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Posted 05/30/2024 in DHR Blog Posts

Featured Member Series: Thriving Transmen of Color: Empowering And Supporting BIPOC Trans Men

Featured Member Series: Thriving Transmen of Color: Empowering And Supporting BIPOC Trans Men

Driven by his own experiences transitioning as a BIPOC trans man, Mel recognized the profound need for a safe, secure, and supportive space within the trans community. TTMOC is his vision realized – a place where BIPOC trans men not only find acceptance but also the resources, support, and connections they need to flourish. Join us as learn more about Mel's inspiring story and explore the ways TTMOC is empowering trans men of color to thrive.

In celebration of Pride Month, Diverse Hampton Roads is thrilled to shine a spotlight on Thriving Transmen of Color (TTMOC), founded by the inspiring Mel Howard for our Feature Member Series. This monthly showcase is our way of celebrating and highlighting the subscribed members of our Diverse Hampton Roads community.

Thriving Transmen of Color

Image of Jinelle Reynolds, Owner of Diverse Hampton Roads Featured member, For the Love of Children Consulting

Business Owner: Mel Howard

Type of Business: Grassroots Nonprofit Organization

Location:  National Organization, Headquarters in Newport News, VA

Website: https://www.thrivingtransmenofcolor.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thrivingtransmenofcolor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/THRIVINGTRANSMENOFCOLOR

What inspired you to start your nonprofit? Share your unique vision or motivation.

When I first started my journey from transitioning from Female to Male I needed support and resources I was happy to find some support but I felt like a token or an oddball so I would look for other Black, Indigenous, People of Color Transmen/ Transmasculine individuals I needed support and a mentor and of course, they were hard to come by. I would volunteer with different nonprofit organizations and no one looked like me. I would give them ideas and ask why we weren't the focus or why no one who resembled me was on their payroll. I was tired of asking questions and I started creating an organization that prioritizes my community. I carried this notebook for years, different notebooks, different thoughts. It wasn't until I completed the Monica Roberts Freedom School that I was able to actually take my thoughts and make them a reality.

How does your cultural background or personal experiences influence your approach as a founder and head of a nonprofit?

I know what it's like to not have a supportive family, to be the black sheep to search for love and think it's not something for me platonically, romantically, or emotionally. In my past I put myself at risk because I needed community and I needed “real” support and guidance. When I found my network and my self love I flourished and before that I lived in survival mode. 

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a diverse nonprofit founder and how did you overcome them?

Funding has been a struggle because the Transgender population is the 1% of the world population. A lot of ally organizations tend to support transwoman organizations there isn't a lot of focus on others who cater to black and brown individuals and aren't run by Transwomen of Color specifically. We do not let funding stop us we work with our members to ask for help if possible and we find the cheapest way to provide resources and we're also ran by volunteers who care about this community who work outside of the organization to put food on their tables. We would love to be able to offer individuals compensation but we know we would not be able to have any funding for the organization because we are so limited in resources. The leadership of Thriving Transmen of Color is Black and Brown Transgender individuals to make sure we are non-bias we are comprised of Transmen, a Transwoman and one gender non-conforming individual of color (black). We all live in different areas and have different experiences but we have all faced colorism, gender oppression, biases in health care, lack of access to medical needs and some sort of discrimination whether it was housing-related, employment-related, or medically related.   

Describe your products or services in a way that showcases your unique perspective or offering.

We offer assistance with community development, name change, gender markers, accessibility assistance for employment, resume writing, financial workshops and empowerment sessions and community building.  

How do you aim to make a positive impact on your community or industry?

Everything I do personally is centered around love and that I make sure as an organization we center it with love as well. 

What are your goals and aspirations for your nonprofit in the coming years?

Our goal is to have a physical safe haven where folks who visit and create small satellite drop-in locations where people could shower with no judgment, get a change of clothes (especially for a job interview), assistance with resumes, mock interviews, access to resources, encouragement and empowerment. The goal is to have this safe haven with computers, a food pantry that a person could come to once a week, a community garden full of produce all year around and access to information to help individuals thrive. 

What advice would you give to aspiring diverse entrepreneurs or nonprofit founders just starting out?

Believe it's possible and work on it until it comes. Do not give up and support your friends when they have dreams and encourage them so they can be successful because then you are their cheerleader and they are yours and when things get tough which I’m sure they will have someone to help pick you up along the way so you're able to keep going.

What message do you want to share with the audience about the significance of diverse small businesses and nonprofits?

There is always going to be a big fish doing it but when you support the small fish they value you more. The shark is the shark because they are seen from every angle that fish no one can see is the one that will remember you when you support their business. Support small businesses and nonprofits. We need your business and support. Big business owners are already rich and they already view you as a number, small business owners we see you as a person.

This June's Featured Member Spotlight has been a powerful story. A true testament to the strength and resilience of Mel Howard.  Huge thanks to Mel Howard, founder of Thriving Transmen of Color, for sharing his story and vision with us.  Please learn more about TTMOC and how you can support its mission. Don't forget to join us next month when we introduce you to another remarkable member of our diverse business and nonprofit community.

Missed out on our previous spotlights? Discover the inspiring stories of more diverse entrepreneurs in the Hampton Roads area! Read their stories by visiting the links below.

1. Alodeuri - From Passion to Purpose: https://www.diversehamptonroads.com/blog/featured-member-series-alodeuri-from-passion-to-purpose.

2. Christine Passo, LLC - From Doubt to Fulfillment: https://www.diversehamptonroads.com/blog/featured-member-series-christine-passo-llc-from-doubt-to-fulfillment.

3. For The Love Of Children - From Conflict to Cooperative Coparenting: https://www.diversehamptonroads.com/blog/featured-member-series-for-the-love-of-children-consulting-from-conflict-to-cooperative-coparenting.

4. A&L Solutions - Building A Financial Legacy https://www.diversehamptonroads.com/blog/featured-member-series-a-l-solutions-building-a-financial-legacy.

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