We Are at a Crossroads: A Note to Philanthropy in the Wake of the Recent Supreme Court Decisions

We Are at a Crossroads: A Note to Philanthropy in the Wake of the Recent Supreme Court Decisions

By: Alexander Lee on July 19, 2023

We are at a crossroads.

The recent slate of Supreme Court decisions repealing hard won rights in affirmative action and protections for LGBTQ communities speaks to a reality that our movements have warned us about for generations. In the past two years we have seen the far right advance over four hundred ninety one anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures, the vast majority of which specifically attack the rights of trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) communities and their families, along with drag performers and artists. These attacks, coupled with far right organizing against Critical Race Theory, reproductive justice, and rights to privacy and bodily autonomy, have deeply impacted the physical and emotional safety of our communities – particularly those living at the intersections of race, disability, citizenship and class.

While the legal ramifications of these Supreme Court decisions continue to emerge, we know that attacks against our communities will only continue to escalate as we move towards the 2024 Presidential election.

Yet while many of us are now forced to choose between fleeing our home states to find safety, or staying rooted within communities and living with the daily threat of violence and criminalization, incredible local and national organizing is happening right now on the frontlines, fighting not just to safeguard our rights, but offering a compelling and necessary vision of a world where we are all free. Thousands of students have walked out of classrooms in protest of racist and transphobic policies. Communities across the country have built mutual aid programs to support TGNC adults and the families of TGNC youth forced to find alternatives after losing access to gender affirming health care. What is abundantly clear is that our communities know how to take care of each other and ourselves.

Philanthropy is at an inflection point. Our work in this moment of compounding crises is to trust movement, trust its strategy, and invest wholly and fully in its work. At a time when we and so many of the people we love are under real threat, it is incumbent upon philanthropy to organize as if our lives depend on movement – because in truth, our safety and well-being do.

To speak plainly, this is a life or death issue for us and the people we love. The protection and safety of LGBTQ communities, particularly Black and Brown TGNC communities, are inextricably linked to the well-being of our democratic systems. In the years to come those of us in the philanthropic sector will have to look back on this moment and ask ourselves: did we do enough? Help us ensure that the answer is a resounding yes.

Our most recent resource tracking report found that funding for LGBTQ communities and issues increased by fifty million dollars in 2021 over 2020,to a record $252 million dollars. While in any other years we might celebrate this kind of increase, the truth is that this rising tide has not lifted all boats and that this increase is not commensurate with this moment of increased need. Funding for TGNC communities, and Black and Brown communities continues to stagnate and/or decline at a time that necessitates us finally funding these communities like we want them to win, with urgency and abundance. Philanthropy must expand its investment in TGNC movements in all funding areas and portfolios, resisting the urge to splinter and silo funding, moving towards intersectional strategies that honor the realities and urgency of TGNC lives and our movement building.

In the coming months we will continue to offer ways for funders to gather, learn and build strategies to deepen resourcing of intersectional LGBTQ movements. If your institution is seeking to join us, please reach out to our team members Luna Moreta Avila to learn more about our Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) initiative, and to Ashe Helm-Hernández to learn more about how you can support the Trans Futures Funding Campaign. You can also review our resource page to support funding for LGBTQ organizing.

We are convening a series of spaces over the next several months for funders seeking a dynamic learning community. Our funder briefing on state and local organizing in response to anti-LGBTQ state legislation will take place on July 24th, in partnership with Grantmakers for Southern Progress. In September we will host a virtual member convening to gather foundations to talk about how they are responding to this moment, and share ideas and strategies to coordinate expanded philanthropic support. Please reach out to our Director of External Affairs, April Bethea for more information and how to register for this event. We will also host Funding Forward, our premiere gathering of LGBTQ funders, from November 29th to December 1st, in Chicago–registration is open now.

We hope you will join us in building deepened philanthropic partnerships with movement in a time when our strategies, organizing, and love for each other is so desperately needed. 

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