The brilliant smile and warm demeanour do little to hide a fierce intelligence lurking just beneath the surface. Angelica Ross is not only a modern-day pioneer but can be regarded as an advocate for several movements currently making headlines around the globe.
Whether you’re interested in #BlackLivesMatter, #LGBTQequality, #GenderEquality, or African tech pioneers of the female persuasion, one thing is certain – Ross has fingers in all these pies.
Angelica Ross: A Child of Many Worlds
Born in the 1980s, Ross has seen and experienced both the “old” world and new, just enough to realize that biases carried over and change was slow in the making. As a child of the 80s and 90s, Ross found herself bullied for being different – a common experience for many of us who have always felt like outsiders. After opening herself up as transgender, Ross was disowned by her parents. Homeless and alone, she entered the Navy, where she found herself discriminated against. Ross was discharged under the Navy’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule.
Not one to dawdle over negative experiences, she relocated to Florida, and taught herself to code while taking acting classes. Ross’s life thus far had prepared her to don several hats, including that of businesswoman, actress and transgender rights advocate.
Many of us with access to social media noticed the mostly overwhelming support Caitlynn Jenner’s Vanity Fair article received in 2015. While Jenner has been regarded as the world’s most famous transgender shining the spotlight on an important issue, it can be said that Ross’ view of transgender equality is not merely about equal rights but what happens after you’ve made the decision to fully immerse yourself in your true identity.
The Battle to “fit in” fueled Angelica Ross
Soon after her transition in 2000, Angelica Ross noticed a huge discrepancy in transgender employment opportunities. The battle to “fit in” extended to numerous spheres, including the social and professional scene. Ross knew she was staring at an uphill climb – transpeople are treated differently by the majority, so how do you interact with society? How do you apply for a job when discriminatory practices are not only alive but thriving? How do you live your best life if you’re constantly facing prejudice for merely existing?
The tech field is normally shrouded in a “men’s club” only vibe, something Ross is breaking down one brick at a time. For her, Transtech is the start of something we haven’t seen. The foundation is less about gathering donations and more set on training the trans community to explore their potential in a safe space.
The email from MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” congratulating on Ross being the first “Soldier “was a welcome one, a sign that perhaps others were finally open to understanding the fragile and ongoing battle the trans community faces everyday: trying to live openly in a world that hasn’t exactly accepted or respected you.
The hats she proudly waves have shifted over the years, from one of pure survival to advocating publicly and proudly for equality.
You look back and think, “How did I survive?” And it’s always because you just do. I feel I’m still sort of grappling with things, but I know that all of these experiences are for a reason; they were to condition me for a certain level of leadership. It’s almost like in the time of Donald Trump—or you think about the Holocaust or slavery—it’s fertile ground for a certain type of leadership. We’re in an extreme time right now. I know I’m being prepared to take responsibility and that the world is ready for me. It’s taken me a long time to be able to talk about myself like this and talk about these things this way.Angelica Ross
We hear you Angelica!