Friday, September 23, 2011

For Transpeople, Having A J-O-B Is Fundamental To Human Rights

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica of TransGriot
'We talk a lot about human rights, but I don't know of any human right that is more important than having a job' 
William Norris said that in an April 1978 TIME magazine interview and that is still as true today as when he spoke these words back during the disco era.  Having a job is fundamental to survival in society and especially in the United States because everything flows from it.  The money you earn from that job helps pay for food, shelter, clothing, and the other necessities of life.

That point is backed up by the right to work being mentioned in Article 23 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 23.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
I guess the GL community agrees with the UN Declaration.  When they sought to secure civil rights coverage for themselves anti-discrimination measures for employment were the first thing tackled (and you gleefully cut transpeople out of in many cases) before you started in 2003 on this all marriage all the time push. 

I
t's
why I repeatedly make the point when I talk about in rainbow community discourse what we should be focusing on strategy wise, I'll continue to assert that having a J-O-B and laws in place to protect it is far more important in the TBLG activism scheme of things than the ability to get married.  
As I have said more than a few times to marriage obsessed GL peeps, what good will it do for you to get married if your oppressors can still deny you a job?   
Besides you can't get married unless you have the J-O-B to pay for the wedding license, the wedding ring, the wedding, the wedding reception and the hall to have it in.   
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) wrote in a 1975 essay  'The Politics of Unemployment', 'To deprive a person of work is to negate a portion of his/her humanity."   Nowhere is that point driven home more clearly than for TBLG persons of color.whose humanity is constantly under attack.

There's also nothing more dehumanizing, stress inducing and deflating to your self esteem as when you don't have a job.  The reverse is true when you have one.   The fact that we transpeople have to pay for the privilege of being our kind of rainbow person exacerbates that.

It costs money for hormones, the medical visits, electrolysis/laser, surgery, and identity paperwork changes.   That's before we even begin to touch on paying for food, shelter and clothing out of whatever income you earn and don't have budgeted for transition purposes.  In the United States, we also have to dea
l with the reality that a job is the entry way to accessing a health care system that refuses to cover many of the costs associated with trans health care.. 
In an economy with currently 9.1% unemployment, 14% in the Latino community, Black people almost double that national rate at 16.7% and Black transpeople face almost triple that national rate at 26%, you can understand why JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and passing an inclusive ENDA has a much higher priority, especially in the POC rainbow community than passing same gender marriage. 
We know all too well that having a J-O-B is not only fundamental to our human rights, but sadly also being recognized as fellow human beings.