THOUSAND FOR ALL: QUEER VOICES

June 16, 2020

THOUSAND FOR ALL: QUEER VOICES
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At Thousand, we believe that businesses, communities, and teams are made better when there are different voices and opinions at the table. Our priority is to amplify the voices of those who are usually not given the opportunity to be heard. That's why, to celebrate Pride this month, we're giving our platform to our queer and BIPOC team members, to elevate their messages and share what inclusivity and community mean to them.

First, meet Victor Go.


Thousand: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Victor Go: I am a Mexican-American Transgender Non-Binary visual artist and poet. My pronouns are they/them. Growing up I always wanted to be a performer, a singer, a speaker, someone who used their body as a vessel for storytelling. I became a community organizer to help my community share their magic. I seek to prioritize Black and Brown Trans voices and stories. 

T: What are some LGBTQ+ organizations that you love?

VG: Transgender District runs the world’s first legally-recognized transgender district, right in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, founded by Black trans women.

For The Gworls raises funds to assist Black Trans folks to pay their rent and have gender-affirming procedures.

Black Trans Travel Fund provides Black Trans women in New York & New Jersey with funding for private car rides as safer transportation options. Currently, Black Trans women are disproportionately targeted by police, acts of violence, and murder, so it's crucial that we protect the members of our society most at risk.

I'm also one of the founders of Spacemakers – founded in February 2019, alongside my partner, Ly Tran. Our relationship provided us a space to have conversations regarding cultural identity and its impact on the idea of success for queer and trans BIPOC in America. Together we discovered that these conversations were happening privately amongst ourselves and peers, but there really was no public space dedicated to exploring the elements that connect us. The objective of Spacemakers is to get our community offline, off their devices and into a physical space to hold meaningful discussions about our complex identities.  As we build kinship through our activities, we begin to mobilize our efforts to positively shape the world surrounding us to be accessible and inclusive. Spacemakers has successfully connected kindhearted strangers to become friends, mentors, artistic collaborators, and most importantly, a network of unconditional support. 

You can learn more about Spacemakers by following @spcmkrs on Instagram, and by reading some interviews with The Impressionist and Burdock Media. We also recorded a very short podcast interview with Full Service Radio

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T: What makes a comfortable and inclusive workplace for you? What kind of policies do you think foster an environment of diversity and inclusion?

VG: Comfortable and inclusive workplaces for Transgender people are easily achievable by organizations of any size. Business leaders must foster an environment that is free of harassment, discrimination, and danger by not only enforcing policy within their whole team, but by actively promoting specific instances of inclusivity. It is not enough to have generic anti-discrimination policies. Employers must express their acknowledgement of Transgender identities and openly advocate for them. Here are some tangible tools to create an inclusive work environment:

- Confront cisgender privilege in the workplace by addressing it in your employee handbooks, values, policies, and training. Seek Trans voices who are willing to help you shape the appropriate ways to address this topic. You can put a call out companywide, so you don't out anyone without their consent, as well as reach out to local LGBTQIA organizations who can best consult on the matter, and pay them accordingly.

- Discuss examples of microaggressions, comments, behaviors, and nuances that contribute to transphobic work environments.

- Hold your cisgender employees and coworkers accountable by formally reporting/correcting their actions and continuously providing appropriate training as needed.

- Allow yourself to be corrected, this is a learning and unlearning process.

It is not enough to speak about diversity and inclusion as a concept – it takes action and is an ongoing practice. I am grateful that Thousand has provided me with a safe space to celebrate my identity and share tools to continuously educate my teammates on Trans inclusivity. It makes a world of difference to have employers who are eager to share this information with their teams – business leaders should be imploring other business owners to do the same.

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T: Any misperceptions or misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community that you want to correct?

VG: 1. Understand that this justice movement has always been pioneered by Black and Brown Trans women. Black Trans women face the highest levels of policing, unemployment, homelessness, and murder. We must mobilize efforts to protect this community with our privilege, capital, resources, and political participation. We have to address transphobia within our own friendships and families, workplaces, law systems, media, and beyond as a daily conscious practice.

2. Gender identity does not require medical procedures, legal recognition, or social acceptance to be considered valid. Gender is socially constructed, and how we subscribe to those constructs is not indicative of our value as humans. Transgender people understand gender to be more complex and expansive than what society has projected onto us based on our biological anatomy.

3. It is not the responsibility of queer or trans people to teach you how to treat them. Do your own research to be an active ally. It is emotionally and mentally taxing to have to teach and correct heterosexual and cisgender people daily. We need you to respect who we say we are, not who you perceive us to be based on your learned ideology. This is something cisgender privilege allows you to not ever have to think about, so take into consideration that we are often put in the position to advocate for ourselves when it should be cisgender people having these conversations with each other.


NEXT UP,  MEET PETEY GIBSON.

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Thousand: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Petey Gibson: Hey all – I'm Petey. I'm a trans guy, actor, producer, activist, and kids' content creator... plus I have done a little bit of everything at Thousand! Did you like the words on our website 2 years ago? That was ya boy. Did you get shipped a helmet in the past couple years? That was me too! Do you like some of our models? I recommended my friends! I've known Gloria and Amar since before Thousand was even an idea, and watching it grow and being a part of it has been amazingly gratifying. It's a great, diverse, small team without much ego – pretty rare.

When I'm not at Thousand... yeah, I do a bit of everything. I've mentored trans youth, had bit parts on Broad City and Grace & Frankie, and I learned how to do 10 pull ups in a row which is obviously at the fore of my accomplishments. I left Thousand for a little bit to produce and star in a feature length film. I like the way little kids' minds work and laughing at dumb memes. I like radical social justice and active allyship and ice cream and showing up hard for things I believe in. I'm on Facebook and sometimes Instagram – @petey_gibson. And here's my website  for videos and things.

T: What are some LGBTQ+ organizations that you love?

PG: I work with a drag collective called Them Fatale – we were just about to launch monthly shows when the pandemic hit. Follow @themfataledragkings to find us when we start up again. It's an incredibly talented collection of queer performers, with all the proceeds going to local fundraising efforts and passion projects of our queer community. We have raised money for the Unique Woman's Coalition, founded by and dedicated to serving the Black trans community. You can donate directly to them to help support that work – and I would really appreciate it if you did!

T: Any misperceptions or misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community that you want to correct? 

PG: Always! The LGBTQIA community is extremely diverse and intersectional! For a long time gay white men have held the mic, but I believe centering our allyship on trans BIPOC women is the dang key (and always has been – that's who started the Stonewall Riots in '69!) Gender identity is different than attraction, folks in our community can identify with several letters, definitely one letter, and not others. But we're a welcoming crew.

And since I have the mic (thanks again Team Thousand!) I'd love to put out a call to our allies: First, thank you – as we see now across the nation, it has always been the majority that ultimately wields the power needed to force lasting action on a systemic level. Minorities can fight and fight but when allies make themselves uncomfortable and stick their necks out, we can get so much farther. Second, if I may encourage you to push – I believe that allyship is active and ever-evolving. True allyship means being curious, humble, uncomfortable, and unconditional. What that means is supporting a cause you believe in, even if your involvement in it is decentered or even unappreciative of the work you're doing. Do it anyway. Do it because you care – because the trans teenage boys that I work with have a sixty percent suicide attempt rate. Because violence and murder disproportionately affect trans women, especially trans BIPOC women. And even now, our protections are consistently on the line with this administration – literally this week Trump is actively seeking to ban same-sex couples from being able to adopt. Just because same-sex marriage is legal does not mean anything is "solved." And this type of fight for your basic right to exist is exhausting. So thank you for the allyship. This month, I urge you to learn more about Black Trans Lives, throw your support where you can, and keep up the fight. #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter Thanks all!


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