Trans women and non-binary femme tech entrepreneurs have a new legal resource

Transgender and gender non-conforming people are at risk of injustice and discrimination in education, housing, healthcare, public accommodations and employment. As a result of such widespread discrimination against trans and gender non-conforming people, they can be subject to exclusion from spaces that offer tools and resources around entrepreneurship and business development.

Through FEMPRENEUR.XYZ, trans women and non-binary femme entrepreneurs will be able to access pro-bono in-person or web-based services to help them incorporate their businesses and legally change their names. This is all thanks to a partnership between Pipeline Angels, a network of women investors, law firm Goodwin and Riley Hanson of Inclusion Through Innovation.

“A name is a signature of who a person is,” Hanson told me. “For trans people, having their correct name on their documentation, and being able to use it in all situations where a name is normally used, can prevent them from being misgendered and it’s a way to say ‘this is who I truly am’ to the world.”

Meanwhile, it can be dangerous to have a legal name that could out someone as trans or non-binary. When trans and gender non-conforming people were required to present their IDs that did not match their gender identity/expression, 40 percent of those surveyed reported being harassed, 3 percent reported being attacked or assaulted and 15 percent reported being asked to leave, according to a 2011 transgender discrimination survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

It also can be costly to change all of the appropriate documents, contracts and licenses after incorporating a business. That’s why FEMPRENEUR.XYZ wants to make sure that when trans or gender non-conforming entrepreneurs incorporate their businesses, they are registering the business under the name they actually go by.

“If we’re helping [participants] to incorporate businesses with their legal name, which is misgendering them, they’d have to redo all the paperwork,” Pipeline Angels founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera told me. “It’d be great if we could help them get the correct legal name before they even do any of the business incorporation so they can have their papers from day one with their correct name that is legal and doesn’t misgender them.”

Another goal of FEMPRENEUR.XYZ is to try to get more trans women of color to participate in the Pipeline Angels pitch summit. Through the pitch summit, Pipeline Angels has invested more than $2 million in more than 30 companies.

“I’m passionate about activating local capital for entrepreneurs,” Oberti Noguera said. “When the whole anti-trans bill happened, I took a moment and was like, as a cis ally, what should I do. This is where I had my aha moment. How amazing would it be if most, if not all entrepreneurs who applied to Charlotte’s Pipeline Angels summit were trans women or non-binary femme entrepreneurs.”

That’s when Oberti Noguera reached out to Hanson. Hanson, a non-binary femme, said they didn’t feel like they were eligible to apply for Pipeline Angels because of how they identify. So, Oberti Noguera decided to update the pitch summit criteria with more inclusive language.

Through FEMPRENEUR.XYZ, Oberti Noguera and Hanson hope to reach at least 40 people through the in-person launch event in Charlotte, an in-person event in New York and even more people via a webinar hosted on AerialSpaces, an online events platform founded by Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler and Tiffany Mikkell. Anyone who is interested in participating in the FEMPRENEUR.XYZ entrepreneur workshop can sign up here.