TransGriot Note: Guest post by Tona Brown
It’s Trans Awareness Month: As each day gets closer to TDOR (November 20th) a time where we recognize the names of all the transgender men and women that have been killed just for living in their truth; I realize that it’s time to really let the world know about how poorly we are treated within the #LGBT community especially when it comes to funding!
I receive so many emails and notes from people who assume that if you are transgender and successful that life is EASIER for you. It most certainly is not for a transgender woman of color!
I have learned that funds that are specifically raised by #LGBT org’s towards the transgender population are not being allocated to those that really need it the most. I have gone behind the scenes to see where are these funds going over the past four years. I have done research on websites like but not limited to LGBTQ funders.org just to see HOW MUCH money is sent to #LGBT organizations in an effort to help our community and the numbers are astounding! Millions of dollars have been sent to Gay and Lesbian organizations that use the “T” to receive said funds. The bigger questions is how much of that money “trickle’s down” to TRANSGENDER people?
Wake up call LGB Organizations… You have done our community wrong! You have asked our community support your agendas, you have tokenized so many of my sisters and brothers in believing that you would do better but still HAVE NOT! So let me list the services that are available from my personal research and attending various events.
HIV TESTING!! HIV TESTING AND MORE HIV TESTING! (Because of course every trans person has to be HIV positive right? WRONG!! BUT we know that you get most of YOUR funding from HIV grants)
PLENTY OF CONDOMS AND LUBE EVEN DENTAL DAMS (if there FANCY)
$5-$10 vouchers (FOR YOUR TIME) or bus passes or tokens.
If you’re lucky and a trans person has been allowed to help. A support group! TRANS WEDNESDAYS! Woo hoo!
Hormone therapy depending on your state and the program.
Assistance with name changes or birth certificates. (Very rare)
HOUSING.. NEARLY NEVER!
My personal favorite….SHADE!!! The girls are always telling me about a salty gay male who throws them enormous shade at the front desks or in the lobby and or he wants to talk to you about how “fierce” you look and how he would have never known you were trans! UGH
TAKING SURVEYS! (Of course we have to help you meet your quotas and deliverables) And no matter how many we fill out that say the same thing.. YEAR AFTER YEAR. The programs don’t change.
Over the years what I have learned the most is that if you are a trans person of color these programs really don’t suit your needs AT ALL. It’s no wonder that most trans people don’t support your events. You do not support us. Every survey conducted since the late 90’s and early 2000’s has told you what our community needs is EMPLOYMENT, HOUSING, FUNDING, and assistance to get NAME CHANGES AND BIRTH CERTIFICATE CHANGES (SO WE CAN GET A JOB).
But year after year these organizations pretend to care are still offering the same BS. The crumbs of their budget. The health department gives org’s condoms and lube FOR FREE!! You’re paying everyone else to test us. And since that is expensive… How about training more trans women to do it giving them EMPLOYMENT?! Your boards consist primarily of WHITE gay and lesbian people who have NO CLUE what our needs are. We need more transgender people on these boards. And any other place where you can HIRE US.. If you did a survey that says that we are facing employment discrimination but WE CAN NOT go to GAY AND LESBIAN organizations for employment THERE IS A PROBLEM!!
AGAIN!! We need HOUSING, AND EMPLOYMENT opportunities!!! Every survey has shown that transgender people live below the poverty line IN THE U.S. and the entire world. Yet your organizations continue to ask our community for financial support for YOUR agendas. The transgender community as a whole does not have the resources to do so.
The trans community has been left behind by #LGBT organizations that were supposed to be there for us. THIS EXCLUDES organization that are run by a trans person or trans oriented in its ENTIRETY.. However these organizations get very little support especially with FUNDING, fund raising or out right grants! Even their fiscal sponsors usually other Gay and Lesbian org’s supply little support and its hard for them to keep their doors open!
The other slap in the face comes when organizations decide to ask OUR community to do a panel discussions, keynote speeches or to talk about issues facing transgender people. 9 times out of 10 the transgender facilitator has do the it FOR FREE. Your organization has a 500k or 1 million dollar budget but you can’t pay transgender speakers or artists. But you pay everyone else.
The transgender community started the Stonewall rebellion that helped move the LGBT community forward YET.. the Gay and Lesbian organizations have left us behind. We are the after thought and quite frankly most of these organizations are just as bigoted as mainstream organizations.
Even events that make perfect sense to everyone else to get funding a transgender person of color has to struggle to get the funding for it. My Carnegie Hall debut and every other event I have done for the community does not get support from MAJOR LGBT organizations. There is always an excuse and people assume that I’ve gotten funding for these events that I self produce. NO!! I HAVE NEVER GOT FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM ANY MAJOR LGBT ORGANIZATIONS for ANY program or show I have done! I send HUNDREDS of proposals out to GAY/LESBIAN organizations every YEAR! I have never talked about it until now. Because unlike others I refuse to let these organizations keep me from my destiny. I refuse to go to these huge dinners and take pictures on their step and repeat when you’re not even using an 8th of your budget for our community.
These organizations don’t even do research on the people you actually give the money to and when things aren’t done properly you act surprised?! This happens because those of us with a track record or history of doing this work do not get the funding to do what we set out to do! AND WE WILL NOT DO IT FOR FREE!! So gay and lesbian organizations take risks on “new men and women” and often time in their defense get burned! AGAIN.. Do your homework first!!
To those that take advantage of money given to them and you do not do what you were supposed to do with it; NOTE you are not helping our community but harming our community and should be ashamed of your behavior! You’re part of the reason why we can’t get help for good programming that will help transgender people!
I will NOT perform for pride organizations that feel that I should perform for FREE but you pay a CISGENDER HETERO NORMATIVE performer (who might have mentioned one line about being gay friendly) 10’s of thousands of dollars either in check or a tax write-off to perform. I will not speak at your huge dinners and do a keynote just to get a check from an organization that only does surface campaigns to get deep pocket donors yet will not offer the proper services to transgender people.
And now that we come to better understand how you really feel about us. There is the question of the 21 or 22 transgender and gender non conforming murders in 2015 19 of them being transgender women of color! It’s a multi faceted issue further conversation and awareness and financial support is needed to help solve the problem.
I am working on a project with a magnificent team of trans attracted men who will be speaking with me from around the U.S. about what they think is going on. They will talk about their lives and the women they love and how they are demonized by others for being attracted to trans gender women. I would also like to do a video performance dedicated to the lives of these women but we cannot get funding for this from the organizations that claim they have out best interest in mind.
The media has already agreed to show their support but before I do another major event and people assume I’m getting funding and not paying out of pocket for it. I decided to share the TRUTH! To my team of volunteers who made Carnegie Hall and every event I’ve produced happen. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and to those that support me and my career. It takes men and women like you to make things happen behind the scenes when the money is not there. I hear your frustration when you send things off on my behalf only to be rejected because a black transgender woman is on the face of it. We may not be funded but we make history EVERY time I step on stage! I love you all dearly! Stay encouraged and NEVER GIVE UP! Remember one day#weshallovercome
I will be in NYC briefly performing for another event I believe in. Please get your ticket the performance is Thursday November 12th, 2015! I will be singing for this event and would like to see familiar faces in the audience if at all possible! WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!