ICYMI: We Will Only Move Forward Together: An Open Call To Philanthropy

From Funders for LGBTQ Issues:

Last week, the governors of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas signed into law bills attacking the rights of LGBTQ communities:

➤ Arkansas restricted drag performances in public spaces.

➤ Mississippi banned gender-affirming health care for youth under the age of eighteen.

➤ Tennessee restricted drag performances in public spaces and banned gender-affirming healthcare for youth under the age of eighteen.

These bills are only four of three hundred and ninety-one anti-LGBTQ bills proposed in state legislatures across the country since the start of the 2023 legislative session and they join bills in Utah and South Dakota also signed into law in these first three months of the year. Republican controlled state houses and governors in the South and Midwest have ramped up their efforts to codify transphobia into state law. Throughout these two regions, lawmakers have signed bills that target trans people, our families, and trans youth in particular.

Make no mistake: we are in a crisis.

We have seen more broad anti-LGBTQ bills and specific anti-trans bills introduced in the last three months than in the whole of 2022. And while fewer than ten percent of last year’s bills were passed into law, the escalating number and severity of harmful legislation is a harbinger of things to come.

Over one hundred and fifty bills specifically target transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) communities. Wholesale assaults on bodily autonomy are part of a terrifying and well-worn tactic by far-right movements to weaponize TGNC communities as a divisive wedge issue to roll-back hard-won rights within reproductive, racial, and gender justice. Even this past weekend, several star speakers at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Convention unleashed an avalanche of anti-trans rhetoric, with one mainstage speaker demanding the “eradication” of TGNC communities. This rise in authoritarianism is not addressed by current funding practices.
Queer and trans organizers on the ground are leading beautiful, robust and intersectional movements despite being vastly underfunded. Our sector has a mandate to show up and resource this intersectional movement building and simply put, in this moment of crisis it is not doing enough.

Our most recent tracking report found that philanthropic funding for LGBTQ communities is stagnating. Further, funding for state organizing only comprises fourteen percent of all LGBTQ funding. As we continue to fight for the safety, wellness, joy, and abundance of our community— particularly our TGNC youth— alongside the most mundane right to exist, this number is not enough.

Those in the philanthropic sector committed to investing in civic engagement, racial justice, reproductive rights, and indeed all social movements must center trans and gender-nonconforming movement organizations in their grantmaking.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues will continue to bring our network together in the coming weeks and months to find new ways to resource LGBTQ communities. We invite funders to join us on Monday, March 20th at 3 PM for a special funder briefing. This briefing will provide funders an opportunity to hear from movement leaders about their work in this critical moment and consider how philanthropy can support the work and fund TGNC communities.

It is well past the time for change and decisive action, philanthropy can and must do more and we are here to support it as it does. It is our hope that funders will listen and learn from the wisdom of our movement as they work to resource the liberation we all deserve.

Read the full letter and learn how to support.