I was hoping we'd wrap up negotiations with one of our unions today. We've been negotiating for months, and I was hoping it would reach an end. Alas, that wasn't to be. Not the end of the world. These things can take a long time until the sides find the right little patch of middle ground.
While that was a disappointment, it freed me up to join Marc for a program at the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth Center. Initially, I thought today's union negotiations would go into the night, as they often do when negotiations appear to be reaching their final sessions. But when they didn't, that freed me up to go to LIGALY's PEP (Pride Empowerment Project) Career Forum.
Marc and I, along with several other professionals from a variety of organizations, were able to share tips with teenagers in the PEP program on how to search for a job, prepare for an interview, dress for an interview, etc. We fielded a variety of questions, and I think it was a fruitful night for the attendees.
The best part came at the end. A transgender kid we knew from prior LIGALY events asked about a problem few people have to face. She looks more like the he she'll eventually be, and she likes to go by a male name but legally still must use her legal, female name on applications. She wanted to know how to deal with telling people she really goes by a male name. We were able to share what I think was sound advice, but that's not the really good part.
The good part came afterwards. She mentioned that it's a catch-22, because this situation makes it harder to find work (already tough for a 19-year-old in this economy), but she needs to find work to afford to pay for the court filings, etc., necessary to make a legal name change. With court filings, legal notices she'll have to put in those tiny listings in local papers, etc., we're talking probably a few hundred dollars. Maybe $500 at most. So Marc and I agreed with a guy from a staffing agency who was on the panel for the event that we'd all split the cost so she could get the name change done and move forward with her (soon to be his) life. Also, one of the LIGALY people will reach out to a law firm that has been a supporter of the organization and get them to do the court filings (we know them... they'll do it). There's even a shot at the staffing agency finding her work at the same time, so that was a bonus.
This sweet young person was pretty overwhelmed (if you're wondering, her family has refused to help her), and she had to give us all hugs. We told her that when she's our age this amount of money won't be so hard to come by and then she'll be able to help others like we are, and she'll know what a joy it is to be able to help. We're so happy to have been able to offer help that her own family has denied her. And tonight the world is just a tiny bit better place. :)