Meet Lou Stainback, the latest addition to the TXRX family.
Lou’s fascination with building began as pure interest in creating, which spawned into honing making skills through various industrial jobs. They bring a wealth of diverse professional experiences to TXRX, in addition to a poignant interest in seeing that making is equally promoted and facilitated for the LGBTQI+ community.
What brings you to TXRX Labs?
Originally, I came here because I was working an industry welding job and had been working various jobs like that for a while. I was getting a bit tired of building things for other people, so I needed a place where I could just go and build for myself and friends. I also wanted to get back into more creative work. I started with the tinkering membership and found out the other welding teacher wasn’t here anymore. I had a talk with Roland and found out the lab was looking for a welding shop manager/ teacher who had some industrial experience. I said, “sure”. It’s definitely a place where anything can happen. So, the possibilities seem limitless
How did you get into making?
I got into welding through school when I took a sculpture class that had some metal working. At that time, I became more interested in building creative craft work vs conceptual art, so I went to trade school because it seemed more practical. Welding is something I can do as a more stable career so I can support myself and my community. I have just been working various industry jobs since school. A lot of industry welding jobs require you to do the same few things over and over again. So, I would hang around learn that one thing, get bored and bounce to another place, so I could learn something new.
What do you enjoy about making at TXRX?
I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like routine. It seems that every project I do here is different from the last one. I also have more time and resources to work on my own various projects.
I understand you’re offering classes geared towards the LGBTQI+ community. What type of classes do you offer and what is the inspiration for this?
The class I am offering right now is a basic MIG welding and general shop tool overview. It is now a 5-hour class so that I can get as much information into it as possible.
When I first got offered the job here I had two conditions:
I’m transgender and non-binary and I wanted to be respected as I am at work. My correct pronouns are they and them, and I wanted to be able to teach classes to my community.
There is such a misogynistic culture in the welding and fabrication world. It’s getting better over time, but there’s still tons of transphobia, homophobia, and a lack of respect unless you’re a manly man type of dude or try to act like one.
I feel that having LGBTQI+ classes specifically is important because it can be an intimidating world for people in the community to break into. I wanted to teach this class so they can have the chance to tinker around, or even go on to have a career, and at least start in space where they know they’ll be respected. I have experienced a lot of disrespect throughout my career, so I wanted to create space for myself and others to feel more at home in the shop.
As a service to the community, is there something you hope to inspire or achieve through your courses?
I’m hoping that through these classes that it will inspire people to consider a type of work that they hadn’t considered doing before because they didn’t have access to it, or they didn’t feel like they would be comfortable in class. I’m hoping these classes are showing that it doesn’t matter what your gender is. If you’re interested in making, you can and should feel safe. I think there is a need for that in shop classes.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about your work with TXRX and goals as a maker?
As a creator it’s really rewarding to be in a space where I can collaborate with other people. One of the beautiful things about TXRX is that all the departments can be connected in a really different ways. I am looking forward to doing more combination classes. There are so many skilled people that work here, so I want to pick their brains and work with all of them. My personal goal is to prioritize LGBTQI+ people with an emphasis on the T in the future programs here at TXRX. We will be starting a welding apprenticeship program here next year and I’m hoping I can find some interested trans people to be in the program. It is hard for a lot of trans, gender non conforming, and Intersex people to find jobs where they can be themselves because of discrimination. Job training that centers around acceptance and justice over paying lip service to look “diverse” is needed. Hopefully, it can be a really wonderful thing.