by L.G. Parker

The statistics are daunting and all around us. Because black, because queer, because trans, because gender-non-conforming, because, because, because… we are less likely to be hired, more likely to go without. Some of our loved ones might even suggest that we stop acting like a lil boy or girl, stop playing dress up, grow up and look decent and get a job. Maybe some of them are well meaning, but the fact remains that those suggestions are harmful and do not help us cope with the many ways that we already fear the way various discriminations will impact our finances and employability.

I like to consider the following business owners when I start to worry about these things.


Vanessa-Newman-butchbaby1. Vanessa Newman – Butchbaby Company, CEO

Butchbaby Company, founded by Newman and Michelle Janayea, produces “Pregnancy wear designed with genderqueer, masculine-of-center, androgynous, and transgender individuals in mind.” The company has been featured in New York Magazine’s “The Cut”, Fast Company, Elle, and other major publications. Join the mailing list to stay updated on Newman and Butchbaby Company.





(Left to Right) Joy Petway, Emily Rizzo, Lee Perine

2. Joy Petway – Achieving Joy, Founder


Achieving Joy is a two-person team – Petway and Emily Rizzo – that focuses on issues of mental illness and achieving wellness within queer women’s communities. Their mission is to heal and empower the queer and lesbian community one person and couple at a time. Some of their past events include their inaugural Undressed Conference and recent Art of Manifestation workshop. Check their website for upcoming workshops and events, including the second Undressed conference.


ross-transtech3. Angelica Ross – Trans Tech, CEO

Deemed the “first foot solider of 2015” by Melissa Harris-Perry, Ross is the founding CEO of Trans Tech Social Enterprises. Ross describes Trans Tech as “a training academy and apprenticeship program that aims to empower, educate and employ the trans community through the use of technology while promoting innovation, independence and entrepreneurship.”



kortney4. Dr. Kortney Ziegler – Trans*h4CK, Founder and COO

Through hackathons and other events, Trans*H4CK tackles the social issues of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness often experienced by trans*, gender non conforming, agender and non binary people live by “creating technology that economically empowers, improves access to social services, promotes gender safety and community sustainability” while also empowering and spotlighting trans* entrepenurs and innovators in tech fields.


ashley-patrice5. Ashley Patrice – Bee Lux, CEO

Since 2009, Patrice has been creating natural goods with the ultimate goal of aiding communities in becoming “whole through natural pharmaceutics”. Now based in Atlanta, the Bee Lux line uses all natural ingredients in their skin and body care products that have you covered from head to toe.






6. Kimberley McCleod – ELIXHER, CEO

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, McCleod is the founder and editor-in-chief of Elixher Magazine, a GLAAD Media Award-nominated  website and magazine.





7. Lee Levingston Perine – The Makers Lab, CEO


Perine is the founder of The Makers Lab, a Washington, D.C. based collective of creators, storytellers, and curators that create spaces to celebrate art, life, & culture. Some of their recent events include the Honey Groove festival, District of Queer, and Audre Lorde Birthday Celebration. Follow them for information on upcoming events.


dot-reid-refuge for-men



8. Dot Reid – Refuge for Men, CEO

Inspired by her own experiences at barbershops in the 90’s, Reid founded Refuge for Men in the heart of Richmond, VA. The barbershop is emphatic about supporting local artists, as evidenced by the shop’s mural painted by Richmond based artist Hamilton Glass.