WoCA 2021: Increasing Support and Allyship for Transgender and Nonbinary Communities

The following session is from DiversityInc’s fourth annual Women of Color and Their Allies event, held Oct. 21, 2021. This year’s theme was “Sustaining Workforce Positions for Women of Color.” Throughout the day, panels consisting of researchers, thought leaders and executives shared their insights and strategies for helping women of color overcome common workplace barriers and spotlight allies working to sustain their positions within the workforce.



  • David Rice, Senior Content Editor at DiversityInc


  • Gabrielle Claiborne, Co-Founder and CEO of Transformation Journeys Worldwide
  • Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative for Human Rights Campaign

Up until the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, more than half of the individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ working in the U.S. could be subjected to harassment, denied a promotion, or fired without cause.

During our informative and data-packed session, our panelists will discuss the trials and tribulations gender-nonconforming individuals face in the workplace, the strides that have been made in recent years, and the work remaining to be done in the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the challenges transgender and nonbinary individuals face in the world and workplace.
  • Evaluate the misconceptions and biases that create barriers for transgender and nonbinary communities.
  • Apply that knowledge to increase support, eliminate bias, and advance programs for transgender and nonbinary professionals in the workplace.

Session Highlights

“Organizations are really focused on what they can do internally, but they also need to understand how they show up outside of the organization’s four walls is very important. Are you showing up in the spaces that I live, move and have my being in? When you show up in those spaces, and I see you, and you are very intentional in your communication, then I’m going to start paying attention to you and say, ‘Hey, you could be an employer of choice for me.’” — Gabrielle Claiborne

“When we talk about programs, when we talk about work initiatives that are inclusive, there are still folks who say, ‘well, we don’t have any trans people that work here. We don’t have any gender-diverse people that work here.’ The truth is you don’t know. I think of equity work as the field of dreams; if you build it, they will come. People don’t always feel safe or affirmed in sharing with you who they are, so make sure that you’re providing a safe and affirming space for people, wherever it is that you work.” — Tori Cooper

“Your messaging is tied to your values. Make sure that your messaging is clear and visible to your suppliers, customers and internal employees. When you’re putting that messaging together, ensure you use the language relevant to our own personal lived experience, gender identity and gender expression in your communications. When we see these terms show up in your diversity statement, your nondisclosure statement, supplier diversity statement, then we’re going to say, ‘okay, this company has done the work. They’re ready to meet us where they are.’” — Gabrielle Claiborne

“I often say that as a Black person, I want to see all my clans people, I want to see them in their KKK garb, and I want them to walk around unmasked, with Confederate belts on. I want them to have the Hitler stickers in their windows because I like to know who my racists are. I don’t want them to be shrouded in mystery. It’s the same thing as a trans person. I want to know who the haters are. I want to know who the opposition is. I don’t want you to look like a friend. I want you to look like the opposition. We have to know that as allies, we have to look and function as allies at all times. That means that sometimes you have to stand up to people and say, ‘we understand and respect your conservative values. But we also understand that this community needs to be served as well. We also understand the bottom line is we want their money just as much as we want yours.” — Tori Cooper

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