To all of the folks who are dealing with or facing homelessness, please know that we are here for you.

Below I’m sharing a guide that I built just for you. It’s meant to help you figure out how to navigate homelessness, by giving you real steps that may help keep you safe along the way, peppered in with a few pieces of my own story.

Regardless of whether you are already on the street right now, or just know that its on the horizon, I want to begin by letting you know that you are not alone.

While we, at Trans Empowerment Project, are still very much a small grassroots organization with a budget of next to nothing, we do have skills, resources, friends, and volunteers that offer their community and support.

I personally spent just under a decade being homeless myself, and I know how painful it can be. I also know what it takes to get through it and I know that you too can do this.

The guide is below, I truly hope it helps. ??

Before you go, homelessness is hard, but together, we can get you out of this crisis and into a place where you feel more empowerment than you may be feeling right now. 

My guide was designed to help anyone who is facing homelessness to make it through this difficult time.

This is a free resource for anyone who’s interested in reading it, I just ask a few things:

1) If you are someone who is reading this for education and not survival that you will make a donation to Trans Empowerment Project, so we can continue to provide more vital resources for QTPOC. 

With every $50 we raise, we can feed someone in our community for roughly a week.​ We are also aiming for a goal of building our first homeless shelter in Detroit by the end of 2021 and we could use your help.

Donate here.

2) If you find this guide helpful please share it on social media so that it can find its way into the hands of others who might be struggling.

3) Join our mailing list so you can stay up to date with more ways to rise in solidarity for our QTPOC.

If you are having trouble seeing the guide above, or want a printable version to share, please use the QR code below:

The holidays have come ‘round again and it’s time for families and friends to gather together and celebrate. Lots of you might be gathering for the first time since covid began, which is already nerve-wracking enough. What you might not know is that a significant number of people have come out as trans or non-binary during the last almost 2 years of quarantine and isolation. Your friend or family member will need support, and if you can put aside any biases or assumptions you have and be affirming, it will go a long way towards making sure you have a relationship with them in the future. Below are 10 tips you can use this holiday season to be the best ally you can be for your trans or non-binary loved ones. 

  1. Pronouns and name – ALWAYS use your loved one’s new name and pronouns. If you don’t know, ask, and then practice ahead of time. Don’t make excuses like “it’s just too hard, I’ve known you as (blank) for so long!” Practice, practice, practice, so that you don’t mess up when you see them. 
    1. Speaking of “them”, let’s take a moment to talk about they/them pronouns since they seem to get a lot of pushback from folks who don’t think they/them should be used as a singular pronoun. What you might not realize is that we have been using they/them as a singular pronoun for centuries and that you’ve been doing it your whole life. For example: “Oh no, someone dropped their keys in the parking lot. I will try to find them so that I can return their keys.” It’s not as hard as you think it is, it just takes practice.
  1. Check-in and educate yourself beforehand – The best thing you can do as an ally is to follow the lead of your loved one. If they seem excited to talk about their name change, pronouns, transition journey, etc, by all means, share that joy with them. Just remember that it’s not up to you to lead that conversation. Don’t expect your loved one to show up and answer every question you or other guests have about trans people. 
    1. While some folks don’t mind answering questions if they’re framed politely and respectfully, some trans people don’t have it in them to give that kind of emotional labor, especially during a time that’s probably already very stressful for them. Marginalized people do not owe you an education on their experiences. Be proactive and learn what you can ahead of time. If you’re unsure of where to start, we’ve included further resources below.
  1. Don’t ask questions you wouldn’t ask a cis person (a cisgender person is someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth) – This should be obvious but you should never ask questions of your trans or non-binary loved one that you wouldn’t ask of a cis person. Asking questions like “have you had any surgeries” or “what’s in your pants” or “which bathroom do you use when you’re in public” is incredibly offensive. You wouldn’t ask a cisgender person these questions, so don’t ask them of your trans or non-binary loved ones. The answers to these questions are none of your business and asking them only makes your trans loved one(s) extremely uncomfortable. 
  1. Gendered traditions – Lots of folks have family traditions that they perform during the holidays, whether that’s having folks only buy gifts for family members of the same gender or having the post-meal tradition of men watching football and women cleaning up the kitchen. If your loved one is a trans man or trans woman, including them in the traditions that were formerly forbidden to them because of their assigned gender at birth can be really affirming and is a great way to make them feel accepted.
    • If your family member is anything other than a binary trans person (trans man or trans woman), any “gendered” traditions are likely to, by default, not feel inclusive to them. Consider speaking with them to see if together you can brainstorm ideas for new traditions that will help them feel seen and validated. 
  1. Recounting old stories/sharing pictures – Ah, those good times when your family and friends recount funny, heartwarming, and/or embarrassing stories about your youth! Remember though, your trans or non-binary loved one went by a different name and/or pronouns back then, so you need to adjust your stories accordingly. Don’t say things like “back when *so-and-so* was a girl” or “before *blank* came out as non-binary”, just tell the story like you normally would and replace all the old names and pronouns with the correct ones. If this seems daunting, don’t forget to practice ahead of time! Also, some trans or non-binary folks do not like seeing pictures from before they transitioned as it can make them feel dysphoric, so be sure to ask them privately about their comfortability before you whip out any childhood/pre-transition photos. 
  1. Don’t “out” them to anyone else – Just because your trans or non-binary loved one came out to you (and maybe even the rest of the family), it doesn’t mean they’re ready to come out to everyone. While they may have wanted to share this wonderful news with you during the holidays, they might still have to stay closeted at work and/or other social situations. Outside of the circle of people who will be at this holiday gathering, do not assume that anyone else knows they’re trans or non-binary or that it’s safe for them to come out to everyone around them. Trans people have a right to come out to who they want to, in the ways they want to, and in their own time. Even if you mean well, outting them could put their livelihood, or even their life, in danger.
  1. Gift-giving – Okay, so you’ve been buying gifts for this person for years but now that they’ve come out, you’re not sure what to give them. What the heck are you going to do?! 
    • Well, you can always ask! Your loved one may be trying to build a new wardrobe, or compiling a makeup collection for the first time, or exploring toiletries/hygiene products that they’ve never used before. (If they’re looking for something along these lines, and you have a product that you use and love, which you think they’d love too, share it with them! What better way to find new commonalities through gift-giving!?) You can also ask them if there’s anything they want or need, even if it’s something fun and silly like a toy they always wanted as a kid but weren’t allowed to have because of traditional gender roles. 
  1. How to handle the problematic family member(s) – Regrettably, there’s almost always going to be “that” friend or family member at your gathering. You know, the one who repeatedly misgenders and/or deadnames your trans or non-binary loved one? Or even the one who idolizes a certain president who tried like hell to make life for trans folks even harder than it already is? Well, it’s your job as an ally to run defense between your trans or non-binary loved one and problematic Aunt Karen, and you don’t have to be an expert on trans people or politics to do it. If someone is misgendering, deadnaming, or otherwise making your trans or non-binary loved one feel uncomfortable or excluded, it’s your duty to set boundaries with this person to let them know you will not tolerate any disrespect of your trans loved one. You don’t have to be loud or aggressive, you just have to be firm, ally is a verb and it’s something we must continually strive to be, even in difficult situations.
  1. Make space for their comfort, not yours – Using a different name and set of pronouns for someone you’ve known your whole life might seem difficult, seeing your loved one as their authentic selves instead of the person others thought them to be might make you feel like you lost someone, and standing up to a problematic friend or family member might be your worst nightmare, but this isn’t the time to make it about you. Your trans or non-binary loved one needs to see that you’re actively working to support them. They need you to be an ally, even when they’re not around. Your acceptance and support are key to making sure that they’ll still be around in the future, and not just at family gatherings. 41% of all trans people have attempted suicide at some point in their life, but having a supportive parent or family member can cut those instances almost in half. Just by being a decent, respectful human being, you could literally be saving their life!
The background is a small town in winter with snow capped mountains. A large snow flake is centered. 

On screen text: What to do if you make a mistake?

Don't worry everyone makes mistakes. Your Trans* loved one is most likely not going to hold you to impossible standards, especially if they see you truly making an effort. If you do slip up and make a mistake, like. using the wrong name or pronoun, you don't need to make a big deal of it. Simply apologize (once is enough) thank them for reminding you and move on with the conversation. Resolve yourself to do better next time.

Happy Holidays, TEP
  1. What to do if you mess up?  

We know, all of this seems pretty heavy at first. You’re probably worried that you’re going to screw up somehow and it’s giving you a ton of anxiety. Don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes and your trans loved one is most likely not going to hold you to impossible standards, especially if they see you truly making an effort. What you can’t do is continue to make the same mistakes without acknowledging and working on them, or make your loved one feel like it’s somehow their fault that you’re having to learn how to use this new information. 

Trans people should not be made to feel like a burden for existing. You do not need to make a huge deal when you do make a mistake. Crying, apologizing repeatedly, and forcing your loved one to console you over your mistake is not the way to show you care. If your loved one (or another ally friend or family member) points out that you slipped up on a name or pronoun, the *only* thing you should do is apologize (once is enough), thank them for reminding you, and move on with the conversation, resolving to do better next time. 

Congratulations! Your trans or non-binary loved one trusted you enough to share this truth about themselves with you, which means they want you to be a part of this new life they’re about to embark on. Please be the support system they need and give them the love and acceptance they deserve. Happy holidays!

Further resources: 

Register Now

Show up and Glow Up for Trans Day of Visibility on March 31! Breakaway from the mundane and glow up for this virtual event hosted by Trans Empowerment Project. The theme is metamorphosis so – go wild, go glam, go over the top with that look you’ve been practicing all quarantine.

Join us at 8 pm (EDT) for this free, fun, all-ages dance party. It will be the PLACE TO BE to celebrate with community! *This event is open to trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks. If you’re an ally, please consider participating by signing up to be a sponsor, rather than attending the event. We want to make sure this is a safe space for folks in our community to be their authentic selves. To find out how to become a sponsor of this and future events, please reach out to info@transempowerment.org.

Written by: Roman Cohen

Navigating the job market is difficult enough as it is; for trans* people, it can be even more challenging due to discriminatory policies and invalidating work environments. It seems that the tide is starting to turn thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of civil rights protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ employees in June 2020. However, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey, “nearly one-quarter (23%) of those who had a job in the past year reported other forms of mistreatment based on their gender identity or expression during that year, such as being forced to use a restroom that did not match their gender identity, being told to present in the wrong gender to keep their job, or having a boss or coworker share private information about their transgender status without their permission.” That’s why Trans Empowerment Project has put together this list of best places to work for trans* people. We hope this article can serve as a guide to make your job search a little less daunting. 

Technology

Amazon: Amazon offers transgender health benefits and an internal LGBTQ+ employee coalition called glamazon. Glamazon created a toolkit for Amazon’s transgender employees as well.

Apple: Apple emphasizes diversity and inclusion, making them one of the most progressive companies out there. They have received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the past 16 years. They also offer transgender health benefits.

AT&T: AT&T has a history of being ahead of the game when it comes to diversity and inclusion. They have partnered with several LGBTQ+ organizations, such as The Trevor Project, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign. They also have an employee resource group for LGBTQ+ folks called LEAGUE. AT&T has offered transgender health benefits since 2006. 

Law

Arnold & Porter: Arnold & Porter actively recruits LGBT+ employees, has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign and the National LGBT+ Bar and has a Pride affinity group for training and career advancement. 

Baker McKenzie: The law firm is one of 14 companies to be named one of the Stonewall’s Top Global Employers. They have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy, offer pro bono work for LGBTQ+, and have sensitivity training for employees. They are one of the most proactive transgender-friendly employers. 

Finance

Charles Schwab: Charles Schwab has received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index since 2004. They have a strong understanding of diversity in the workplace, and many employees note that their culture is exceptionally inclusive. 

Mastercard: Mastercard time and time again has set an exemplary standard of transgender acceptance for their customers, such as their TrueName initiative, which allows transgender people to have a payment card with their name whether or not they have legally changed it. This attitude exists in company culture as well, and their employee benefits for LGBTQ+ people are some of the most comprehensive out there. These benefits include transgender surgery coverage, gender equality initiatives, and an overall intersectional understanding of inclusion

Retail/Food Service 

Gap Inc.: The Gap empire includes Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Intermix. They have received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 15 years. They have an internal LGBTQ+ networking group called GEAR. Gap Inc. is also the first and only global apparel retail company to sign the UN Human Rights LGBTI Corporate Standards of Conduct for Business

Starbucks: Starbucks is well-known as a particularly trans-friendly workplace. They offer a benefits package with extensive coverage for trans employees. Benefits include gender reassignment surgery and lifetime coverage for services such as voice therapy and facial feminization, which are often categorized as “cosmetic,” and therefore not usually covered. Their coverage complies with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards

Macy’s: Macy’s has a strong acceptance policy for customers and employees alike. They have specific diversity goals and have put their diversity values into action. Macy’s has partnered with The Trevor Project, a transgender advocacy organization, and the Human Rights Campaign. They also have an employee resource group, Pride, for LGBTQ+ employees. Macy’s full transgender policy is available here

To find more of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ folks, please refer to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index here. To learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s “Who’s Hiring” Web Seminar, click here. For advice on coming out at work, please refer to this Human Rights Campaign article. For tips about finding inclusive places to work, check out this Muse article. If you need help applying for a job, figuring out where to apply, or help networking, check out the Trans Employment Program. Best of luck on the job search!  

Please note that this list was compiled based on copious amounts of research; however, workplaces may vary in their actual implementation of individual policies or company culture. For every positive policy in place, there may be a negative anecdote from an employee. Research is just that: research. It cannot fully account for the actual quotidian experiences of trans employees. 

How we helped during 2019:

HRT Assistance: 82 (avg. cost to fulfill $45)

Toiletry Boxes filled in 2019: 71 (avg. cost to ship $11)

Clothing Packages: Total Requested 200- Filled in 2019: 56 (avg. cost to ship $30/box)

Delivered Food Packages: 121 (avg. price $50/delivery)

Below is a breakdown:

MonthShirtsPantsShoesToiletriesHRTFood PackagesTotals for the month
Jan63122115
Feb42315419
Mar22315316
Apr76644532
May3446101138
Jun46766736
Jul16101213132185
Aug9108891357
Sep79910101661
Oct121010741558
Nov131010751560
Dec666691043
2019 Totals8978797182121520