Being an advocate involves speaking up for those who can’t, challenging injustice, and working tirelessly to advance the rights, well-being, and interests of others. Advocates come from diverse backgrounds and fields, all united by their commitment to making the world better when others try and stand in their way.
Simply put, being an advocate takes guts.
This October, StartOut will present the 2023 Advocate Award to Fran Dunaway (she/her) and Naomi Gonzalez (she/her).
Fran and Naomi are the co-founders of TomboyX, a Seattle-based gender-neutral underwear and apparel brand launched in 2013. The brand started as a passion project to create the perfect button-up shirt before pivoting to focus on underwear based on the overwhelming demand for their first boxer brief for women.
“Fran and Naomi have made a real difference in the lives of queer people,” said CEO Brian Richardson. “They saw an industry that was limited, so they changed it. They created TomboyX, and today queer people can find clothes and underwear made with us in mind, helping us all feel more confident, affirmed and whole.”
Fran and Naomi are driven by a belief that brands can be a force for positive change, and their messaging promotes a human agenda to inspire conversations about gender, confidence, acceptance, and inclusion.
In 2021, TomboyX solidified the brand’s commitment to sustainability and community by becoming B Corp certified and completed the process for changing their corporate status from C Corp to Benefit Corp. TomboyX was one of EY’s Winning Women in 2017, was on Inc 5000 Fastest growing businesses list for 4 consecutive years and in 2019, Fran was named as one of Forbes’ 50 over 50. The duo still maintains partial ownership in the company but have a C suite running the day-to-day business in their stead.