Emmett Schelling is an immigrant from South Korea, by way of foreign adoption, a trans man, Houstonian, and currently serves as executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT). Emmett organizes for gender equity, healthcare access, queer rights, immigrant rights, and the myriad of issues trans Texans are facing.
While working in the private sector, Emmett witnessed the manifestations that the impact transphobia was having in the world around him. He decided to volunteer with a local trans organization in San Antonio upon moving to Texas. After personally experiencing some of the worst products of bias that were directed at him simply due to being trans in combination being even more deeply involved with Transgender Network of Texas (TENT) during the 2017 Texas legislative session, he was compelled to dedicate his time to the movement and the trans community of Texas. He stepped into the role of Executive Director for TENT full time in March of 2017. Since then, Emmett has done extensive work in the trans community through organizing, advocacy, mutual aid, and storytelling.
Emmett is not only a leader in Texas but is also regarded as such across the nation, known for being an unapologetic and outspoken leader for trans rights. He currently continues to serve as the Executive Director of TENT, where he has been able to build the nation’s largest statewide BIPOC (from board to staff) trans-led policy organization. Emmett also serves as a board member of Deeds Not Words and on the National DNC Trans advisory committee. He also serves as a leader in various community leadership positions for organizations like the Trans Justice Funding Project (TJFP), the Transgender Law Center’s (TLC) state leaders national cohort, the Transgender Legal Defense Education Fund (TLDEF), and TransFORWARD, a long-term collaboration between TENT, the Equality Texas Foundation, and Texas Health Institute (THI).
Emmett’s ferocious, community focused, and no nonsense approach to the work has led him to be given the honor of receiving an array of awards from local, state, and national organizations in recognition of his work. In 2022, he was named one of “TIME’s 100 2022 list of Most Influential People in the World.” His awards also include Equality Texas’s 2019 annual “Monica Roberts Trans Advocacy” award, 2020’s “Trans Advocate of the Year” from TLDEF, Texas Diversity Council’s annual “Trans Advocate of the Year” (2022), Equality Federation’s Leadership award (2022), and was most recently recognized as The Mahogany Project’s “Man of the Year”.
He happily resides in Houston with his wife, child, and two adopted pups. In his off time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends through cuisine, and sports-especially football.