted on the company page in 90 days. I know that’s how long it’s been because I’ve had to watch my cashflow account shrink, and then my savings account, and then I finally got my ROE and applied for employment insurance, and so on. I know that’s how long it’s been because I’ve memorized the URLs for the three different job boards I follow, all the links on Kijiji past the first page are purple, and I’ve actually got three different mall job pages in my favourites bar on my computer.

And in that regard, I’m sure I’m not that much different than other people my age. I’m sure plenty of people reading this have done what I did this afternoon–walked all the way around the mall once surreptitiously noting all the places that were hiring in a note page on my phone, then sneaking into the “families with young children” washroom when no one is looking because at least there’s no risk I’ll get yelled at or threatened in there, and–

Oh, right. That part’s probably just me.

But more familiar is probably dividing that list of available places into “this company has a good reputation” to “this one might to be okay” to “you’d have to lie about your identity every day you came to work, but hey, at least it’s a job”.

Wait, that’s just me too?

Huh.

Okay. Well, I mean, for what it’s worth, I’m sure I’m not the only bilingual university graduate, with five years of retail experience and two years of key-holding experience, who’s been published in an academic journal and has plenty of other extra-curriculars for that ~well-rounded friendly job-seeker vibe~ who somehow still can’t get an interview to be paid a measly eleven dollars an hour to sell my smile and foam milk. Eleven twenty-five if I manage other people while I do that.

Somehow, being in that boat with a bunch of my peers isn’t all that comforting.

And I mean–I get it. I get that I’m not anyone special. I don’t necessarily deserve work more than anyone else. Lots of us have it tough. And I’m thankful every day for the opportunities I’ve had, recently or less so, that have kept me afloat since I lost my job.

But somehow it just feels a little extra bitter when I look over my workshop notes about how LGBTQ folks are less-likely to be employed. More likely to be fired for discriminatory reasons. More likely to face institutional–and hell, practical–barriers to employment. Stuff like: I can’t get a reference letter under the name I use now. Stuff like: it’s tricky getting academic transcripts and etc. because the university hasn’t finished processing my name change. Stuff like freezing outside of stores, losing my nerve because I’m so tired of that searching look, that double-take, that wordless query I see in so many peoples eyes when I walk in with a resume under my arm. That look that says “what are you?”

And can I blame them? I mean, sure I can. They can couch it in kind language–“we’re just not sure you’re the right fit here,” they worry I’ll make customers uncomfortable if they can’t tell if it’s a guy or a girl helping them pick out $30 jeans at Bluenotes, they don’t wanna be a martyr for queer rights over one kid’s crappy job that isn’t a career for them anyway. And I get that. Paint your transphobia however you want. Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?

How different could it be from the lie I tell myself every time I print a resume? Maybe this time, they’ll rise above.

I suppose it’s bad form not to end this on a positive note, but here’s the thing: for many trans folks, there is no happy ending where they find a perfect job. It’s a complicated scenario, dealing with overarching economic structures, prejudice, work droughts and higher propensity for poverty and mental illness. And I do my best to be optimistic–to be funny, to be charming, and to put a human face on these issues. But I’m going to be true to my people too, so here’s the rub:

job hunting when you’re queer just ….. really sucks.

Eliot gives safe space, educational, and faith-based workshops in Ottawa. You can e-mail them about that at kcwaddingham@gmail.com . If you’ve learned stuff from their blog before, now is a better time than ever to consider leaving a tip. And chances are, wherever you live, you know an unemployed trans person–consider it a little hat-tip to Eliot if you think of that person in your life the next time you see a job opening.