When I think about how my transness has affected my life I recognize my blessings. My family was readily accepting and supportive, I only lost a partner and a couple of friends when I came out. My parents were able to support me through college and I graduated cum laude and without debt.
However, despite my degree, I found I was barred from any “respectable” jobs. Instead, I was relegated to jobs that required as many “warm bodies” as they could find. As soon as the hiring process was competitive to any degree I was cast aside for numerous jobs I was overqualified for.
In this essay when I refer to “getting a job in the closet” I mean that I as an AMAB nonbinary person presented and pretended to be a man for the interview and hiring process.
As I was finishing up my college I had gotten a job in the closet in private Emergency Medical Services (EMS) working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). I had received my EMT certificate in the closet a year prior. This job was constantly hiring anyone that fit the minimal certificate and driving requirements (and sometimes not even driving). I enjoyed the work of taking care of routine transports, semi-emergent transports, and the occasional emergency.
I cannot say that the work was good, though. The ambulances were dirty and constantly breaking, leaving us without adequate heat in the winter and without any AC in the summer. A time or two the ambulances broke with the patient on board, luckily in non-emergency situations.
Most clear was how it was back-breaking work, without the aid of a machine two people were expected to lift and move upwards of 300 pounds of a person in addition to the stretcher.
It is no surprise why no one stayed in the private EMS field and everyone longed to get onto public EMS and respond to 911 calls. In private EMS we were pushed to only utilize the two employees on an ambulance. In public EMS it is much more common to have numerous employees on even the simplest runs.
Once I got my cum laude bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor I immediately applied to numerous entry-level chemistry positions. I applied to research positions, quality assurance, testing positions for lab companies, and even temp agencies.
However, I applied as a trans woman and wore a dress to the interview, did my makeup, and spoke in a feminine register. I attempted to pass and failed. I had numerous interviews, my resume was great, but they never went any further and often (for lack of a better word) ghosted me.
After some time I got fed up with the transphobia in my workplace and quit to work with another private EMS agency. I again applied in the closet, as I needed the money. I got hired instantly, I soon after came out at this agency and was instantly isolated.
My relation to my employer was simply a bare paycheck for work, a thin facade of niceties with transphobia poking out regularly. Even my coworkers interacted with me in a shallow way, nothing more than another person doing the job. No solidarity.
I again applied repeatedly to any job that was less backbreaking and with a more “progressive” atmosphere. I was upfront about how I was trans in order to weed out transphobic jobs. In retrospect, the employers had a strong incentive to not hire a trans person that might “disrupt the work environment”.
This fundamental cycle repeated itself, I could land jobs in the closet and the jobs that would hire me when I was out were the jobs that needed as many “warm bodies” as they could. But I was never able to hide my queerness enough nor land a job while being out that was competitive, regardless of how qualified or overqualified, I was.
As a trans person, I was shoved down into the lower rungs of my class, denied entry into less exploitative work by transphobia. The predominant way that I experienced transphobia was through class. Not through violence, though I have experienced that as well. It was not through slurs or microaggressions, but through not being able to be financially stable, not having access to suitable healthcare. It was by being exploited at a rate above and beyond how I would’ve been exploited otherwise.
The answer to this is not diverse oppressors, trans capitalists that might be willing to hire someone like themselves. The solution is tied intimately to our material circumstances. Healthcare, housing, and access to transition care are all things that are desperately needed by the proletariat.
In capitalism's inability to fulfill these needs, we gain the ability to organize for a socialist revolution. While doing so, our action of fighting the class war must be accompanied with discussions of how an injury to a trans comrade is an injury to every cis comrade.
Further, we must not settle for allyship that allows trans people to deny cis comrades the chance to fully understand and work through their capitalist brainwashing. Rather we must engage in comradeship that is based on communal and reciprocal struggle. Communal in how we struggle as a group. Reciprocal in how we struggle for you and you struggle for us because we recognize how we are each separated and ground down by the capitalists.