“I am an avid bicyclist and an excellent mechanic. I am also a male-to-female transsexual. I opened my own bicycle shop on Treasure Island (in SF) because of the prejudice I faced when applying for bike mechanic jobs….I have sacrificed much to be in business for myself. I am an example to all people that transsexual persons are not freaks, but are very capable of being productive in society… we can even be business owners.”
- Tammy Powers, Owner – A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop
#GoFundMe | Donations Needed: A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop Is Cycling to Thrive!
Tammy Powers is a full-time bicycle-healer and all around superhero.
Recognized in her community as a well-liked, respected, resilient, talented fix-it expert for bikes, cars and all things locomotive, Tammy’s given so much to folks in the Bay Area. As she continues to get those kudos and provide that top shelf service, now she’s working on ways to fully monetize her value and bake that into longterm success for her bike rental and repair business, A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop.
As she launches her GoFundMe donation campaign for A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop this month, Tammy set aside some time to chat with us about how she got started, her love for making things work, her expertise in bike service and repairs, and ultimately, her ever-inspirational self-love and respect.
On Resilience and A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop – Q & A with Tammy Powers
Jaye: Tammy, thanks so much for setting aside a few moments to connect with us. What inspired you to open your shop, and what inspired the name A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop in particular…rather than Tammy’s Uber Cool Bike Repairs and Gear, for instance?
Tammy: (Laughs) Well, as I’d said in an earlier interview, the name of my shop is a clever one, because “TransBay” is a popular term in the Bay Area,because of all the commuters who travel back and forth across the Bay Bridge.
TransBay is very familiar for everyone from San Francisco to Oakland. You know, there’s the TransBay Express, so it’s not uncommon to hear that. And hey—I’m a transsexual!. I just did the double enendre so people would go, “Huh…?” and not really get it until they walk into my shop and see that I’m a tranny. (Laughs)
Jaye: I see. So people have responded positively once they get that automatic enlightenment, huh?
Tammy: Yeah. People like that. One person was like, “I didn’t understand the apostrophe in Tran’s, until I walked into the shop.” People give me kudos for showing that we can be business owners and productive people in society. People still…they don’t expect to see a successful transgender person, so it’s always cool once they get it.
Jaye: One enlightenment at a time, then (laughs)!
Well, as for your shop, what types of bikes and gear do you sell primarily? Is it a specialty shop only?
Tammy: I do service any type of bike. Tuneups, repairs. And I’m an authorized Fuji Dealer. I also sell Strida folding bicycles. They’re very convenient and useful—I sell folding bikes with commuters in mind. Actually, I refurbish and sell a full array of used bikes: BMX bikes, low-riders. I have anything in stock that’s common for the best bike shops: chains, sprockets, anything I’d need for instant repairs and help
If a customer has any specialty repairs or parts needed, I can order anything they need from my wholesaler, and get the parts by the next day.
So I have a full fleet of rentals, and Treasure Island is the place in the Bay to come bike around the island and see all the views of the Golden Gate Bridge—it’s great!
Jaye: Yes, so gorgeous. Gotta get back there soon, it’s such a beautiful place.
I understand you’ve connected with some TV producers who want to develop a show around you and your team of mechanics and salespeople there…reality TV. The fact that you primarily hire trans* women and men to work there is so meaningful and important. Do you have a sense that they’ll portray you, your crew and your shop in the right light?
Tammy: Yes—the whole thing about hiring transsexual employees, it was entirely from my own thought process. The producers, they’re very excited about it. Thinking of other “reality shows” like “Duck Dynasty” (and I don’t watch much TV, but they said I need to watch more, because they want me to see the difference between that and TV with more substance)…we want it to be very different.
I mean, I also do standup comedy—so, comedians will come visit me too.
I thought, what would make the show so appealing to the audience they would just have to tune in? So I thought about those ideas, because in my world all my friends are transsexuals. And people visit the shop, and some people, they have a bent view or they’re not too sure…they have questions. I was like, how great would it be to have a staff full of transsexual people, either this way or the other way. (Laughs) So I told all my friends.
Jaye: Good to know you have a lot of creative input with the project.
Tammy: Yeah: the director’s coming back to have lunch with me, and we’ll shoot more video later in the month. It’s been so weird how it’s happened. I met a person who knew a producer…it blows me away. It’s just amazing.
I’m so thankful people notice me and say something positive. Like, someone will see this story and mention it, and someone else will find their way to the bike shop.
Jaye: Have you had much luck recruiting mechanics? Just wondering how much training is involved in the job. Or are you looking for people who have that specific skill set, and they’re ready to go as soon as they’re hired?
Tammy: Quite a few transsexual women, MTF friends of mine I meet, they’re cyclists but they’re not mechanics. So they’d be great on the sales end or rentals. So that’s falling into place.
I’ll also be going around to some of the nonprofit bike shops that teach people how to fix bikes. We have so many here. Usually they have a femme or tranny night, so they feel comfortable there and meet up. I’m sure I’ll find people there.
And I keep hearing names, like this guy is really good or that guy…of course I mean a trans* guy. So I’ll go to those classes and probably find the FTM guys I’m looking for. It’s getting there, but you have to be patient.
Jaye: From your Facebook page, I understand you’re going to a lot of industry trade shows, and making the rounds at Pride, and so forth. So, are you looking to bring in more of the gear-heads and professional cyclists along with people who just love bikes and cycling?
Tammy: I look for people who have a common interest in cycling or seem like they want to become cyclists. My customers should be my friends and my friends should be my customers, that’s how I think about it—I’m just trying to make friends. I want to show people how excellent bicycling is. Or if they’ve never gotten into it, I want them to try it.
I’m just another bike mechanic who loves cycling.
Jaye: Treasure Island, it’s also kind of a pit stop locale for commuters or people on a long ride, so it seems like it’s really ideal! Has the foot traffic been good for rentals and so on?
Tammy: It’s picking up. The new span of the Bay Bridge is complete, and the bike lane is 90 percent complete, so in the next few months it’ll get even better. I’m settled here, the shop is right here. So when that bike lane opens on that bridge, there’s going to be hundreds of commuters a day coming on their bicycles. I’m finally at the right time at the right place in life. It’s all about persistence. You just keep hanging in there.
You know, I started with absolutely nothing.
I used to own my own shop when I was a dude. When I transitioned, it was really hard. I was even homeless for a while. Right now, I’m barely making it. But still, if you come in my shop I’ve got 20-something bikes.
I hustle and I sacrifice, and I have tenacity. I love what I do, and I make it happen.
After the interview, Tammy mentioned that she’s working extremely hard to keep the shop open, and even though she’s set herself up for success, she’s still a one woman show. She’s working hard on repairs everyday, and the bills are stacking up—keeping up with them is unspeakably challenging (the shop has only been open since May, and its official launch since then is barely over).
Please visit Tammy, show your support, share her story with others, and visit her shop! It’s the only bike repair/rental/trading shop of its kind in the area, and Tammy’s a well-trained, highly-experienced car and bicycle mechanic.
Help Keep A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop Open and Thriving!
Click Here to Visit A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop at GoFundMe: http://www.gofundme.com/ATransBayBikeShop
Or, please Donate via PayPal and visit Tammy’s website at: