I'm sure this isn't news to Bustle readers, but we all know the battle for trans rights is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time, right? Trans people often face significant discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Activists have made a huge difference in mainstream awareness of this issue, but discrimination still persists — perhaps no more harmfully than in the workforce. But Angelica Ross, herself a trans woman, is doing something amazing to fight hiring discrimination: She created and leads the organization TransTech, which helps trans people get jobs in the tech industry though education, mentoring, and relationships with companies. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 26 percent of trans people have lost a job due to transphobia and 50 percent of trans people endured harassment at their workplace — but TransTech is aiming to change that
Ross founded the organization after experiencing personal frustration with other groups that supposedly help trans people find jobs. According to TechCrunch:
TransTech Founder and CEO Angelica Ross... knows first-hand how difficult it can be to get a job as a transgender person. When Ross began her transition to living as a woman, her employer fired her, her family alienated her and she was introduced to sex work and the adult industry. Ross eventually decided to teach herself how to build websites, and later worked with nonprofit organizations that were looking to serve transgender communities around employment. She soon realized that those types of services could be a lot more effective.
“I discovered most programs to be inadequate, as well as re-traumatizing and re-triggering for our population, as many of the programs just undervalue, underestimate and pigeonhole our community into very low expectation positions — you know, food service and manual labor without any sort of development for us to reach for anything else beyond that,” Ross told TechCrunch.
TransTech is different, though. It operates as a design agency that also trains and develops trans and gender-nonconforming apprentices in skills like graphic design, web and app development, administrative skills, social media management, and media production. It also offers classes in more basic skills like personal finance, typing and word-processing, and resume and interview training. “Trans people, especially trans people of color, have not routinely had a lot of access to technology,” Ross said to TechCrunch. “When you drop out of school because of harassment or get kicked out of your home, [you miss out on] basic skills with data entry, Microsoft Office, Google Docs — things like that that will keep them from having office jobs and being in certain environments and being able to compete.”
I couldn't be more admiring of Ross. The pilot program for TransTech started just last year — and only a few months into that, she was invited to the freakin' White House's LGBTQ Innovation Tech Summit! The next step? She's working on creating a pipeline from TransTech to actual employmentat the White House. Clearly, she's filling a real need. The only thing that makes me sad is that as of yet, TransTech only has offices in Chicago and D.C.—and even though the company offers a lot of their classes and services via web, that still means other areas are underserved by this type of organization. It's a pretty good reason to reach out to TransTech and donate.