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In the United States, Black trans people are a catalytic force for LGBTQ equality, Black liberation, and gender justice. Investments in Black trans movement leadership accelerate progress in these areas for all people. This is true now and has been throughout history.

Bré Rivera

Program Fellow, Black Trans Fund

Bre Rivera photo

“Building on the legacy of so many Black trans freedom fighters, and led by and for Black trans people who come out of movement organizing, the Black Trans Fund embodies self-determination in resourcing our community.”

Groundswell is incubating the Black Trans Fund (BTF), directed by Bré Rivera, for the next two years. Bré’s vision for the Black Trans Fund is rooted in her experience as former executive director of an under-resourced grassroots organization and her commitment to supporting abundance within Black trans movements.   

The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. 

Support the Black Trans Fund by donating today.

Black Trans Fund 2020 Grantees

Black Queer & Intersectional Collective (BQIC) is a grassroots community organization in central Ohio that advances the liberation of Black queer, trans, and intersex people from all walks of life through direct action, community organizing, issue education, and the creation of spaces that uplift community voice.

In June of 2017, a demonstration planned by a coalition of Black queer and trans people in Columbus, Ohio made national headlines after organizers were arrested. The organizers sought to raise awareness of the violence and erasure of Black and Brown queer and trans people, in particular the lack of space for Black and Brown people at the Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade, an annual pride celebration in Columbus.

Not long after, BQIC launched the “Free Black Pride 4” campaign that successfully fought to get charges against the members dropped. As an act of cultural resistance, BQIC created and now hosts an annual free Black Pride Celebration in honor of the “Free Black Pride 4” that centers and celebrates Black queer and trans liberation. In 2018, BQIC began deepening their organizing work and created a set of Systemic Demands that guides its radical vision for liberation. In June of 2020, BQIC released #12ToAbolish12, a platform for abolishing the Columbus Division of Police and making the city a more liberated place, especially for Black LGBTQ+ people.

In response to the pandemic, BQIC implemented a mutual aid program that provides recipients with up to $1,000 per person per year to provide Black queer and trans people with financial resources to help the community sustain themselves. These funds are crucial to the survival of Black trans communities in Columbus, considering Ohio is one of the most hostile states in the country for trans and queer communities of color.

BTFA connects the community of Black trans women and non-binary femmes in the arts to build community power among Black trans women and non-binary femmes. BTFA creates social change, making conditions better for Black trans communities by centering the art of Black trans femmes and creating an outlet for members to shape the future of their dreams.

Founded on the principle that Black trans femmes are human beings who deserve access to the things they enjoy, BTFA supports Black trans femmes in living the life of their dreams, while learning about how art is vital to liberation.

BTFA host a weekly performance space for artists to share their gifts and talents while getting paid for their craft. Leading with love and protection of Black trans femmes, BTFA also created a bail fund and provides mutual aid for Black trans femmes nationwide in response to the protest and uprising for Black Lives.

Black Trans Media is committed to building the power of Black trans people and trans communities of color. It works at the intersections of racial and gender justice, confronting racism and transphobia in institutions and everyday life.

Black Trans Media shifts and reframes the value and worth of Black trans people by creating and supporting media that amplifies the Black trans experience, organizing community-based events around issues of injustice and liberation, and centering Black trans folks in its work and its leadership. Its projects and collaborations connect Black trans people, the broader public, and sustainable opportunities to build, showcase, heal, and celebrate Black trans lives.

Black Trans Media shifts transphobia by uplifting Black trans people, transforms conditions by telling stories, and using those stories to build power and organize, creating a cultural organizing space for Black trans people. Black Trans Media creates social change, making conditions better for Black trans communities by honoring the legacy of Black trans leaders, past and present, and centering Black trans people.

As a grassroots organization, Black Trans Media seeks to invest in the community to ensure that the Black trans community is seen on its own terms, is supported, and has access to the funds needed to maintain housing.

Founded in 2019, For the Growls improves Black trans communities’ conditions by providing low barrier mutual aid support to Black trans women and femmes, evolving from a collective that hosted rent parties into a direct service and resource sharing organization.

In 2020, For the Gworls evolved from a rent party collective into a full-service organization that can meet the community’s growing needs during the Coronavirus pandemic. Mutual aid offerings provided by For the Gworls include payments for rent, gender-affirming care, and surgery micro-grants, reducing homelessness rates while increasing Black trans femmes access to joy.

Now more than ever, this work is important because Black transgender people are losing employment opportunities in disproportionately high numbers due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which only exacerbates already terrible conditions that Black trans femmes face. For the Gworls protects Black trans femmes by providing funding for affirmative surgeries, reducing the barriers caused by lack of insurance coverage for trans-related healthcare, and the limited list of provides that perform gender-affirming procedures.

SisTers PGH is a Black trans-led community center that provides person first supportive services, emergency shelter, and housing for transgender and non-binary communities in Pittsburgh seeking respite from homelessness and needing supportive services. SisTers PGH makes conditions better for Black trans communities by supporting grassroots organizers who are on the ground protesting and providing education and support to members fighting for collective liberation with Black trans people in leadership.

Founded in 2013 as a resource provider, SisTers PGH has evolved into a political education hub for Black trans communities, teaching members to review and draft legislation; leading actions demanding better conditions for transgender and non-binary people incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail, and protesting fracking in communities of color.

In 2020, with support from Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund in collaboration with Black Trans Fund, SisTers PGH created a mutual aid fund to provide therapy and essential recovery services to Black transgender and non-binary people in Pittsburgh during COVID-19.

Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE) Resource Center works to empower trans women of color by meeting needs and increasing accessibility. TAKE improves Black trans communities’ conditions by empowering members to create space to heal and love each other while creating low-barrier programming and services tailored to the trans communities of Birmingham, Alabama. TAKE Peer Advocate programming provides workplace discrimination, “know your rights, ” and civic engagement training to increase member awareness of political issues most impact trans Alabamians.

TAKE Resource Center provides peer-driven leadership programming, support groups, and team-building retreats to develop the next generation of trans leaders in the fight for trans liberation. TAKE Resource Center created a transitional housing program, Gloria’s House, that has expanded service to provide housing to fourteen trans femmes, transmasculine, and non-binary, trans people struggling with housing insecurity. The U.S. Department of Housing discriminatory housing practices and policies, allowing shelters to refuse housing people with non-traditional gender presentations.

The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic, and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black trans and non-binary people.

Often pushed out of faith spaces, and yet still deeply connected to the historical legacy of spirituality in the Black community, Black trans people face unprecedented spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing and affirmation centered on uplifting Black trans and non-binary people and an expression of the diverse faiths and spiritual practices of Black trans communities.

The Black Trans Prayer Book creates social change, making conditions better for Black trans communities by addressing religious-based violence, giving participants and readers a space to heal from religious anti-queer and anti-trans rhetoric; be honest about the trauma they experience, and demand accountability from religious institutions.

Looking towards the future, The Black Trans Prayer Book will release a documentary film l highlighting stories of Black trans faith leaders as they navigate complex relationships of faith and trans identities while providing contributing writers with technologies and equipment necessary to continue to share their faith journeys.

Founded in 2012, The Knights & Orchids Society (TKO) builds the African American TLGB community’s power throughout rural Alabama and across the South to win its dream of justice and equality through voter engagement and a wraparound support approach that includes collective economics, education, leadership, organizing, and cultural work. TKO supports trans and queer people of color (TQPOC), prioritizing HIV prevention and interventions to address the social determinants of health that are propelling the poor health outcomes of Black trans people in the South providing direct health and wellness services to its members.

In 2020, TKO organized its members and collaborated with the Yellowhammer Fund to stop a bill restricting transitional care for TGNC (Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming) youth. The Alabama Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which would make it a Class C felony for any doctor or health care provider who prescribes medications intended to delay the onset of puberty or perform gender-affirming procedures on transgender minors.

TKO used defeat as an opportunity to expand healthcare programming to help families navigating healthcare for trans youth while also addressing lack of transportation, the closest TGNC friendly provider is 150 miles away from Selma AL, TKO offers mutual aid support, financial planning, documentation changes, reproductive justice resources and a virtual network of providers for Black trans communities in Alabama. In response to the pandemic, TKO moved over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to Black communities in Selma. TKO takes part in getting out the vote and voter engagement efforts to ensure that members have the information needed to make informed decisions at the ballot box.

Based on the principles of intersectionality, the Outlaw Project prioritizes the leadership of people of color, transgender women, gender non-binary, and migrant people to advance sex worker rights. The Outlaw Project creates social change, improving conditions for Black trans communities by working to end “manifestation laws” that disproportionately result in the arrests of Black trans women accused of sex work.

Led by Monica Jones, a Black trans social worker and international advocate for sex worker rights, The Outlaw Project believes that ensuring legal rights and health is a first step toward ensuring the wellbeing and safety of all sex workers. The Outlaw Project collaborated with Groundswell Fund grantee Trans Queer Pueblo and the ALCU and brought a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix to make changes to Municipal Code E, which currently criminalizes waving at cars, talking to passersby, and asking if someone is a police officer.

The code disproportionally affects Black, Brown, and migrant trans women. During the Coronavirus pandemic, sex workers from surrounding states traveled to Arizona, where they could work more freely, due to lack of restrictions on social distancing. Support from a recent Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund grant, in collaboration with Black Trans Fund, allowed The Outlaw Project to provide emergency relief funding, gift cards for gas, and hotel vouchers to Black trans women traveling through Phoenix seeking work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Outlaw Project’s leadership team has had difficulty finding housing for trans women during the pandemic due to transphobia and anti-sex worker policies at hotels. The Outlaw Project is now developing a tiny homes program that would create safe and affordable housing for Black and Brown trans women living in the greater Phoenix area.

San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood has long been the heart of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ community; the 1966 uprising at the Compton Cafeteria, located in the heart of the Tenderloin, is the first documented uprising of transgender and queen people in the U.S. In 2017, three Black trans women lead the effort to rename the area “Compton’s Transgender Cultural District” and created this organization to cultivate an urban environment that fosters the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the neighborhood.

The Transgender District aims to stabilize and economically empower the transgender community through ownership of homes and businesses, and the creation of historical and cultural sites and safe community spaces. TD’s programs include tenant protection, economic justice, and workforce development (including employment training and counseling programs), arts and culture, cultural heritage protection, and land use, zoning, and beautification. As is true around the nation, San Francisco’s Black trans community has been disproportionately hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as its members experience job loss, housing insecurity, health risks, and increased violence.

The Transgender District received a recent Rapid Response Fund grant, in collaboration with Black Trans Fund, to strengthen mutual aid and housing assistance to Black trans people living in the Tenderloin. The Transgender District creates social change, making conditions better for Black trans communities by obtaining legal recognition for the District, which will be a win for the community living in and around the Tenderloin. The District is creating real community security by hiring and housing Black trans people.

Black Trans Fund Advisory Board

Joshua Allen (they/them)
Black Excellence Collective

eli dru (he/they)
Black Trans Media
Black Trans Travel Fund
Transgender Gender-variant
Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP)

Xavier MaatRa (he/him/his)
DAB of Consulting

Jai’ Shavers (they/them)
BreakOUT!

J Mase III (he/him/his)
Black Trans Prayer Book

Aaryn Lang (she/her/hers)
Aaryn Lang Consulting

Monica Jones (she/her)
Found & CEO, Outlaw Project