Lifting trans people up through technology
TAKING MULTIFACETED TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. Many people recognize Angelica Ross as an entertainer and public figure: she is an accomplished speaker, a talented actress and singer (Pose, American Horror Story, Claws), and a passionate human rights advocate focusing on Black liberation around the world especially for Black queer and trans folks. Fewer people might be aware of this dynamic woman’s career in technology and business: Angelica is also an entrepreneur, as the Founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises.
Angelica always had a knack for technology—she is a self-taught programmer, and for a time, she was a self-employed webmaster, photo retoucher, graphic designer, and more. Eventually, after returning home to Wisconsin to provide care to her mother, Angelica got a job at a non-profit that provided career development services to the trans community. “I was initially pumped...initially,” she comments. Ultimately, Angelica found she and her co-workers did not share a vision for uplifting and empowering trans people: “I was instantly tokenized by the white gays, white lesbians, and cis folks. They all had ideas about how to help the trans community, but weren’t listening to the trans community, or even their own [trans] staff,” she explains.
Through this experience, Angelica came to understand the pitfalls of support that is not community-minded: “Sometimes when people want to help others—they mean it, they mean well—but they see the people they want to help as visitors. When you’re seen as a ‘visitor’ and not a part of the community, you can feel it. Right then, I realized that this problem wasn’t going to be solved by people who saw me as a visitor, who didn’t see me as part of their community.” Further, Angelica recognized that her intersectionality—her identity as both a trans female and a woman of color—was critical to her perspective, suggesting that “this wasn’t just about trans people, but also very much about black and brown trans people too. And that meant that a black trans woman needed to kick this stuff off, needed to make it her priority.”
ACTING AS AN AGENT OF CHANGE. “I fully up and quit my job to start TransTech. No money, on foodstamps, because I was serious. I gave up a salary and refused to be tokenized. When you want to illustrate your own value and create your own lane, you do what you have to do.”
Angelica observes that she was prepared for entrepreneurialism because, like other trans people, adversity and advocacy are part of daily living, noting that “when you’re trans, you have to fight every day and advocate for yourself everyday. There is no book, and there is no map. You have to take your trauma, and then you create trauma-informed care and trauma-informed business models.” She also sees how TransTech Social can uplift and empower her community, noting that “if trans people aren’t given the right tools to engage, they are left behind in a world that often already leaves them behind.”
The power of entrepreneurialism is evident to Angelica. She believes that “entrepreneurs can do more than just make money—they can make changes, they champion ideas, and they can invest in others. They are not just an ecosystem unto themselves and their customers or clients—they are also change agents and activists, if they want to be,” she asserts.
While she will continue to be known as an actor, appearing on American Horror Story and other shows, Angelica remains dedicated to her entrepreneurial projects—in growing TransTech, and launching a new business called My Personal PhD, a model for personal success, Angelica is acting as an agent of change for her community: “I don’t care what kind of resistance I’m going to get—I have moves to make and lives to change. I started first with my own, and now I’m on a mission to do the same for anyone else.”
- Gay Times [Print]: Gay Times Magazine