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Toronto trans job fair aims to fight transphobia in employment

Employers including Apple, TD Canada Trust and the Canadian Forces were present

Biko Beauttah (pictured) organized the job fair, which aims to connect trans people with jobs. Credit: Nick Lachance/Xtra

Noah Singh has the skills and the experience.

He’s owned and operated a restaurant, which he sold. He went to school for social work. But despite that, he’s had a hard time getting even a basic retail job.

“I think they saw my name on my resumé, they automatically assumed I was a man,” he says. “But when they heard my voice, my voice is a little bit higher pitched.”

As a trans man, Singh says that he’ll often walk into a job interview and people will look him up and down, as if assessing his competency based off of how he looks.

“It’s so disheartening,” he says. “You go in there to show them your skills and what you’re good at and what you’re qualified for, but then they look at you.”

Singh says that employers can see that he’s transitioning and they just don’t want to have to deal with that.

That’s why Singh was so excited to come to a trans job fair hosted by Trans Workforce, a new organization aimed at connecting trans people with jobs.

“Thank god I can come somewhere where they’re not going to judge me,” he says. “I can just literally talk business with somebody and that’s it.”

Noah Singh attends Trans Workforce’s job fair at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto on Nov 20, 2017. Credit: Nick Lachance/Xtra

Held on Nov 20, 2017, the same day as Trans Day of Remembrance, at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Trans Workforce’s job fair brought out a number of employers, including Apple, Indigo, TD Canada Trust, the Canadian Forces and Parks Canada.

The initiative is the brainchild of Biko Beauttah, a trans woman who’s had trouble finding work herself.

“Last summer, I did 30 resumés, I never got a call back,” she says. “But what I took away from that was I need to throw myself a job fair.”

Beauttah is hoping that the job fair will become an annual event and can expand to cities outside of Toronto.

Trans people in Ontario face intense job discrimination. Despite the fact that 71 percent of trans people have some level of higher education, around half make less than $15,000 a year.

Beauttah says that younger generations of trans people are craving opportunities for advancement.

“The older generation, I’ve found, that their main focus was to try to stay alive at all costs,” she says. “Now people are trying to be upwardly mobile, advance themselves and to get work.”

For Singh, it was a relief to be in a room where being trans wasn’t the most important thing about him.

“They don’t even look at you funny, they don’t ask you anything,” he says. “I had a really great experience, to be honest.”