The TJ Way provides information and advice for the journey towards success, while also helping you make the best first impression, every time.

The TJ Way is about success, with style.

I’m TJ, a 31 year olDSC_0076d Black lesbian professional. This blog is dedicated to helping folks like me achieve their success and style goals.

I have been practicing law for seven years now and recently started a Ph.D in Sociology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago in August. My research interests include the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender identity for Black women professionals. I am also generally interested in violence perpetrated against Black women and girls, including examining issues of criminality and equal access to employment.

Career
Immediately prior to starting my doctorate program, I served as a judicial law clerk in the federal district court in Chicago. In addition to working in the federal judiciary, I have also worked in the judiciary as a law clerk and staff attorney in Illinois trial and appellate courts, and have also worked in academia as a research assistant to two law professors. I started practicing as an Associate at a large Midwest law firm within the Labor and Employment and Tort and Insurance practice groups. These experiences allow me to think critically about issues facing Black and LGBTQ communities, particularly for those of us existing at the furthest margins as queer people of color and to use my analytical and writing skills as tools to advocate on behalf of these marginalized communities.

Publications and Presentations
I have researched, published, and presented across the country on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, including employment discrimination, gender identity and nonconformity, and intersectionality, specifically as it relates to being an LGBT attorney of color.  I also worked with the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to develop and implement its How to be an Ally Toolkit, which allowed me to assist SOGI in establishing best practices for recognizing and accepting intersecting identities in the workplace and the legal profession. I also presented a Butch-Dress-For-Success Workshop for the 2015 Lavender Law conference hosted by the National LGBT Bar Association.

Community
Immediately prior to working with SOGI, I also served as Treasurer of the Board for Affinity Community Services (Affinity), a non-profit social justice organization that works with and on behalf of the Black LGBTQ community.  In addition to helping ensure the financial stability and success of the organization, I used my research, writing, and analytical skills to assist with Affinity’s marriage equality and immigration equality work.  For marriage equality, I researched what marriage equality means for the black LGBTQ community and wrote a policy statement and press release for the organization.  I also served on the advisory council for Affinity’s Building Bridges Immigration Initiative, for which I have facilitated community discussions on proposed immigration reform and how the proposals impact African immigrants and same-sex couples. Additionally, I wrote a policy paper for Affinity that also analyzes how current immigration policy and proposed immigration reform impact same-sex binational couples of color.

I bring my full self, all of my intersecting identities, to the table in my career. One of the ways that I do this is by being unapologetic in my gender presentation, which manifests in my style choices. The style portion is also a tool of visibility, encouraging the young queer Black person to walk in their truth. For me, success and style are inextricably intertwined.

Why am I blogging?

The TJ Way provides information and advice for the young LGBTQ professional on their success and style journey because:

(1) Knowing your style is a product of knowing who you are and what makes you feel safe and comfortable in your own skin. When you feel safe, comfortable, and confident with who you are, you maneuver with greater ease in your career.

(2) Your success and style is personal. It is also political, particularly if you operate at the intersections of multiple identities that have been socially stigmatized and marginalized.

(3) You cannot know who you want to be if you don’t first know who you are. I want to urge readers to equip themselves to engage in the process of knowing who you are, accepting and loving that person, and to provide you with the tools to become the successful person that you envision yourself to be.

The blog is called “The TJ Way” because I speak from my perspective, use my experiences, and my research to provide information to my readers. I am showing you my way so that you may find your own.

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The TJ Way – Success, with Style.