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In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we thought we'd showcase one the most interesting new LGBT nonprofits we've come across: TransTech Social Enterprises. In less than a year, this organization and its dynamic founder, Angelica Ross, have gotten lots of attention for their work to bring more transgender people into the workforce.
Transgender means that a person's internal gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth. It's the "T" in LGBT. According to the most frequently cited UCLA estimates, there are now around 700,000 transgender (sometimes also called "trans") people in the U.S.
The Obama Administration has made historic steps to give greater protections for the transgender community, like the Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination.
However, transgender people continue to face significant levels of discrimination and violence. In 2013, 72 percent of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women.
According to Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, published by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force:
Angelica Ross founded TransTech Social Enterprises less than a year ago in Chicago. TransTech is a creative design nonprofit firm that does job training for transgender people and also provides graphics, web development, app development, and multimedia production services to businesses. The organization has a special focus on providing a pipeline of employment to trans people of color.
The organization offers its design services through a team of professionals, educators, and apprentices. Anytime someone hires TransTech for a project, they are directly empowering TransTech's apprentices financially and through career-building experiences.
Angelica Ross is herself a trans person of color. She is a creative design professional and is the executive director and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises.
She described TransTech's mission in a recent piece in the Chicago Tribune: "Whether you’re skilled or not, being trans is a factor in whether you can get work because of discriminatory practices. Then there are people who need the work but don’t have the skills.
"If you’re able to telecommute, you can work through that time of gender transition and find balance as a freelancer. Most trans people are either violently removed or not welcome in many educational and workspaces." She added that TransTech "gives people a place where there’s no question that they belong and are valuable."
In the face of these extraordinary challenges, I like what Miss Ross said in her recent NTEN piece. "What does empowerment truly look like for the trans community? Many nonprofit organizations are providing direct services to trans people, with a focus on trans people of color (TPOC), but many programs only end up rendering the people to be even more powerless as they begin to rely on the support services for survival and are not given tools for sustainability.
"Adding further to systemic inequities, there are often no TPOC in positions that have decision-making authority. Empowerment in these types of programs means transferring decision-making authority and more responsibility to trans individuals who reflect the lived experiences of those you wish to serve."
Miss Ross has recently moved to Washington, D.C. and in addition to her work at TransTech, also works with the National LGBTQ Task Force as a faculty member for the national Trans Leadership Academy. Find out more about her work on her website, Miss Ross.
Image 1: Lisa Predko
Image 2: Jessica Sladek / TransTech
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.