LGBTQ leaders say companies need to do more for trans employees on Trans Day of Visibility

March 31, 2023, 1:45 PM UTC
Billie Simmons, cofounder of Daylight
Courtesy of Daylight

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! ABC News is getting restructured, women open half of the new businesses in the U.S., and people working to protect the trans community want companies to do more. Happy Friday!

Today is Trans Day of Visibility. Billie Simmons isn’t doing anything special for Trans Day of Visibility. She and her coworkers affirm and uplift trans people all year.

Simmons is the cofounder and COO of Daylight, a fintech and family planning company created by and for the LGBTQ community. Some of the company’s offerings especially help trans and nonbinary people, like the ability for customers to put their chosen name on their credit or debit card. Major banks have added similar offerings in recent years after a study showed that a third of people presenting forms of ID with names incongruent with their gender identity experienced harassment, refusal of service, or violence. 

“Every day is Trans Day of Visibility at Daylight. We have a number of trans and nonbinary people on the team, myself, obviously, included,” Simmons says. “And so for us, those are kind of the table stakes.” 

Trans Day of Visibility is a day meant to celebrate trans people and raise awareness about the discrimination they face. Amid rising anti-trans sentiment, violence, and a wave of legislation that would curb the rights of trans people, this year’s date is especially important, and activists are calling on allies and corporations to step up. 

Imara Jones, journalist, CEO of TransLash Media, and host of the podcast The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, says that the current anti-trans push is part of a decade-long effort to spread misinformation about trans people. She hopes seeing and hearing from trans people on TDOV will help combat that disinformation.  

Imara Jones
Richie Shazam

“It’s a day to just say that we are real. And we’re real people. And we deserve what all real people deserve, which is respect and a lack of persecution,” she says. 

She also calls on companies to recognize their own power and influence, not only in politics but in their own internal policies. Part of TDOV should be more than celebrating individuals, she says. Corporations should be pushing themselves to reflect the needs and values of the trans community by hiring, promoting, and retaining trans people. She also calls on companies to put trans people in advertisements, appoint them to board positions, and invite them to speak at events. 

Someone committed to empowering trans people at work is E.C. Pizarro. He is the executive director at TransTech Social, an incubator for LGBTQ+ talent with over 3,000 members around the world, 80% of whom identify as trans, nonbinary, and/or gender nonconforming.

As a man of trans experience who says he remained stealth and low-disclosure while working in corporate America, he says it is important for allies to understand that they might not know how close they are to a trans person. Therefore, everyone needs to speak up. 

“Allies need to really step up at this time because being visible as a trans person at this time is a privilege,” he says, acknowledging the safety risks of being an out trans person. “There are people that do not want to share…within their reason, right? I used to be that individual.” 

He encourages companies to connect with organizations that are doing the work for trans people to understand how they can create better workplaces for trans employees. TransTech Social and other organizations can audit company policies, like dress code, health care coverage, and harassment accountability protocols, to identify holes in the policies that might negatively impact the trans and gender-nonconforming community. 

For Simmons, the forces seeking to tamper with trans rights motivate her to continue to grow her startup.

“These people want to eradicate us from existence. They want us to feel defeated, and to not do our jobs,” she says. “The way I can contribute is to run an amazing business that thrives, hires queer people, and helps queer people live their best lives.”

Kinsey Crowley (she/her)

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"I had this belief that if I was really good at my craft, my job, everything else would come from that."

—Ariel co-CEO Mellody Hobson on succeeding in a man-dominated field. 

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