In 2015, Gabrielle Claiborne and Linda Herzer created a company devoted solely to training employees about transgender inclusion in the workplace.
Only three years later, Transformation Journeys Worldwide has announced their official partnership with The Kaleidoscope Group, a diversity and inclusion firm recognized as one of the top 10 pioneers in their industry. Kaleidoscope works to cover a broad range of issues from race to gender to learning or management styles. Transformation Journeys’ partnership will now add trans inclusion to those offerings.
Claiborne and Herzer met in 2012 through the City of Light Atlanta church, where Herzer served as a minister. Claiborne had recently come out as trans, and she invited Herzer to the trans support group that she led.
Herzer, a cisgender woman, became more and more active in trans issues. She eventually authored a book titled “The Bible and the Transgender Experience: How Scripture Supports Gender Variance.” The two women struck up a friendship which turned into a working relationship. Claiborne sold her cleaning business and Herzer left the congregation, and the two formed Transformation Journeys Worldwide to further educate others. They now work full-time in diversity training.
Transformation Journeys works with all organizations including corporations, religious institutions and both medical and mental health practices. Their goal is to provide tools to help others interact respectfully, and to integrate trans individuals successfully into their organizations. Now, more than ever, such services are becoming essential to any modern company.
Herzer points to GLAAD’s third annual “Accelerating Acceptance” report, which found that 12 percent of millennials identified as transgender or gender non-conforming. This, coupled with the fact that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workplace, makes a powerful statement.
“That’s what we really try to help companies understand,” said Herzer. “You [the companies] may not have seen much gender diversity in your workplace to this point, but you are about to.”
Claiborne has seen the way awareness has become heightened around trans issues, but also how many organizations don’t know how to start the conversation. Thus, more people continue reaching out to Transformation Journeys Worldwide to help lead them and their employees in the right direction.
“We recommend to our clients that the time to buy a fire extinguisher is not when you have a fire, but before you need it. They need to be proactive in developing trans-inclusive policies. The question becomes not if, but when you’re going to need them,” said Claiborne.
Combination of trans, cis perspectives leads to success
Transformation Journeys Worldwide addresses subjects beyond restrooms or company guidelines. Claiborne and Herzer cover a wide variety of operations in the workplace such as health benefits or health care programs, training on recruiting trans individuals and even looking at diversity in suppliers. They start by helping others to recognize our cultural assumptions. By meeting clients where they are, Claiborne and Herzer can build a rapport.
“Then you can say, ‘Well, did you know that there are actually 12 countries in the world today that don’t operate by the gender binary. In fact, they allow their citizens a third gender option because they recognize that there are intersex or non-binary people,’” said Herzer.
Both credit their success in part to the impact of Claiborne’s personal story, as well as the combination of both trans and cis perspectives. Herzer’s presence has encouraged other cisgender individuals in attendance who may be entirely new to the subject of trans issues. The strategy has worked for a whole variety of audiences.
“It kind of gives them an invitation, if you will.” said Claiborne. “It’s an invitation to say, ‘You know, I can embrace this just like Linda [Herzer] embraced this because she started at ground zero as well.”
Claiborne talked about how rewarding it is to discover when their work has made a real, quantifiable change. She spoke at a conference in Washington, D.C. on strategies for incorporating the trans community into lesbian and gay organization, and later had an opportunity to visit that organization’s board in New York, where they shared that they had implemented her advice to real results.
“It made my heart feel so good,” said Claiborne. “You know, this is really not rocket science we’re talking about. It’s just having a respectful dialogue to create a respectful space for acknowledging each other as we are. It’s meaningful to know that you too can do this.”
Transformation Journeys Worldwide will be hosting a webinar alongside Kaleidoscope Group on Feb. 7 to formally introduce the partnership. Claiborne and Herzer will continue to work with clients alone, as well as with clients alongside Kaleidoscope. Transformation Journeys will therefore benefit from Kaleidoscope’s established position.
“They recognize this as an opportunity for them to expand and grow,” Claiborne said. “This way, they can service existing and new clients in a deeper, more meaningful way. We saw this as a win-win.”