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Transgender workers focus of chamber lunch Tuesday  

Many transgendered people, in particular those who are transitioning to women, may have difficulty finding work and are part of a group facing significant discrimination, according to representatives from the LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Stonewall Center.

Using an $8,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the coalition is beginning a program known as the Diversity Heroes Project that aims to assist area transgendered women in getting employment, educating employers about the experiences of the transgender population and changing society’s perception of those who are transgendered.

To help promote this program, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will use its next brown bag luncheon for a presentation on the topic of transgendered people in the workplace. The luncheon takes place at the Jones Library Tuesday at noon.

Suzanne Seymour, executive director of the LGBT Coalition, said the event will give business owners and others in the Amherst business community a chance to hear about the training that will be included in the Diversity Heroes Project.

“This is about finding opportunities for trans women to learn skills, to interview and to bring together employers and employees,” she said.

Seymour said many transgendered women are facing problems such as homelessness and drug use because of discrimination.

The hope is to counter this with awareness trainings for businesses, job skills workshops for transgendered women and a job fair.

The event is sponsored by the Loose Goose Cafe and is free and open to the public.

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