Dismantling Workplace Barriers for Transgender & Non-Binary People

This Saturday, Rhodes Perry Consulting teams up with the Portland Area Business Association (aka the City’s LGBTQ Chamber) and NedSpace to host a community listening session focused on dismantling workplace barriers organized by and for transgender and non-binary Portland residents. PABA board leadership in particular is looking to gather community-informed recommendations as to how to dismantle these barriers with the goal of educating local businesses, government officials, nonprofit organizations, and funders.

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Why is this listening session needed?

Approximately 19,750 transgender and non-binary people live in the state of Oregon with the lion’s share living in Portland, and this number continues to rise given Oregon’s progressive human and civil rights laws. Yet, even with these laws, policy change has not shifted the harsh realities many transgender & non-binary Oregonians endure.

A snapshot of transgender & non-binary Oregonians’ employment and entrepreneurship experiences reveal:

·      Thirty percent (30%) live in poverty, more than double the national average of 12%

·      Twelve percent (12%) are unemployed, more than double the national average of 5%

·      Four (4) times more likely than the general population to earn less than $10,000 a year

·      Eighty-three percent (83%) experience some form of mistreatment on the job.

Tragically, these Oregonian’s experiences are not unique. The disproportionately higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and mistreatment on the job are similar for the 1.4 million transgender & non-binary people living across the United States. Fortunately, a few larger cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle have created culturally specific programs to dismantle the cycle of poverty transgender & non-binary people endure due to lack of job opportunities.

The Portland Metropolitan Area is the seventh largest city when it comes to transgender & non-binary people calling this area home.  As such, progressive leaders in this City have a responsibility and an incredible opportunity to build upon the leadership of other major municipalities sharing economic empowerment opportunities with some of the most vulnerable.

How will the organizers use the information collected?

As more-and-more organizations and funders begin to ask the question of “how can we help,” we first wanted to hear directly from transgender & non-binary people about what they expect of organizations and leaders who are in positions of power. The information gleaned from the listening session will inform some of the preliminary organizing efforts PABA, and several business associations are interested in developing to expand upon employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for transgender and non-binary people.

RPC, PABA, and other business associations are at the beginning stages of this work, and first wanted to connect with transgender and non-binary communities to inform future efforts. All information will be synthesized in a report that organizers plan to share with national and regional funders, local businesses, government officials, and nonprofit organizations to educate them about the specific challenges experienced by these communities. All registered participants will receive a copy of this report after the event.

How can Portland Residents Participate?

There’s still a few free tickets available to participate in this community listening session. Local transgender and non-binary folks along with allies can secure seats here. There’s also a Facebook invitation here, along with community guidance to ensure that the listening session creates a supportive learning environment for all participants.

Rhodes Perry

Rhodes Perry is a nationally recognized expert on LGBTQ and social justice public policy matters, with two decades of leadership experience innovating strategy management, policy and program solutions for corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. At his core, Rhodes is an entrepreneur, where he most recently established Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC, a national diversity and inclusion consulting firm that uses an intersectional approach to collaborate with leaders on creating solutions in the practice areas of strategy management, issue advocacy, and stakeholder engagement. Previously, Rhodes founded the Office of LGBTQ Policy & Practice at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, and prior to this assignment he served as the founding Director of Policy at PFLAG National where he led the policy strategy and advocacy efforts for the organization’s 350 chapters. He cut his teeth serving as a Program Examiner at the White House Office of Management & Budget, where he improved upon federal benefit programs designed to provide assistance to low-income communities. Rhodes earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and obtained a Master of Public Administration from New York University.