‘Is it me, or a big­ger is­sue?’

Trans wo­man ques­tions if prej­u­dice in­volved in her not find­ing work


When Rose Boudreau’s dad warned her she might need to dress as a man to get a job in Hal­i­fax, she brushed it aside.

But af­ter send­ing out more than 100 re­sumes since De­cem­ber, and about 10 in-per­son in­ter­views with no job of­fers, Boudreau said she’s start­ing to ask “is it me, or a big­ger is­sue?”

Boudreau, 22, grew up in Yar­mouth and came out as a gay male in her teens, but it wasn’t un­til this past Au­gust she said she fi­nally rec­og­nized she was trans­gen­der.

“While press­ing re­set on your life, you then have to go out at find work and hope you’ve made enough good con­nec­tions that will stick with you,” Boudreau said in an in­ter­view.

She’s been liv­ing in Hal­i­fax for the past five years go­ing to univer­sity and NSCC be­fore putting school on hold this year, and Boudreau said when she pre­sented as a man she never went more than three months be­fore find­ing part-time work serv­ing or at call cen­tres.

Boudreau said she knew she’d run into more walls as a trans wo­man, but thought it wouldn’t be “that” hard be­cause Hal­i­fax seems like a lib­eral city.

“I have a lot to of­fer a po­ten­tial em­ployer, but it’s just get­ting past peo­ple’s prej­u­dice of a man in a dress which is so frus­trat­ing,” she said.

With no em­ploy­ment and loans ex­hausted, Boudreau said she’s had to turn to her pho­tog­ra­phy hobby as a side busi­ness, while med­i­cal bills from her tran­si­tion keep adding up.

But what Boudreau wants those busi­ness and restau­rant own­ers to re­al­ize — who said how much they ad­mired her and never called back — is hav­ing a trans em­ployee can only help their bot­tom line due to money com­ing in from those happy to sup­port an in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment.

She’s been try­ing to con­nect to em­ploy­ers with a bit of hu­mour, Boudreau added, point­ing out to bar own­ers and oth­ers that she’s a “niche mar­ket” and just be­cause some cus­tomers might not “get” her look or ap­peal, doesn’t mean oth­ers won’t.

“You don’t have to like steak to serve it in your restau­rant,” she laughed.

When Boudreau said she came out to her fam­ily as trans, her fa­ther pulled her aside to say she might not want to hear it, but Boudreau could have to “dress as a man to get a job.” It wasn’t her gen­er­a­tion, or him that had any is­sues, Boudreau re­called him say­ing, but it could be for his gen­er­a­tion — and they’re do­ing the hir­ing.

How­ever, Boudreau said she could never do that — black and In­dige­nous peo­ple don’t get to sim­ply “take off their skin when no­body hires them,” and she shouldn’t have to dress as a man to land work.

“It’s the cow­ard’s way out. I’m go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to go down with a fight,” she said.

“While press­ing re­set on your life, you then have to go out at find work and hope you’ve made enough good con­nec­tions that will stick with you.” Rose Boudreau


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