Angelica Ross - Creating Safe Spaces with TransTech Social Enterprises

April 6, 2016 - Angelica Ross 04/06/2016 Views: 2,604

TransTech Social Enterprises founder Angelica Ross explains how her organization creates a safe space for LGBT workers and educates the cis community on trans issues. (5:32)

Watch Full Episode

My guest tonight is an actor

and the founder ofTransTech Social Enterprises.

Please welcome Angelica Ross.

(applause and cheering)

Thank you so muchfor being here.

Thank you for having me, Trevor.

Um, let's get straight into it.

You are the CEO of TransTech

which is basicallya creative technology company,

uh, you know,getting trans people,

or anyonefrom the LGBT community

to come in and learn abouttechnology, you know? Um...

Well, yeah, I mean,there's a lot of space

where we're just kind offorced out of school.

We're forced out of the work.

No place really is safe,

and especially in certainstates, for trans people.

So first we wantedto create a safe space

that people could come inand access the Internet

and computers and trainings

and build their skillsfor better employment.

-So this might be a reallypersonal question, but... -Sure.

At what age did you realize

that you were a tech person?


Honestly, very, very young.

I was the one that was hookingup the VCR and all the TV's...

You know, VCR--that's the thing with the tape.

-I know VCR. I'm old school.-Yeah.

-I'm old school.-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So I've always been tech. Yeah.

What's really fascinatingabout your organization

is not just the factthat you're teaching

and-and educatingtransgender people

and getting theminto the work force,

but you're transformingthe work force.

Because a lot of the timeit's corporations

who don't know how to dealwith trans people,

and you''re basically teaching them

that trans employees are thesame as every other employee--

they just spend their day onFacebook looking at cat videos.

-Well... actually,trans employees -(laughter)

are actually even better.

-(Noah laughs)-You know, but seriously,

because they workthat much harder sometimes,

'cause we know the playing fieldin front of us.

And so sometimeswe're even working

two, three, four times as hard

just so someonewill give us an opportunity.

Just so someonegives you the respect

-Exactly.-that they don't think...

That's... it's sucha tough place to come from.

Your story is-isreally interesting as well,

because you'rea military veteran, as well.

Uh, I don't knowif it's technically or not,

because my dischargewas uncharacterized.

So back in '98 or so, when...

around the "Don't ask,don't tell" sort of thing,

they hung me out of a windowand asked me to tell,

and, uh, you know,so I was discharged,

but I was dischargedwith an "uncharacterized"--

so it's basically likeyou were never here.

No benefits.But I definitely walked away

with sort of a sour tastein my mouth from that.

Let's talk about, um...Caitlyn Jenner.

So... I guessin many communities

considered a gift and a curseto the trans community.

On one hand, Caitlyn Jennerhas brought the conversation,

you know... uh,really shone a spotlight

on what's going onin the trans community.

On the other hand, people go:

"That's notan accurate representation

"of what it means to be trans.

"We don't all have, uh,glamour and makeup artists.

-You know, we don't havethat money." -Well, I mean...

Caitlyn is, like, 60-something,but in reality,

she's a baby trans--and that's all it is,

-is that we need time... -Isthat a thing? Like baby trans?

-Yeah, baby trans.Yeah, baby trans. -Okay.

'Cause we're all learning here.We don't know.

-Yes. No... -You'regonna walk away from the show

and be like, "Hey, baby trans,"and someone's like,

"What'd you say?""I heard it on The Daily Show."

-Yes. No, baby trans is a thing.-Yes.

It's, like,when you first transition,

you kind of reachfor the longest hair

-and the shortest skirt. Youknow, um... -That's so funny.


But then you learn.

Let's-let's chat about thecommunity on the other side.

This is... this is somethingI think a lot of people

are afraid to talk about,

because it is hardto talk about.

I know this personally.You want to get involved.

You are not just not opposed to the transgender community,

but you actually wantto support it.

And a lot of the timeit feels like

the conversation is hindered

by the fearof saying the wrong thing.

Is it "he" or "she"?

Is it "transgendered"or "transgender"?

Is it...

How... how do you begineducating people

and saying, hey,I understand that as a society

we're also transitioning.

How do we beginthat conversation?

-Um, Google.-(laughter)

It's fascinating.

You can find any kindof information on Google.

-Um, but honestly...-But as a person, though,

as a person,how does that make you feel?

So if somebody says to you...what are the do's and don'ts?

Just the simple things,where you go, hey, this...

this does... this isnot the right thing to do.

Just on a personal level.

It is really trial and error.

I think it's whenyou learn and realize

-you're talkingto another person, -Yes.

and you realize maybe this isnot the right question to ask.

If you are actuallyasking yourself, "Uh, well,

this may be offensive,"then you're already starting out

on the wrong page.

So, you know, really, it's...

it's a thing wherewe in the trans community,

we understand intention nowmore than we understand

the words and other things,and there's a lot of energy

that goes behindcertain people's words,

and I can feel that hatred,I can feel that energy.

But when someone'sjust fumbling across something

and they don't know whatthe right thing to do is,

as long as I seethat there's an energy for you

to sort of want to learn, thenI think things are okay there.

-The intention more importantthan the words. -Yeah.

Abso... Intention.And impact.

Because a lot of peoplethink they're well intentioned,

but the impactis quite different

than what their intentions were.

So you can't just say,"Well, I didn't mean to,"

or, "That wasn't my intent,"but we also need to look

at the impactof what you said or did.

I think we all will be.

And, uh,great job on your impact

and what your organizationis doing.

Uh, Angelica Ross, everyone.We'll be right back.

All Shows