Bettering the Lives of Black Transgender Women

Question of the Week

Bettering the Lives of Black Transgender Women

Happy Friday, all!

I hope you had a good week. Today I have another don’t-miss MDB episode. I chat with Elle Moxley, the executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. The institute seeks to better the lives of Black transgender people through organizing, advocacy, and community. Elle founded the nonprofit institute in response to the murders of transgender women of color.

In the episode, Elle shares how the Marsha P. Johnson Institute resulted from her vision for her own life and the wider world. She also discusses the racial tensions following the murder of George Floyd and how she combats exhaustion by pursuing joy daily.


Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses support the collective.

Elle defines a mission-driven business as one with the intention of more than just making money. It’s also a company that supports a collective rather than just an individual.

“It is one that is driven towards supporting people with the same rigor and regard as its enterprise endeavors,” Elle said. “Mission-driven businesses really account for the full experience that people are having.”

At the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, that mission is to illuminate the root cause of violence against transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The mission strongly aligns with Elle’s values.

“I really wanted to do my part, not only as a Black trans woman but as a Black person in the world, to interpret the reasons why murder takes place in communities that are already so intensely interrogated,” she said.


Use your vision to guide your business.

Like many entrepreneurs on the podcast, Elle didn’t set out to start a company, nor did she know whether she had the skills and leadership qualities for her current role. But Elle did have a big vision for her life and the world — a vision that others didn’t always share.

Founding the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and her other ventures helped Elle realize that vision. It also helped her to become the best version of herself that she could be.

“The only way I could do that was to start my own businesses and to actually be the person behind the vehicle in which my dreams were presented to the world,” Elle said.


Combat exhaustion by cultivating joy.

Elle’s work can be emotionally exhausting, especially as murderers continue to target Black transgender women and some people attempt to minimize the impact of her work. However, Elle looks for joy to keep motivated, which she defines as the opposite of constant frustration and fear.

“The joy is something that I never really get exhausted from,” she said. “That’s the real work I aspire to do daily: How can I create more joy for myself and the people that I love?”


Quote of the Week

“That’s the real work I aspire to do daily: How can I create more joy for myself and the people that I love?”– Elle Moxley


Task of the Week

If you haven’t listened yet, make sure to check out this episode. And you can find out more about Elle and her mission-driven businesses at the links below.