Joselyn Mendoza, hair tied up in a neat bun, looked completely at ease as she combed a customer’s hair at the Parisien Beauty School in Queens, New York. On a brisk fall day last year, Mendoza was attending a cosmetology lesson. Students took notes and practiced blowing, dyeing, and combing hair on paying customers as a stern teacher looked on.
But for Mendoza, this wasn’t an ordinary class. It was a safe space for her and her colleagues, who are part of the Trans-Latina Workers’ Co-op, an all-transgender co-op in Queens that aims to empower transgender Latinas facing workplace discrimination.
The co-op is collectively owned and managed by four transgender Latinas, including Mendoza. They were enrolled in a yearlong cosmetology program – funded by a GoFundMe campaign– that ended this summer. Armed with their new skills, the co-op is currently looking for organizations to help them get their business off the ground. They hope to start work by next spring.