Dear Honorable Members of The Joint Committee On The Judiciary,
Hello. My name is Lorelei McLaughlin and I am a transgender woman, Massachusetts born and raised. I was born in Northampton, grew up on Cape Cod and graduated from Barnstable High School. My Great-great-great-great-grandfather Noahdiah Leonard was a Minuteman at Lexington and served throughout The War For Independence in The Continental Army. Part of UMass Amherst was built on what used to be my family farm. And one of the biggest fish hatcheries in the Northeast, The Charles L. McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown was named after my Grandfather, who was Director of The Massachusetts Department Of Fish And Game in the early sixties. I mention all these things not to brag, but to impress upon you my and my family’s long connection to and active history in this great state.
Although I have lived in several diverse parts of the country over the past few years, I have always counted Massachusetts as home. Recently, due to circumstances surrounding my transition, I have returned to Massachusetts to reside. Since I started Hormone Replacement Therapy and began to live full-time as a woman, I have encountered a great deal of prejudice, discrimination and even outright hatred.
Thankfully for me, my family has been very supportive. This is not often the case for many transpeople however.
I am proud to posses a stellar resume. I have run companies, been trusted with management positions, consistently shown both loyalty and the ability to excel in whatever field I have worked in and have excellent references.
Despite this, I have been fairly consistently unemployed since I began my transition.
By training and profession, I am an actor and comedic performer. However, these are rarely lucrative professions, so I am often forced to seek additional employment in order to support myself.
Stereotypically, I have often worked in the service industry. I am a great waitperson for instance with exceptional experience in all levels of service, from diners to fine-dining.
I have also worked in more technically oriented positions in theaters and niteclubs. Most recently, I was the Showroom Manager for several years at The World Famous Hollywood Improv. A position I lost unexpectedly after I returned to it from a leave to take care of a dying relative at the beginning of my transition.
These are positions which often required me to interact with the public as an integral part of my job. This is something I am extraordinarily good at. I am a “people person” who is affable, friendly, easy going and good natured. I like people and make friends easily. I am a team player and a hard worker.
I am, in short, just the kind of person you would want to represent your business. Except, apparently, that I also happen to be a transgender woman.
I have been pounding the pavement for years. Dropping off resumes, asking for interviews. I am very good at this. My people are hard-workers with a strong employment ethic. I treat looking for a job as a job. I even have different versions of my resume for potential employers in different fields. Before I came out as a trans woman I never had any trouble at all securing employment in a timely manner.
None of this seems to help.
Although no one has yet been foolish enough to outright deny me the chance to fill out an application, it’s the same story over and over. I can fill out as many applications as I want, yet somehow every place I go has either just filled the job or is not actually hiring now “just looking” or I get a promise that my resume will be “put in the stack”. I almost never get the chance to have an interview. When I ask if there is anyone I can speak to, that person has always just left or won’t be in until later in the week.
Individually, these things would seem to be perfectly reasonable and not especially discriminatory. Added together though, there is such an incredible homogeneity to these responses. The remarkable similarity of the responses and lack of even the tiniest shreds of interest are far too overwhelming to be simply coincidental.
I present myself well and professionally. Never more than the most basic makeup, always conservatively and appropriately dressed. I smile and am friendly, courteous and respectful no matter how I think I am being treated.
I am easily readable as transgender however. Although I make an effort to be the best woman I can be, I am very tall and so invite closer scrutiny by my height alone. My resume also betrays this information. It is obvious that I have changed my name, I note it so that anyone who wishes to check my references will not be confused or think I am trying to hide anything. Additionally, I am open and out about my transgender status. I won’t bring it up in a job interview unless there is reason, but I am totally comfortable discussing it. I am proud to be who I am.
But no matter what I do. No matter how many places I go. I cannot seem to get an even break. I am consistently denied the opportunity to prove I can be just as good an employee as anyone else with the same qualifications. If not better and more motivated to prove it!
To get this chance though, I need your help!
Please help pass H.1728/S.1687, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes.”
I am not asking for any special rights, I only desire to be allowed the fair chance to secure and then to keep gainful employment as well as decent housing and equal access to community services and programs.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and hopefully, for your support of H.1728/S.1687.
For info on how to submit your own testimony to the Judiciary Committee before the preferred deadline of July 10th, follow the link below to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition website. They’re fine folks who are working hard to help you!!!