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When the Solace team proposed its idea for an app to help transgender people plan their transition earlier this year, founder Robbi Catherine Anthony said she wanted to make the process “significantly easier”. 

While the project is still on its way to its $80k crowdfunding target, the team’s second app is now available: a collection of curated news featuring stories currently impacting the transgender community.

The Respite app (Android / iOS) aims to help members of the trans community to keep up with news of trans issues. Informative insights and annotations will help provide context, and users can also easily follow editors and curators of the news on social media, the company says. 

What the Respite news app adds

Adding a curated news feature to the Solace package is an important aspect, particularly given the hostility shown towards trans and transitioning people in the US. 

In a 2019 survey carried out by Solace, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents suffered some form of housing discrimination in the past year (e.g. being evicted or denied an apartment) as a result of being transgender.

The Project Solace survey also found that one in five (20 percent) respondents did not use at least one type of public accommodation in the past year as a result of fear of mistreatment for being a transgender person.

The Respite app has already received positive feedback on the Google Play Store, with one user saying it’s “very cool, very informative”.

The Solace journey so far

As a trans woman, founder Robbi Catherine Anthony wanted to create an app to help trans people access accurate and informative resources and tools to help them through their transition. 

She found that while there was a lot of discussion and advice on forums online, much of this was anecdotal and she wanted to provide a more fact-based approach. 

“Our goal is to use technology to augment that phase ‘it gets better’ into ‘how it gets better,” Anthony said. “For anyone going through transition, this app will hopefully make the process significantly easier since all of the necessary, accurate information will be centralized in one place. 

“Right now people are resorting to forums full of anecdotal experiences regarding transition, which can contain a lot of inaccurate and inconsistent information.” 

The app came about during the world’s only LGBTQIA-themed start up weekend, HackOut in Austin, Texas. Alongside Anthony, the core team include Patrick McHugh, Juan Pablo Delgado, Ari Martinez and Diego Hernandez.

Hackout 2019 Solace Pitch

In June, the Solace team launched the Solace Angels program, where, for $35 per month, investors could support the development of the app and act as a board of advisors. 

By mid-August, less than three months after the crowdfunder was launched, Solace had received $18,000 in donations. 

On August 19, angel investor Product Trust Investments announced it would match donations of every $1,000 raised. 

Founder Taylor McCaslin said: “We need more technical leaders like Robbi and team who don’t just seek to build profitable companies, but who want to inspire meaningful and impactful change in their communities.”

In September, Solace also launched a shop to help reach the donations target, with all proceeds going towards the project. 

On September 2, it released its Spokane Trans Map, a pilot app sharing localized information about whether businesses are friendly towards transgender people, if they have a single-occupancy restroom, and if the business is supportive towards transgender people in the Spokane area of Washington. 

As Solace receives support from major ethical investors and individual backers, the product seems to be making steps towards achieving exactly what its founder set out to do: make the transiting process easier and more informed, while building up a supportive community along the way (complete with pretty nice-looking merchandise). 

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