How has this only just now become a thing? In California, a company has launched a large-scale outreach program dedicated to employing trans people, who have a terribly hard time getting work due to blatant and terrible discrimination coupled with the high rates of mental illness that tend to happen when your entire society hates you. It was started by a trans women, Michaela Mendelsohn, who managed to acquire a couple restaurants before she transitioned, and then she was like, hey, maybe I'll start trying to hire trans people. Then she talked about the idea to the California Restaurant Association, and they decided to launch a state-wide initiative.
California Restaurants Launch Nation's First Transgender Jobs Program
It's called the California Transgender Workplace Project. The organization goes to food service expos and hosts seminars called Trans 101 to educate employers on what transgender means and the issues that trans people face. They also alleviate concerns about transphobic customers. Mendelsohn herself has said that there has been overwhelming support in California for her trans employees from customers, but she also promotes actively supporting employees by putting a much-needed stipulation on the "the customer is always right" mantra.
That concern initially worried Mendelsohn, too. But she was surprised — in the years she's had restaurants staffed with trans people, customers have been overwhelmingly supportive.
And when they aren't, she says bosses should be prepared to stand up for their employees.
"You know, you always hear the thing, 'The customer's always right'," she sayss. "In my restaurants, the customer's always right unless they attack you personally."
Mendelsohn owns six El Pollo Loco franchises in Southern California, so if you're in the area, you can support them by buying some tasty chicken. Or if you're trans and need a job, drop off a resume. If I lived in Southern California, I'd be eating there all the time. For now, I think Washington State needs a push to get a trans employment program going. I'm gonna look up how to contact the local restaurant association and maybe we can get a petition or letter writing campaign going.
Because seriously, this should already exist everywhere.