March 01, 2023 11:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time
PROUDER TOGETHER is Tapestry’s Employee Resource Group for LGBTQIA+ employees and allies. The mission of the group is to celebrate LGBTQIA+ employees and allies at Tapestry by building an inclusive community across all brands; encouraging, supporting, and mentoring others at work; connecting our identity with brand products that speak to us; and supporting our local communities through philanthropic volunteering.
In the most recent issue of LOUDLY, Prouder Together’s newsletter for Tapestry employees, Jesse DeBusk (he/they), Coach Store Manager, caught up with the lead supervisor and social media influencer for Coach, located in Portland, Oregon, Curtlynn Gonzalez (she/her). Together, Jesse and Curtlynn discussed everything from their favorite things about Tapestry, Zero Discrimination, and Trans Visibility Day, and took a deep dive into Curtlynn’s life as a drag performer. Safe to say, Curtlynn is a fantastic representative of the brand and a phenomenal advocate for people of trans experience.
Learn more about life at Tapestry here: https://www.tapestry.com/responsibility/our-people/
What’s your story?
“I was born in Los Angeles, the youngest of 10 children. Growing up I wanted to be on Broadway for as long as I can remember. I was always an eccentric kid, randomly dancing and being the loudest in the room. When I turned 14 I decided to come out to my parents and was kicked out of my home. With some help from my sibling, I made it up to Portland where I was placed in Foster Care as my parents made it clear to me and to the courts that they did not want an LGBTQIA+ child. Being in multiple different foster homes and putting myself through high school wasn’t easy but made my journey oh so rewarding. I am now 26 years old and am so proud of the obstacles I’ve overcome, and am so grateful to be living in my truth and getting to share my story.”
What’s your favorite part about your city/ community?
“I am very fortunate to live in a city where diversity is celebrated and encouraged. And while Portland has its fair share of issues, it has always been a city with an openness to new ideas and a safe place for LGBQIA+ people.”
What have been the most joyful parts of your transition journey for you?
“Living in my truth unabashedly has been so healing to me because like any endeavor, you don’t truly know what it’s like until you’re there, all you show up with is excitement, expectations, and often fear. For me, one of the most joyful parts of my transition journey has been seeing what truly loving myself has done to my smile. I used to not show many teeth when cracking a smile and now I can’t help but smile wide from ear to ear. Seeing my fears be answered with love and support has been incredible.”
What were/are the challenges you faced as you began your transition?
“When I began my transition, EVERYTHING felt like a challenge, but like all challenges, they come with a sense of excitement and reward when overcome. Some of the challenges I faced were people misgendering me and people struggling to remember/use my new Chosen name, subsequently using my DEADNAME. For those that do not know, a dead name is the birth name of someone who has opted to change their name as part of THEIR gender transition. In many cases, this name stays their legal name, but it no longer resonates or feels comfortable to them.”
What are some of the things that allies and those within the LGBTQIA+ Community could do to better support transgender employees at work?
“When a child says they’re in pain, we don’t question whether they’re telling the truth, we simply believe them and help how we can. Similarly, Transgender people are among some of the most vulnerable within our community, so it is that much more important to listen to us when we’re asking for help. We often don’t get the same support outside of our regular support systems. Show up for us and play your part in creating a space where ALL feel welcome and all feel supported.”
Who is your biggest role model?
“My biggest role model is my Drag Mom, Sheniqua Volt. She is a BIPOC Transgender woman who has been doing drag for over 20 years. She taught me to walk tall and confident and to be proud of what I bring to the table as the woman that I am.”
What are some of the microaggressions transgender people face in the workplace?
A lot of the microaggressions transgender people face at work often revolve around our appearance and our bodies. Transgender people, even transgender women are not monolithic. Not everyone is going to vie for the same transition journey. Some may choose to medically transition, and some don’t, for myriad reasons from personal choice to lacking financial access.
What makes you proud to be a part of Tapestry?
“The thing that makes me the proudest of working for Tapestry is getting to have the confidence to show up to work every day and never having to worry about what my company or my direct coworkers think of me as a Person of Trans Experience. When I started here I remember I was given a pin that said “Open To All” and that truth could not have been more accurate. Getting to show up as my authentic self every day had a huge impact not just on me but within our community. Getting to host a Pride happy hour last year and seeing the impact and exposure we had was iconic. I have had the privilege since coming out to meet many members of the LGBTQIA+ within our store many of which are in awe at seeing a woman like me at work just living my best life. That’s the greatest gift of all.”
A big thank you to Curtlynn for her willingness to educate and share her story! To keep up with Curtlynn, follow her on Instagram.