The GSBA Blog


GSBA Joins Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition to Tackle Disparities

by Eli Coffin
| Dec 17, 2018

GSBA is always impressed by, and proud of our members who are active and ready to take the next step in gender inclusion and inclusivity. We recognize the importance of investing in diverse future leaders and are ready to work collaboratively to exchange ideas and increase visibility for the most marginalized of our community. We not only serve as a resource to help businesses become more inclusive, but also as a starting point for trans entrepreneurs that are looking to start their business in a supported way.

teecAbout the Coalition

Earlier this year GSBA joined forces with other local LGBTQ organizations to form the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition (TEEC). TEEC is made up of a group of community-based organizations which are committed to addressing economic inequities faced by transgender and gender diverse, and/or non-binary youth, adults, and families. Coalition members include GSBA, UTOPIA Seattle, Ingersoll Gender Center, Seattle Counseling Services, Gay CityPOCAAN, Gender Diversity Seattle, and TRANSform Washington and are able to tackle these intersectional issues thanks to a two-year, $550,000 Communities of Opportunity grant awarded by King County. This is the first grant of its kind in the region and is a historic investment to our transgender and gender diverse community members. Our collective goal is to identify barriers and gaps in economic resources so we can develop policy solutions, new resources, and improve access to move these communities out of poverty.

We know working in a coalition led by the LGBTQ community - specifically transgender-led and LGBTQ People of Color-led organizations with an intersectional focus - that the coalition is perfectly suited to find solutions to address long standing and systemic iniquities. The coalition's success will be derived from centering in on the leadership, expertise, and lived experiences of low-income transgender and gender diverse, LGBTQ POC individuals with a combination of experiences including: those with disabilities, in sex work/street economy, institutionalized, experienced reparative therapy, and/or those who have been incarcerated.

As a community, GSBA and the other coalition partners have known each other for a long time.  For many of us, this is our first time working together in an official and coordinated capacity. Being part of such a diverse coalition has allowed us to examine our own policies and improve both our internal and external commitments to inclusiveness. Participating in a group of all-trans leaders is a first for many of us, and it’s also empowering to see the people who are affected by these issues in the position to shape the future of this landscape.           

What Comes Next

TEEC partners are currently drafting a community survey for all transgender and gender diverse people who live, work, or study in King County. One particular challenge in doing this kind of work within our community is that we have no real data on how many people identify as transgender or gender diverse in King County. The coalition’s goal is to get a sense of not only the size of this community, but also its needs, gaps in resources, and what solutions need to be prioritized. 

We know from research conducted by the US Trans Survey that nearly  a third of respondents were living in poverty as compared to 12% of the US population. This disparity is amplified when referring to trans people of color. This is highly attributed to the 15% unemployment rate among the trans community, which is three times higher than the national average, with trans people of color being affected four times as much at 20%.

What You Can Do Right Now

At a time like this, it can be hard to know where to start or how to help. There are some simple and easy things we can do to help right now. We can begin by supporting trans-owned businesses with our own dollars. As allies, we can also step up by learning how we to best support our trans friends and neighbors in community.

Being a better ally means recognizing that need  that everyone will always be learning and that there will be no end to diversity and inclusion work. Rather, diversity and inclusion is a continuous commitment to prioritize the needs of those who’ve been continuously marginalized and left out of business and economic prosperity.

To continue this work GSBA will be launching employer tools in 2019 to help guide corporations and small businesses as they shape more inclusive and accepting workplaces for all employees. To find out more, and to stay up to date on our progress in the TEEC, email elic@thegsba.org, or subscribe to our email list.