Something people don’t know about me: As a kid I had a pet pig named Pugsley My favorite sport is: Queer Flag football
Helping the queer community be seen for who they are
BUILDING A FUTURE THAT’S INCLUSIVE. Luke Lennon's enterprise, Namesake Collaborative, isn't just creating a platform for transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals; they're building it with the community. "Those two things are very different, and they must go hand in hand to have real impact and build a product and service that has empathy at its core."
Namesake streamlines identity management to reduce barriers to health and wealth building for the trans and nonbinary community. Luke focused on name changes because it's "such a foundational thing and often taken for granted. Your name isn't something that most people will question, but for the trans community, your identity is something that's constantly questioned."
Luke credits their parents' approach to life - his mom a nurse and his dad a carpenter - for their innate curiosity about how things work. This inquisitiveness extended into his career, where he has enjoyed various experiences, including roles in edtech, food, retail, and youth mentorship.
"My journey has been about embracing the fact that I have followed more of a dynamic path, and in valuing the ways that I can take a variety of experiences or learnings from different industries and disparate communities, bring them together and find power in that."
A pivotal moment in Luke's career trajectory was working at accelerator MassChallenge FinTech as the Brand and Community Director. During his time there, he went through the process of legally changing their name and gender marker. "I saw a variety of global fintech and insurtech solutions that were tackling a similar problem: how do we take these legacy, paper-heavy systems and digitize and streamline them to make it easier for both organizations and the end users?"
LEARNING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. It wasn't until a few years later, when Luke tried to buy a used car, that they fully understood the repercussions of identity when it came to name changes. At the final stage of purchasing, Luke was turned down for a loan by multiple credit unions and the dealership, despite having good credit, due to issues with credit agencies and name changes. "This was years after my name change. It was just a truck for me, but what if I was buying an apartment or trying to access basic needs? That identity document is critical.”
Luke admits that building a product and company from a deeply personal experience can, in challenging moments, leave them feeling vulnerable. However, he believes transparency is key to establishing Namesake within the community. "My philosophy in building this with community is that if we can't help you right now, we'll find people that will get you the answers you need.
"I see transness as a superpower and something that makes me innately human. I'm learning to embrace that not only as a founder but as a person, partner and friend. I'm learning to hold all of those identities at once and not to sacrifice pieces of myself to fit into certain molds, but rather see them as an asset and something that makes going through life much more meaningful."