BUILDING TRANS JUSTICE THROUGH TRANS LEADERSHIP
Leadership development among transgender communities is a core component of TSC’s work. Much of our work is focused on helping organizations grow and become increasingly effective and sustainable. But we know that this cannot happen without leaders who are supported, trained, and engaged in meaningful and relevant leadership development.
This means that there must be trans-designed and led trainings that meet the learning, professional development, and content needs of trans leaders, particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) leaders. We know that too often, leadership development trainings and models were not built for trans communities. For transgender participants, engaging in these trainings can feel unsatisfying, and even alienating. The only leadership development trainings TSC offers are trans-informed, designed, and led. We also offered individualized leadership coaching, based on individual needs and professional goals.
Below are examples of TSC leadership development efforts and partnerships:
The Master Class
In partnership with the Holistic Empowerment Institute, an emerging organization founded and led by Valerie Spencer, TSC has incubated and piloted a unique and visionary leadership development model, The Master Class. The initial pilot was designed by and for trans women of color (TWOC).
Participants completed an 8-month program which included learning about leadership and related topics, self-reflections, mentorship, a service learning component, and real-life applications. The entire program applies an academic approach matched to the needs and interests of the participants. The initial pilot took place with grantees of AIDS United’s FREE initiative.
The Master Class empowers TWOC to not only step into leadership, but to step ahead as leaders. It is an opportunity for participants to put a plan in place to realize their professional aspirations, while also learning new skills and insights on self-care. The program is framed in a holistic approach, using whole-person, evidence based practices, cultural affirmation, and spirit as primary tools to empowerment.
The Master Class includes a service-learning component that is designed by participants, as well as one-on-one mentoring. The Masterclass strengthens skills on topics including:
Networking, communications, public speaking
Grant-writing and fundraising
Self-care and healing
Advocacy and campaign development
Integrating racial justice
Integrating Meaningful Involvement of People with HIV/AIDS (MIPA)
Building a vision and planning the path to achievement
How to coalesce with other trans/community leaders
Honoring individuality while understanding professional culture
In collaboration with TSC, Positive Women’s Network USA (PWN-USA) recruited and developed a network of transgender women of color across the United States. This was the founding cohort of the RISE (Resist, Inspire, Sustain through Education) Training Academy. The goals of the Training Academy are to ensure our communities (Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native American, Native Hawaiian, immigrants, transgender folk, people living with HIV) are connected to one another, engaged, and educated on key advocacy issues.
The participants were certified as trainers in HIV and HIV-adjacent spaces. The Academy training took place through virtual webinars and focused on advancing trans-led education and empowerment, with an emphasis on economic justice. The cohort was prepared to successfully facilitate and lead workshops on topics including Trans History, Trans Justice is Gender Justice, Racial Justice in Trans Spaces, and Trans-Centered Sexual Health and Reproductive Justice. Coaching and support was a key component for each participant throughout the project.
TSC and PWN-USA provided participants with tools and templates to continue building strategies and technology supporting Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming specific trainings. In order to maximize individual economic empowerment as a result of the training, participants were also provided information on how to maximize their own personal branding. After graduation, members of the cohort were compensated for the delivery of trainings in settings they had identified as priority audiences: HIV, LGBTQ and reproductive justice advocates. Trainings sought to promote political analysis and deepen recognition of intersections within our diverse communities.