Pride 2020 & Beyond: The Journey of a Female Transgender Software Engineer

2020 has been quite the year so far. From the recent black lives matter protests to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, which has put quite a damper on the yearly pride parades in city streets around the world. We wanted to look inside of the up-and-coming beauty tech startup, Mira, the world’s largest catalogue of skincare & cosmetics products, ratings & reviews covering thousands of beauty brands, and gather some feedback from their team about their take on Pride in 2020 and the future of it.

Below is an enlightening, must-read Q&A with Jess, Mira’s first senior female engineer.

Tell us more about yourself?
My name is Jess and I’m a software engineer here at Mira. I was one of the first developers to join the team, and their first senior female engineer. I am a transgender woman, who has been transitioning for just under 3 years. I am passionate about both data and beauty and feel lucky I have found a place where I can live up these two passions at the same time. I believe in the transformative and empowering power of makeup, because it’s brought me the confidence boost that I needed.

Do you think virtual Pride parades are here to stay post COVID-19?
I hope so. A large part of Pride is to be visible, be seen, to get out there, and let people know that we members of the LGBTIQ+ community exist, matter, and are here to stay. Some of us still can’t get out of our towns to go celebrate in person, and with COVID19, virtual events are an opportunity to provide greater access to educational and allyship resources to all. I am confident virtual pride events will find their purpose, separate from physical parades and celebrations which are as important to the community.

How much do you think Pride events will grow to 2021 worldwide?
It will grow every year, especially as more and more allies become aware of the importance of LGBTIQ+ rights. Until we are all recognized as equals under the eyes of the law, we can expect more people to come out in support of the community. While acceptance grows for some, we are still facing major challenges in the United States. The overall homicide and suicide rates of transgender Americans is higher than that of cisgender individuals. Three in ten young trans people attempt suicide in the country, and the average lifespan of a Black transwoman in America is about 40 years old. Violence against trans individuals is increasing, and it’s not helping that trans rights are under perpetual attack by the Trump administration. This is what the world needs an LGBTIQ+ Pride Month for, more than ever.

Tips for beauty brands to engage customers during Pride?
As a transwoman, one of the biggest hurdles I encountered was having little experience or education in applying makeup and beauty products; I had never been taught at an early age, unlike most women. More education, acknowledgment and accessibility would massively improve the experience of trans and gender non-conforming people in navigating various beauty products. A good example is beauty classes and tutorial sessions with makeup artists. There is no need for custom trans makeup – I am a woman, like any other woman. The only difference is that I didn’t have access to beauty education until I became my true self in and out. So, I have a heck of a lot to learn! We here at Mira are achieving this by improving access to information on all things beauty, regardless of how you self-identify. And we offer the most supportive and inclusive community.

Tips for business to engage and encourage employees to support Pride?
Raise your voice. Or seize opportunities to have one. Some formal diversity and inclusion training is absolutely necessary, and NOT just because it’s Pride Month. We are all different, we all respond to things differently, and it’s important to acknowledge that. Pride isn’t just the time to show off your rainbow logo, it’s not just a time to show your values externally. It’s a time to show your values internally, including normalising name tags / pronoun pins for everyone, not just those who request them, and protecting LGBTIQA+ people from being “outed” or exposed. Coming out is a personal experience and process, and to each their own time.

Any Pride makeup tips for virtual event participants?
Be creative, be fearless, be you. Wear your colors proudly. I personally love seeing pride flags and colors around the eyes, particularly on the eyelid, crease, and brow. I would do this, but unfortunately me trying to do any makeup around the eyes scares me because I’m so terrible at it! Need more practice, practice, practice!

How can a novice support Pride online this year and next?
Pride is for everyone: every marginalized group – and there are quite a lot! Join in, positively support and talk about it within and outside their social group and donate to affiliated charities. I have seen first-hand the kind of work these charities (namely the San Francisco LGBT Center) do for the community, and it is nothing short of incredible. skincare product tips can impact so many lives.

Thoughts on the Pride movement the past few years?
I hope 2020 Pride will be remembered for the Black trans community. And I hope it will stay that way: Pride is about giving visibility to those who need it most, which hasn’t always been the case in recent years. I think much of Pride has become too corporate and too much about partying and sponsorships, rather than being seen and heard. While it is a step forward that companies are willing to advertise to us and with us in the LGBTIQA+ community, where even a decade ago this would be seen as financial suicide, it’s still little more than tokenism in many cases and does not really give anything back to the community. Much of the advertising ignores smaller parts of the community, in favor of more “accepted” segments. This needs to change.

What do you think Pride parades will look like in 5 years from now?
More inclusivity. Much larger crowds and more allies I would hope too. As misinformation about the transgender and non-binary community continues to clear up, I would expect to see a greater proportion of those groups represented within Pride. It’s actually what the LGBTQIA+ community is expecting from brands: Be part of leading the charge on true inclusivity, just not the politically correct one.

Cheers to Jess for providing such a great take on the pride movement and helpful feedback for other transgender professionals too. Although Pride is very different this year, it will be celebrated with much love virtually around the world. So, if you’re looking for some ideas for your virtual pride parade with friends, family, and supporters everywhere, Mira has provided an amazing list of pride makeup looks for 2020 to consider using for your upcoming virtual Pride Parade this year.

aglon

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