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While many know Angelica Ross for her work on the Ryan Murphy series Pose and American Horror Story, her sights have long been set on transforming another industry—the world of technology.

In 2001, when another trans woman recognized Ross was “good with computers,” she offered her a job running a website. “I knew how to do none of that when she asked, but I got learning fast,” says Ross, 43, explaining she used online resources to teach herself how to code. Through this experience, Ross saw an opportunity—not just for herself, but for her community.

The social services at the time pathologized, rather than empowered, trans people, Ross says, and she believed she could do better by providing a direct route to employment in the tech industry. “They were more interested in creating metrics to get funding from federal grants by checking trans people off as boxes, giving them a bus pass, a piece of pizza, and an HIV test … not illuminating the path to a job,” Ross says.

In 2014, she launched TransTech—a nonprofit organization of technology professionals dedicated to providing resources and access to the LGBTQ+ community through job training workshops, programs, and events. TransTech set out not only to make space for trans people and other marginalized people in the tech industry, but also to work toward closing the wealth gap for trans people and people of color. LGBTQ+ workers earn about 90 cents for every dollar of other workers, according to the Human Rights Campaign, with transgender women and men and nonbinary individuals earning even less. And Black and Latino transgender adults are more likely to live in poverty than transgender people of other races.

Keeping TransTech going wasn’t always easy. White LGBTQ+ individuals questioned her leadership, she says, and potential investors—even those specifically with capital for trans-led organizations—doubted the business model, leading to funding issues. Ross slept in her office and showered at the gym to keep her dream alive. “Most of the time, my bank accounts were negative,” Ross says. “But TransTech’s bills were always paid.”

Today, TransTech boasts a full-time executive director and partnerships with corporations and financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Career Circle. Collaborations with and The Linux Foundation provide members with access to certifications and consultation experience in cybersecurity.

For the future of TransTech, Ross says she hopes to dismantle the elitist barriers that stand between the LGBTQ+ community and tech. “What I want to see is women, LGBTQ people, and marginalized folks from all over the world coming together under the umbrella of TransTech and creating a front of solidarity that cannot be broken,” she says.

Correction, February 1

The original version of this story mischaracterized TransTech’s partnerships. The organization works with Career Circle, The Linux Foundation,, and JP Morgan Chase & Co., but not with PayPal and NASA.

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