Starting a new tech business as a transgender woman

Mount Teide — Spain’s highest peak and an active volcano

I have been an entrepreneur for most of my professional life. In the last fifteen years, I have launched two successful businesses. My previous company, SupportBee, helped me to transition, and I couldn’t be more proud of it. Yet, at the beginning of this year, when my transition came to an end, I found myself very restless.

I live in Barcelona and work from home, and I can go about my day to day life without any unpleasant friction. I can live this life not only because I have the means to do so, but because many before me have fought for my rights. Ironically, I find myself in a privileged position in my community. As a financially independent transgender woman with a loving family, my transition has been about as smooth as it gets — difficult and exhausting but not limited by health insurance, or an unsupportive workspace.

Not everyone is so fortunate, and my gender transition woke me up to the inequality and injustice in the world. To the fact that human rights aren’t given — they are fought for and taken. Everything I can do as a transgender person — changing my legal identity, gender-affirming surgeries, or even something as simple as Hormone replacement therapy, is because others before me have laid the path for me. The world is changing, but only because a few people are leading the change. They are the ones fighting for equal rights for the minorities, including this planet. I want to be part of this change. I want to do my bit in creating a better future for those who come after me.

I enjoy writing and talking to people about gender and equality. I’ll continue to do that forever. However, I believe that I can do my best by creating a new business. It’s where I can add the most value as a human being. And I believe that companies can be tools for transformation. A company is a microcosm of bold ideas, or at least it can be. Concepts like work/life balance, equal opportunities for everyone, and a ‘do good for all stakeholders’ attitude. That’s the company I am building this time around. I am working on a problem that is technically interesting and has a viable market. Still, more than anything else, I am creating a company where all people can come together and find a safe space for expressing their creativity and know that they’d be taken care of when they need it. A workplace that won’t discriminate them for wanting children, or for transitioning. Or for choosing to love someone of the same sex.

These are not new ideas, and this won’t be the first company to do so. However, when I came out as transgender in 2016, I found the lack of transgender role models in tech disheartening. They exist but they are few and far in between — especially at the founding level. In my limited research, I could not find any examples of venture funding flowing into tech startups founded by transgender folks. Venture capital barely makes it to businesses founded by women, so this isn’t surprising at all. I believe that representation matters and research shows that the simple act of being visible as a transgender person helps. According to HRC, 66% of the likely voters who know a transgender person expressed support for equality. We need to have more transgender founders in the startup world, just like we need more transgender people in every walk of life. The next generation of kids should grow up knowing that being transgender doesn’t change much in terms of who you want to grow up to be.

Being a transgender founder won’t automatically create the right company culture. Building the right workplace culture and a great company is very hard, after all. It won’t ensure that I make no mistakes. It just means that I am very invested in creating an inclusive workspace. It’s the proverbial ‘scratch your own itch’ mantra that is so popular in the tech world!

I hope you join me on this journey. Thank you for reading!