A TRANSGENDER woman on the hunt for a job in Barrhead is urging employers to give her a chance.

Professional chef Michelle Murphy has been out of work since early May and says her search for employment has been filled with discrimination and disappointment, despite her extensive skills, experience and enthusiasm.

Michelle, who spent the first 45 years of her life as Matt Whiteman, was employed at Snooks Steakhouse until the Barrhead restaurant closed suddenly on May 8.

Since then, she has applied for around 150 jobs, covering a wide range of positions, but attended just three interviews – and has received no job offers and no feedback.

Michelle, who says she knew she wanted to be a woman from a young age, moved to Barrhead from Nottingham a few years ago.

Unable to comprehend what she was experiencing, her relatives had shunned her.

Michelle, who worked at the Dalmeny Park Hotel in Barrhead before taking up her post at Snooks, said she couldn’t fault either of her previous employers.

However, getting others to give her a chance has proved to be an impossible task.

She told the Barrhead News: “I am a professional chef but basically I’ll do anything. I’m very customer-focused. Bar work, waiting tables, hospitality, sales, call centres, you name it.

“Most applications I’ve done have a form you have to fill out that asks if you’re transgender and I always put that I am.

“I’ve had some companies phone me up and ask about it but, when I turn up, they’re expecting a full-on girl, which I’m not at the moment.

“And I know as soon as I walk in, from the look they give me, that I’m not going to get that job.

“I’m on Jobseekers Allowance but I’ll be lucky to pay my rent and I’m really feeling the pressure, which just makes me more nervous. Interviews are the worst.”

Michelle admits she has been left “hurt” by the constant rejection while searching for work.

She added: “I honestly do feel people are discriminating against me because I’m transgender but I don’t understand it. If I can do the job, I don’t understand what the issue is.

“It’s 2018, everyone in Barrhead knows I’m transgender, just give me a chance. That’s my message – if I can do the job and my CV is fine then, please, just give me a try.

“Just because I’m transgender doesn’t mean I can’t do the job.

“That’s what hurts me – I really feel that I’m being knocked back because of who I am.”

According to James Morton, manager of the Scottish Trans Alliance, Michelle’s story is not an unusual one.

He told the Barrhead News: “Sadly, there is still a lot of prejudice and discrimination against trans people, which results in extremely high levels of unemployment.

“A total of 37 per cent of trans people were unemployed for over 12 months in 2017, compared to a general population unemployment rate of four per cent.

“Trans people just want to be able to live ordinary lives with the same job opportunities as the rest of society."

James added that, although employment discrimination against trans people has been unlawful since 1999, it remains a hurdle to many.

He said: "It can be very difficult to prove why a person’s job application was rejected.”

James is urging employers to read the STA’s guidance on making workplaces trans-friendly at www.scottishtrans.org/changing_for_the_better

If you are an employer who would be interested in interviewing Michelle for a position, contact John McNee in our newsroom on 0141 435 8828. Alternatively, send an email to john.mcnee@newsquest.co.uk.