Tips From The Staff/Board

Supporting the LGBT+ Community

WBEC-East strives to foster and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and equitable ecosystem by living and working intentionally year-round. We believe diversity promotes innovation, opens doors, and creates partnerships that fuel not only the economy but personal growth as well.

WBEC-East is an inclusive and supportive organization, encouraging and welcoming all women (cis, trans, and gender-nonconforming alike) of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and creeds to engage with and benefit from our resources and events. While we are a women-focused organization, our services and programs are open to all entrepreneurs and supplier diversity professionals.

Here are some of the answers to questions we commonly get from members of the LGBT+ community.

Am I welcome at your events even though I’m not a woman or femme-presenting?

Yes! Business owners and their employees of all gender expressions and identities are welcome at and attend our events. We strive to create safe and inclusive spaces for all who wish to attend our events, in person or virtual.

As a transwoman, can I get WBE certified as a woman-owned business?

Certified WBEs must be 51% owned and managed by a woman (or women) who is a US citizen or permanent resident. We understand that there are still many barriers in this country for those seeking gender-affirming identification, so we will accept any government-issued document as proof of gender, whether that’s a reissued birth certificate, passport, or drivers license from any state.

Requirements for proof of gender vary between states. For the states with the region served by WBEC-East, (the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of Delaware, and Southern New Jersey):

–Delaware requires an affidavit from a medical or mental health professional stating that the applicant has had surgical, hormonal, psychological, or other treatment appropriate for the individual for the purpose of gender transition for both their driver license/state identification card gender marker updates and their birth certificate reissues.

–Pennsylvania requires a letter from a physician stating that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in order to reissue birth certificates, but the application for gender marker change on a driver’s license/state identification card is self-filled with the attestation that it is for the purpose of gender identity and not for any fraudulent purposes. 

–New Jersey does not require proof of medical transition for either birth certificate or drivers license/state identification card gender marker changes. 

For a full list of state-specific document requirements for name and gender marker changes, please see the National Center for Transgender Equality’s ID Documents Center.

What if I do not have a gender-affirming legal ID for certification?

We know that WBENC certification can be an important tool to gaining access to corporations and government agencies. Did you know there are a few different ways to become certified in order to participate in supplier diversity programs, including becoming LGBT-certified? When a corporation sets goals to work with diverse businesses, these programs are often open to businesses that hold any diversity certificate, whether that’s women-owned, LGBT-owned, minority-owned, disability-owned, or veteran-owned. Please follow the links for the certification process that best represents you!

Are there any other resources you recommend to support me as an LGBT+ business owner?

Yes! The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the business voice of the LGBT community, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people, and the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses. We are a proud partner of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and recommend that any LGBT+ business owner joins their network, whether or not you are WBENC certified as well.

Where WBEC-East is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA we have the Independent Business Alliance, our own citywide chapter of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 

The National Center for Transgender Equality is a great resource for anyone with questions regarding transgender identity, including basic introductory guidelines, legal rights and protections, and their ID Documents Center which outlines each state’s requirement for name and gender marker changes. 

At WBEC-East, you are welcome, not just this month, but all year long.

We see you, celebrate you, and support you.

What if I don’t identify as LGBT+? What can I do to support the LGBT+ community? 

There is so much you can do to support the LGBT+ community, including educate yourself on LGBT+ terms and identities and get comfortable talking about sexual orientation and gender identity in a respectful manner. You can support LGBT+ businesses and learn about “rainbow-washing” and why it should be avoided. And you can show up to events with intention and care for those who need it. 

Looking to do more to foster your knowledge and understanding? Check out additional resources from NGLCC and WBENCPride.  

Notice something missing? Submit your suggestions to the WBENC Pride Resource Library