This past weekend, Design Action sent one of our team to Trans*H4CK, the first-ever hackathon focused on bringing together trans* and gender non-conforming tech workers to create projects that advance social justice for the trans*/GNC community.
A bit of background: a hackathon is an event—often a (friendly) competition—where a group of people come together for a short duration of time and use coding, programming, and design to create technology around a central theme. Trans*H4CK is the project of Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, a local transgender advocate, and was created to address the significant challenges facing trans* people, especially access to healthcare, safe housing, and employment. The Trans*H4CK website (transhack.org) succinctly sums up the purpose of this hackathon: “A necessary step in addressing anti-transgender bias is to create technology that socially empowers transgender individuals.”
Design Action was represented at Trans*H4CK by Ria, our newest member. About forty people participated in the hackathon, divided into several competing teams. Ria’s team chose to create a resource where trans*/GNC individuals could enter their zip code and find local trans-friendly resources within a variety of categories.
This project—which became Trans*Resource US over the weekend—worked as a responsive website, fully optimized for both desktop viewing and mobile browsing. The team had a strong commitment to accessibility, and early on chose to not only make sure the site was usable on a range of devices (including screen readers for the visually impaired), but could also be used by people without access to computers or smartphones. Thus, the project also incorporates an SMS based service, TranSMS, where people can send a text message with their zip code to 617-433-TRNS (8767) to receive local resources.
A number of inspiring projects came from the other teams, including a clothing exchange service between transmasculine and transfeminine individuals, a legal resource guide for healthcare access, and a micro-survey platform called Dottify.me. However, after a nerve-wracking wait while the judging panel deliberated, it was announced: Trans*Resource US is the winner of the first trans* hackathon!
While the team still has significant work to do to meet the goals of the website, a functioning alpha version is available at www.transresource.us.