Lynn Cyrin, Web Developer
You have an amazing backstory – going from studying engineering in college to being temporarily homeless to founding your own venture. How do you want to introduce yourself to the POCiT audience?
I’m a black trans woman (with all the struggles that generally invites) and a successful web developer, project manager, and activist.
In 2014, you started a queer trans collective called CollectQT. What was the inspiration behind it?
The inspiration was two-fold. First was the incredible community support I experienced after moving to San Francisco. I had never felt so connected to community and identity before in my life, and after experiencing that I knew I wanted to contribute to it in some way. Second is the fact that trans women have a very high percentage of hammer and sickle tattoos per capita. I don’t actually know why this is, but practically it creates community support for creating collectives, nonprofits, and other sorts of non-standard organizations.
What are some of the best things that have come out of creating CollectQT?
I think the best contribution so far has been its existence – how its existence contributes to the culture of empowering marginalized people through activism. I have a similar opinion of Trans*H4ck, that I get the most value out of the idea that someone made a successful organization out of the combination of those two concepts (i.e. trans + hacker).
Also, I am working on a few websites through CollectQT (Quirell, TheBlockBot) that will have great practical impact when they are completed!
Was there a moment in your life that you thought “I’ve made it”? If not, what’s been your favorite project or career highlight so far?
It’s a progressive realization, but the biggest and most recent bump was getting hired to work on Bundler and RubyGems. Working on such a widely used tool created an intense sense of validation for me – even if a given company chooses not to hire me for a Ruby job, I am already essentially working on their infrastructure. I can finally really see how I fit within the broader tech ecosystem, and I like to think that I fit fairly well.
What do you mean by “broader tech ecosystem”? Are you purposely pursuing work outside of it?
By broader tech ecosystem, I mean the general group of people and companies who work in/around tech. I, as an individual, pursue work wherever work is amenable to my existence. Whether or not that place is outside of the broader tech ecosystem is decided by how oppression informs social dynamics, rather than because of specific efforts on my part.
Ah, yeah, it’s one thing for tech to say that it wants diversity/inclusion and another to follow through by actually hiring, retaining, and supporting underrepresented employees. Have you found interactions in the tech world to be different online versus in the “real world”/physical space?
Online interactions have more reach than physical space, which allows (among other things) for marginalized people to create support groups that they would not have been able to create otherwise.
Lastly, how can people get involved and support you or your work?
The best option for most people is to follow me on Twitter and be engaged with the things I talk about / work on. In general, I feel like I need more voices contributing to my ideas – more hands helping shape my projects. I also have a very infrequently updated Patreon for people whose assistance is more geared towards consuming the work that I produce.
Written By – Elea Chan founder of affectconf.com