Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and the US Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), may seem unrelated, but they have produced a serendipitous phenonomenon: heightened public awareness about transgender people through popular culture. The transgender community faces dangerous challenges that warrant more philanthropic support, including grants to bring about lasting social change.
Will this public awareness influence philanthropists – through grant making foundations as well as individuals – to accelerate change in meeting transgender people’s needs? It might even save lives. Like Caitlyn Jenner, grantseekers can really “do some good”. Transgender people deserve to live authentic lives.
Grantmakers supporting GLBT issues have a limited history of targeting transgender needs, more often giving to national organizations. Notable recipients include the important National Transgender Law Center, the Justice Center and the ACLU GLBT programs. Funding tends to be clustered around urban areas that already have a significant GLBT population.
To adequately meet the transgender community’s needs, support for these lead organizations should continue at the same level while engaging new donors projects delivered by new entities and collaborative partners. Leadership of organizations that typically develop projects serving vulnerable populations may already be inclined to participate.
Among grant makers, this sample list is not exhaustive; it highlights the grant making of these organizations as reported on their 990, federal tax return. (Additional prospects to be listed by July 30 on a list.)
- Arcus Foundation NYC provided $293,443 to the GLBT movement in Russia in 2013 and $65414 in the same year to fund the Arcus Leadership Initiative to Support GLBT executive directors
- Tides Foundation, $5000 to Justice Now for transgender/gender variant/ inter-sex project; $5,000 to the National Association of Transgender Professionals; $5,000 to the National Center Transgender Equality; $1500 to the New Organizing Education Fund; $3,000 Transgender Center of New Mexico Support Center; $15000 to the SanFrancisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center for Employment Services (not restricted to transgender); $500 to Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth – Veterans; $2000 Transgender Law Center in SanFrancisco CA; $20,000 to Transgender Law Center, Oakland, CA.
- Stonewall Foundation, NYC in 2013, $15000 to ACLU project, LBGT and AIDS; $15,000, GLBT Community Center
- Gill Foundation, $200,000 to LGBT Elders Services, NYC; $200,000 LGBT Community Center, Colorado; $100,000 to ACLU, LGBT project; $100,000 Transgender Law Center; $80,000 Transgender Law Center, project focusing on youth; $52466 Services for GLBT Elders, NYC; $50,000 National Center for Transgender Equality; $46872 Services for GLBT elders, market research study; $17,328, Services for GLBT Elders; $4000, Justice Now, CA; $1500, GLBT Community Center, CO, “Family OUTing” ; Northwest Arkansas GLBT , $1000; $1000, Transition Law Center, Oakland CA; $662 Services for GLBT Elders; $100, GLBT Community Center, Denver, CO;$50, GLBT, Denver CO;
Popular Culture: Caitlyn and the Court
How can popular culture identify new approaches to reach grant makers? There are signs – shouts – that it’s time to seize the day. There are subtle changes in popular culture that show the presence of transgender people in ordinary lives, an almost imperceptible shift.
Popular culture quickly embraced Caitlyn Jenner. After Caitlyn appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, she opened a Twitter acicount and had over a million followers within four hours. As her documentary series, “I am Cait” premieres, she is already finding her celebrity provides the means to educate the public and reach out to other transgender people. Among Caitlyn’s goals to have an impact on reducing the alarmingly high rate of suicide among transgender people.
While Caitlyn appears to be the most prominent transgender woman in the media, she is one of several:
- In 2014, Laverne Cox, cast member, Orange is the New Black, was the first transgender woman to receive an Emmy nomination.
- Jazz Jennings, “I am Jazz”, is a 14-year old transgender girl, is sharing her story about growing up transgender and what the support of her dynamic family means, on TLC.
- On ABC, “Becoming Us” is a gripping documentary that concentrates another family aspect: a teenage boy whose father is a transgender woman.
On June 26, when the US Supreme Court’s decision made same-sex marriage the law of the land, public reaction was a reminder the Court has been part of popular culture since its inception. In 1787, when three of the nation’s framers sent 85 essays to New York newspapers to promote ratification of the Constitution, the essays became the Federalist Papers. In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton described the Court as the “least dangerous of the three branches of government ” and that it may” have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment.” From Hamilton’s perspective, the judgment of the US Supreme Court would determine if the laws were in line with the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, feared the courts and thought giving judges the right to decide which laws were constitutional would, as he wrote to Abigail Adams, “make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”The extent of differences between Hamilton and Jefferson led to the formation of factions, which spawned the two party-system: Republicans and Federalists. In 1803, the US Supreme Court would establish the power of judicial review in Marbury v Madison, a landmark decision, despite Jefferson’s objections.
This past June 26, when the US Supreme Court’s announced its 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), is a Constitutional right, LGBT people celebrated joyously and visibly throughout the nation. From the White House illuminated in a light-show of rainbows to social media, their jubilation was shared by every American who hoped for this watershed moment.
“The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”
Against the backdrop of such a victorious moment, the transgender community’ unmet needs – needs beyond the marriage question – are brutally apparent. There may be no better time to develop projects that reflect the specific issues faced by transgender people, approach new funders and collaborate with suitable organizations. It’s time to write a proposal to support a transgender-specific initiative.
Transgender People Face Danger and Discrimination
Transgender people benefit from the Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) ruling because they can marry without interference based on gender identity.
Still, in the shadows of this splendor, transgender people face stressful and unpredictably dangerous roadblocks to being themselves – daily.
- Barriers to obtaining accurate identity documents that names their gender without surgical reassignment in many states;
- Discrimination in employment, including job loss and harassment on the job;
- Escalating rate of suicide attempts among transgender people at 41 percent, in contrast to LGBT attempts at 10-20 percent;
- Spike in violent hate crimes in 2014, including rise in attacks against transgender women, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Over half (55%) of homicide victims were transgender women and half (50%) of homicide victims were transgender women of color. There was an 11% increase in homicides in 2014. In 2015, there have been 10 homicides, most recently when India Clarke died from blunt force trauma in on July 22 in Florida.
- Among survivors of violence, 27% experience hostile attitudes from police. Among those who experienced hostilty and police misconduct, 57% reported being unjustly arrested.
- Transgender women in prison are 13 % more likely to be assaulted than non-transgender (cisgender) inmates
- Difficulty accessing appropriate health care
- Disproportionate number of homeless transgender people, drug abusers and people with HIV.
- Isolated and limited in receiving appropriate care in old age
Transgender people are part of the LGBT community, but separate projects that address their unique concerns are necessary. What happens to transgender people, especially transgender women, doesn’t happen in quite the same way to people who are gay, lesbian or cisgendered (as they were born). Transgender people, facing enumerable obstacles to acceptance, are fired from jobs, denied promotions, harassed at work, bullied in social situations, stonewalled in seeking health care and services in old age.
Birth certificates: M or F for who people are now
Birth certificates are primary documents everyone needs to get a drivers license renewed and so much more. Andrea Bowen, Executive Director of the Garden State Equality Center, is a transgender woman. A dedicated spokeswoman, she articulates why transgender people need to be able to obtain accurate birth certificates without sex reassignment:
“Did you know that in New Jersey, transgender people can’t correct the M or F on their birth certificates unless they get some form of gender affirmation surgery? Most transgender people never have any surgery. Medical standards say that you can’t have genital surgery until you’ve reached the age of majority for medical consent. Translation? Youth can’t get their birth certificates corrected under New Jersey law.
And why is it important to correct birth certificates? Because we should have identity documents that match who we are. Because if some authority—like a school administrator, when you’re enrolling for school, or an employer, when you applying for a job—sees your birth certificate, and the marker doesn’t match what the administrator or employer knows you to be, you could be at risk for discrimination.”
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill in 2014 that would have made it easier for transgender people to obtain an accurate birth certificate without surgical sex reassignment. The person would receive “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition.” This would accelerate the process and extend appropriate respect and safety to the transgender person. There is a similar bill about to come across his desk in 2015. Will he sign it this time?
NEXT: Grants to prevent violence against transgender people.