Hello, my name is Alissa Knight, and I’m Transgendered

That photo on the left of the dude in a black trench coat is actually me. That was the last photo I took before I died in 2008.

No, I didn’t literally die, I mean before my transition and my former life ended.

For all of you transgendered people out there, especially children who think your life is over because you’re Transgendered or adults who think it’s too late to transition, this post is for you.

You’re probably wondering why I’m coming out. Because it’s time. I want to be an example for other Transgendered people out there that professional success is possible, despite being Transgendered. Suicide is such a horrible waste of such a beautiful life.

According to surveys, 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.


Okay, so you’re Transgendered. But that doesn’t have to mean your life is over. If I said I somehow thought early on in my transition that I should just go ahead and end my life and throw in my cards because they were stacked against me would be a lie. The truth is, I didn’t believe that. I knew that I would run into people in my career that simply didn’t understand and that lack of an understanding would push them out of my life but I didn’t care. I’ve always been a star-struck dreamer that believed I could change my stars. That my life, despite how many people didn’t approve of it, was for me to live and only I could limit how far I could go.

Take for instance the capital investment consultant I retained at my former start-up to help me raise capital. I eventually exited in a successful M&A by my side. But as soon as photos of me dressed like a woman started to circulate, all of a sudden he didn’t know me. Yeah, that sucked and it ate at me for the longest time. Supposedly this person was my friend and I did make him money in that transaction. But all of a sudden, because of my gender identity, he wanted nothing to do with me. His loss right? At least that’s what I tell myself.

The fact is, transitioning is tough. It is. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s going to be easy and everyone you encounter, especially early on in your transition when the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) hasn’t really worked its magic yet and you aren’t that “passable.” I’ve been in several interviews where the CEO of a now large publicly traded company couldn’t even look at me in the eyes during the interview. He stared at his cell phone or out the window the whole time and he was supposedly the last stop after a line of people gave their thumbs up to hire me. Ask me if I ever got a call back after that. Not that I would want to work for someone like that anyways — but you get the point.

I even recount a time when some nutcase (on LinkedIn believe it or not) went on a mudslinging rampage and posted in numerous LinkedIn groups that Brier & Thorn (my firm now), had scammed the SBA into thinking it was a woman-owned company because I wasn’t biologically female. Ignorance.

So what am I saying? I don’t know really. I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re Transgendered and you think that the adult entertainment industry is the only hope of any career or if you think prostitution is the only way you’ll be able to pay for your transition, look at me. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my first company when I was 17, sold it to a public company when I was 20. Started my second successful start-up when I was 24 and sold it to a public company when I was 27. I’m now on my third-successful startup at Brier & Thorn. We have clients in 71 countries, subsidiaries in the United States, Mexico, and Europe, and clients and employees who believe in what we believe. I’m a leader of leaders and I follow them. But I’m also Transgendered.

Look at all of the other countless Transgendered men and women out there who’ve made it. Let us be your beacon of hope for why you should put down that knife, get off that ledge, or get out of the road. Don’t end such a precious, beautiful life. You have so much ahead of you. And yes, there will be people in your life that don’t approve of you. But don’t let that be the reason you don’t live it.

I’ll close this post with my favorite quote from Walt Whitman “Keep your head towards the sun and shadows will always fall behind you.”


Alissa Knight is the Group Managing Partner of Brier & Thorn, Inc. and Senior Partner of its global subsidiaries in international markets in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Alissa has a passion for helping clients secure their most valuable assets; the ideas they bring to market that change the ways in which we work, live, and play. A proven leader with deep domain knowledge in developing strong client relationships, she builds outstanding global teams and partnerships, bringing a disciplined focus to operations and execution. Alissa leads the delivery of IT risk management services to the global marketplace; creating the service roadmap for Brier & Thorn's portfolio of IT risk management projects and managed security services delivered from its global network of Security Operations Centers.

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