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trans job connect facebook
Photo by paje victoria on Unsplash
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Technology brings us together in the most innovative and powerful ways. We can see the faces of loved ones from miles away. Online classes make learning more accessible than ever. Entire communities sharing common interests and passions are built virtually. Though it can distract us, and disconnect us, technology also has the potential to remind us that we are not alone.

That was the case for transgender activists Jim and Kat Blake.

using facebook to create groupsJust two people in love and trying to live their best lifeAll images by Charles Ommanney, used with permission

Before they created the Trans Job Connect Facebook group, to say life was lonely would be an understatement. Both grew up in Mississippi, and after coming out were met with anything but a welcome embrace. Instead, their families ostracized them, friends stopped returning their calls, and fellow employees harassed them. Kat was even assaulted at work – a much larger co-worker knocked her on the back with a shovel and threatened to murder her if he ever saw her again. It was clear that this was no longer their home.

Finding belonging wouldn’t be easy. Their adventure began when they packed up their belongings (along with their two kiddos) and hit the road in a camper van. Little did they know that it would evolve into a 10,000 mile, three year journey. Along the way, they soon realized that Mississippi – or the South for that matter – wasn’t the only place where transgender people were refused resources. Even institutions designed to offer humanitarian support like churches, charity organizations, and homeless prevention programs denied the Blake family help in their time of need.

Securing a new job proved to be a near insurmountable obstacle. Jim would commonly receive the generic response of, “We’ve decided not to move forward” or “ We don’t feel you’re the best fit” following an interview. That is, if he heard anything at all. Many times, it would just be crickets. But the message was still clear: he wasn’t wanted.

Knowing they weren’t the only ones experiencing these kinds of hardships, Jim and Kat were determined to not just create a supportive, affirming community for themselves, but for as many transgender folks as possible.

Kat began working with Trans Lifeline, a peer support group call center, talking to multiple people a day, while Jim researched job discrimination, finding some pretty overwhelming statistics. Helping others relieved some of the isolation, but not all. And it didn’t spread any education for finding work.

Then Jim had an idea that would set them on a brand new path. “What if we made a Facebook Group?”

Facebook’s platform allows for super specific, ultra niche interest groups. You’ve seen them: “Millennial Women Who Love Ducks,” or “Marathon Runners Who Only Listen to EDM.” Facebook Groups make it easy to form friendships based on common interests from anywhere in the world. It can also make it easy for specific (and often underepresented) demographics like transgender, queer, and non-binary people to access a support group made just for them.

And thus Trans Job Connect was virtually born.

trans job connect

The first thing people receive at TJCnis a warm welcome

Trans Job Connect, as the name implies, helps transgender people gain access to all the tools they might need to find secure employment. And for many, the major challenge is the interview. Namely, in interview clothes. As Jim notes, 34% of transgender people have a yearly income of less than $10K, and aren’t able to afford a wardrobe that expresses their new gender.

Couple this with gender dysphoria (the sense of unease a person may feels when there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender), and it’s a recipe for low confidence. As anyone who has bombed an interview due to not feeling your best knows, being comfortable in our own skin is crucial. Trans Job Connect partners with an organization to provide binders and transition specific clothing, so that candidates can present themselves authentically and self-assured.

inclusivity for trans

One (of many) sweet messages sent to TJC members

In addition, the group holds resume workshops, matches candidates to trans-inclusive businesses, and hosts in-person and virtual job fairs. Though Jim noted that the first bit of the virtual fair was a tad wonky (as in, the awkwardness of first time dealings with technical issues), the group still succeeded. 100 people were interviewed. 10 moved onto a second round. 13 were hired on the spot.

Using Facebook Group Insights, an analytic tool that tracks member engagement and post performance, Trans Job Connect has been able to curate content that its members are interested in the most, making it an invaluable resource. Delivering potentially life-changing knowledge to those who often receive very little in “the real world”, it’s no wonder that TJC now boasts a total of over 1600 members. And since it’s humble beginnings in 2017, the group has assisted 348 trans/queer individuals with their job search.

Jim and Kat have nothing but pride for their virtual community, and they have no plans to stop growing it. They currently use the group to recruit volunteers, set appointments, converse with clients, and announce events. For them, Facebook remains a “great hub for organization, recruitment, fellowship, and support.”

jobs for trans people

This is what inclusivity looks like


When the Blakes set out on their road trip back in 2015, it might have been for survival. But now, they are fearless – and on a mission to help others reclaim a sense of belonging. They might have not expected Facebook to play such a large part in that endeavor, but it’s helped make their vision a reality. When we use technology to connect us to our humanity, great things happen.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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