October 29, By Michael Florio
A historic new worker cooperative aims to empower transgender Latina residents through training in professional beauty services, and may even bring a transgender-run salon to Jackson Heights.
A Go Fund Me page launched earlier this month to support the Trans-Latina Worker Cooperative, a worker-owned cooperative business that will provide professional beauty services throughout New York City.
On the Go Fund Me page, Jennifer de la Cruz writes that she launched the campaign to fight for equal rights after years of enduring discrimination and unemployment.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender workers are twice as likely as the general population to be unemployed and nearly four times more likely to have an income of under $10,000.
Currently there are 11 members in this cooperative, with eight enrolled in beauty school and three that have already received their license, according to Jesus Daniel Puerto of Make the Road New York, which worked with de la Cruz to start this cooperative.
Money raised through the Go Fund Me will be used to meet the cost of cosmetology training. Depending on how much is raised, funds will also go towards creating beauty businesses.
The organization is considering a variety of business options, including a mobile business, renting chairs in existing salons or opening a salon run by the cooperative members, Puerto said.
As of now, a target location for a new salon has not been identified, but Puerto noted the members’ ties to Jackson Heights in particular.
“The members are all from Queens, in and around Jackson Heights, so they are deeply connected to this community,” he said.
“Regardless of location, the cooperative hopes to provide professional beauty services to New Yorkers across the city,” he added.
Leslie Ramos, Executive Director of the 82nd Street Partnership, believes this shop would be a welcome addition to this neighborhood and wants to help the Trans-Latina Worker Cooperative bring a shop to Jackson Heights.
“I will do everything possible to help them find a location within our Business Improvement District,” she said.
Ramos said she wants to help the cooperative members find a location that is visible and away from other beauty salons. She said it is difficult to name a specific location as a potential salon would likely be a year, or longer, away from opening.
Ramos believes the shop would be accepted in an inclusive neighborhood like Jackson Heights.
“Jackson Heights has one of the biggest LGBT communities in the city and maybe the country,” she said. “It will be well supported.”
The Go Fund Me campaign has received 75 donations in 26 days, raising more than $4,000 of their $50,000 goal. It is expected to run into early 2016, according to Puerto.
“We want supporters from all angles to read and donate to this cause and we believe it will spark the interest of many people,” he said.
Those interested in the Go Fund Me campaign can click here.