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

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

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on March 10, 2023

In the following statement, we call on philanthropy to act to resource the needs of our transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) community in this most crucial moment. The situation is dire and we know philanthropy can and must do more and we have crafted this statement with that in mind. If your foundation or PSO would like to sign on to this open letter please contact, April Bethea.


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.

In this moment we call on funders to do two things: 

Think creatively to rapidly move resources to address the urgent conditions on the ground.

This includes: 

    • Low barrier general operating grants for LGBTQ organizations, prioritizing TGNC people of color led groups rooted in states under attack. 

    • Responding to the safety and security needs of groups and organizations currently under attack, including support for TGNC individuals seeking affirming care, families supporting their trans kids and resources for providers who risk their professional licenses, and even the threat of incarceration, providing gender-affirming care for youth in the face of state bans.

Move funds as quickly and easily as possible to current grantees to help them weather this current crisis. 

    • If you are currently funding organizations firmly rooted in states under attack, consider ways to increase resources moving to these organizations through unrestricted grants to help strengthen their efforts to fight back. Figure out ways to lessen the burden of proposal writing and reporting requirements.

    • If you are not currently funding organizations rooted in states under attack, move funds quickly and easily to the Trans Futures Funding Campaign. This developing campaign – informed by Grantmakers United for Trans Communities and the Out in the South Initiative – aims to help LGBTQ organizations respond to the current anti-trans attacks and address longstanding infrastructure needs of trans and TGNC organizing efforts, especially those firmly rooted in the South and Midwest. 

Our freedoms are bound up in each other. Protecting the rights our social movements have fought for demands working beyond silos. It will require support from funders who have not yet funded LGTBQ communities – and the recognition that regardless of the issue, if you are committed to intersectional liberation, your grantmaking portfolio must center the leadership of Black and Brown TGNC communities. We are proud to work in coalition with our philanthropic partners to commit to supporting TGNC communities with the urgency this moment demands, and call on all funders to join us in this fight.


Funders for LGBTQ Issues

with support from:

ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities

Arabella Advisors

Arcus Foundation

Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)

Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice

Black Migrant Power Fund

Black Trans Fund

Borealis Philanthropy

Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP)

CHANGE Philanthropy

Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity

Diverse City Fund

Emergent Fund

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP)

Equity in the Center


Foundation for a Just Society

Four Freedoms Fund

Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) 

Funders for Justice

Funders for Reproductive Equity

Funders Together to End Homelessness

General Service Foundation

Gill Foundation

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)

Grantmakers for Girls of Color

Grantmakers in Health

Grantmakers in the Arts

Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP)

Groundswell Fund

Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP)

Horizons Foundation

Horning Family Foundation

if, A Foundation for Radical Possibility

Just Beginnings Collaborative

Laughing Gull Foundation

Marin Community Foundation

Meyer Memorial Trust

Ms. Foundation for Women

Nathan Cummings Foundation

National Center for Family Philanthropy

Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP)

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)

Nebula Fund

Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG)

New Breath Foundation

New York Foundation

New York Women’s Foundation

Northern California Grantmakers

North Star Fund

Open Horizon Foundation

PFund Foundation

Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation

Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE)

Philanthropy Northwest

Philanthropy West Virginia

Pride Foundation


Proteus Fund

Sanford and Doris Slavin Foundation

Southern California Grantmakers

Stonewall Community Foundation

Stupski Foundation

The Funders Network

Third Wave Fund

Transgender Strategy Center

Trans Justice Funding Project (TJFP)

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF)

United Philanthropy Forum

Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG)

Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Women Moving Millions

Women’s Foundation of California

Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Women’s Funding Network (WFN)

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