‘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