(Photo via twitter.com/Think_IBA)
In an action that seems almost normal in today’s topsy-turvy political climate, the president sent out tweets yesterday that again sparked anger and confusion among the transgender community.
The tweets, which apparently even caught the Secretary of Defense off-guard, announced that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military. Since the tweets were published, though, the chairman of the joint chiefs of the military Marine Gen. Joe Dunford has stated there will be “no modifications” to the military’s transgender policy, at least until any official word comes from the Secretary of Defense.
As with any ban the White House has announced and implemented since Trump has been in office, Philadelphia’s residents have made it clear their opposition to such actions and voiced their constitutional rights in refusing such policies.
Zach Wilcha, the executive director of the Independence Business Alliance (IBA), Philly’s Chamber of Commerce that specifically serves the LGBTQ business community and its allies, has so far been encouraged with the city’s responses to such bans and believes it will be much of the same for the recent one aimed at the trans community.
“The majority of Americans, in particular Philadelphians, I think, believe that transgender Americans are a vital part of every facet of American life,” he said.
"Philadelphians, I think, believe that transgender Americans are a vital part of every facet of American life."
IBA has been committed to providing opportunities, access and resources to LGBTQ professionals for the past 10 years. And it was at its 10th anniversary celebration this past May where it announced TransWork, a new initiative dedicated to increasing and expanding work and entrepreneurship opportunities for the transgender community in Philadelphia.
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The program, spearheaded by Marcus Iannozzi, founder and principal of socially focused web development firm Message Agency, has two components: connecting transgender people with supportive employers and promoting transgender entrepreneurship.
While there are similar services around the country like the ones TransWork plans to offer, Wilcha said this kind of support system is innovative in how it will directly connect trans people with the employers who are already part of the IBA Chamber. The program is in its formative stages at the moment, but Wilcha said employers who are interested in being a part of the program are already “lining up at the door.”
The plans in developing and finalizing TransWork for the rest of the summer include holding focus groups with potential employers, trans community leaders and the trans community in general, in addition to building out a dedicated advisory board to ensure that trans voices are included throughout the formation process.
Wilcha said we can expect some sort of “soft launch” of TransWork at this year’s Trans Health Conference in September, with a more official launch event, via a luncheon and job fair combination event, by the end of the year.
In regard to recent national events, Wilcha doesn’t want to speculate as to what could possibly transpire, but he remains dedicated in ensuring LGBTQ folks, and specifically transgender people, that there’s no need to be uncertain.
“We want people to know that there is a safe space for business owners and LGBTQ professionals, as well as trans professionals,” he said. “Not only are we here to provide them connections, we want to make sure that by having them come out, it’s going to be better for business generally, especially in the Philadelphia area.”-30-
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