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A Note from TLC’s Leadership
Dear TLC supporters,
In the face of tremendous grief, loss and relentless violent attacks, Transgender Law Center had a powerful 2020, full of trans resistance and resilience, and uplifting joy whenever possible. As the largest trans-led organization in the U.S., we felt an overwhelming responsibility to support the self-determination, safety, and wellness of gender nonconforming and/or nonbinary and trans people, especially Black trans women and femmes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Black violence and murder. We’re proud that TLC staff jumped into action, and that we collectively made space for individuals and groups to care for trans leaders in our programs with direct cash relief, to create virtual community gatherings and leadership trainings, and to convene LGBTQ+ groups to support the Defund the Police movement. We sustained our critical legal services through high demand, working for justice on behalf of individuals affected by anti-trans policies, and by suing the federal government to release trans people from ICE detention. TLC survived and thrived in 2020, through our commitment to compassionate action and community care, strengthened by a record number of generous funders and donors.
Thank YOU for your many gifts to TLC, including financial support and spreading the word on social media and other channels. Together, we will continue to center the leadership of trans and gender nonconforming and/or nonbinary people so we may all have a truly liberated future.
Board Chair, 2020
Board Chair, 2021
TLC in 2020 – Resistance, Resilience, Joy
Nearly 27K people attended 45 virtual community gatherings hosted by TLC to reduce fear and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support urgent needs on topics ranging from HOUSING, DISABILITY JUSTICE, IMMIGRATION
Responded to 1.5K requests through our legal helpline and prison mail program
Engaged, trained, and/or resourced 474 transgender activists and allies through TLC programs
174 organizations and partners signed on to our Defund the Police statement, including LGBTQIA+ organizations in all corners of the U.S.
172 organizations joined our inaugural Defund the Police teach-in presented in partnership with the MOVEMENT FOR BLACK LIVES, SOUTHERNERS ON NEW GROUND, and FREEDOM, INC.
Litigated 14 impact cases in the areas of ending ICE detention, protecting trans health care rights, releasing trans people from prison, and immigration.
Filed 11 amicus briefs for fair housing, ending trans detention, and voting rights
Led 3 legal clinics and consulted on and supported 7 more with organizations throughout the U.S.
Mobilized 71 volunteers for our Legal Services Project, including attorneys and other legal professionals
Activated 57 partnerships with fellow movement groups for gender, economic, racial, and disability justice
Represented 36 U.S .states and territories through TLC leadership trainees and movement partners
Curated 1 virtual care package of music, artwork, meditations, and DJ mixes to alleviate the pain and grief of our time
The Trans Agenda for Liberation
Community-Led Guide towards the World We Deserve
In March 2020, we launched our Trans Agenda, an initiative to highlight that trans people hold the knowledge, power, and joy to create a future of collective liberation. This agenda addresses the urgent political, legal, and social violence enacted against our communities, while channeling trans imagination to bring our boldest visions to life. The Trans Agenda grows out of the work that communities and individuals are already doing, and points toward work that still needs to be done. The Trans Agenda centers the lives and voices of trans people of color, who have too often had to advance our collective liberation from the margins. Trans justice is migrant justice, disability justice, racial justice, environmental justice, reproductive justice, economic justice, and gender justice. An agenda for trans liberation is a blueprint for liberation for all.
Read The Trans Agenda, or each individual pillar below.
Legal Work to #EndTransDetention
Care and Safety in the Time of Covid
We filed suit in the U.S. District Court against the Trump-Pence administration’s rule that undermines the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination protections. We partnered with the National Women’s Law Center, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School, and the law firm Hogan Lovells to protect non-discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex — including pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.
TLC won a key decision in our first ever class action on behalf of all incarcerated trans women in Colorado, in partnership with law firm King & Greisen, LLP and law firm Arnold & Porter. Our plaintiffs have collectively survived the entire litany of horrors that trans women face in men’s prisons. The complaint seeks damages and an end to the exclusion of trans women from Colorado’s women’s prison, as well as other remedies including trans-competent health providers and treatment, protection from sexual assault and violence, and use of proper names, pronouns, and honorifics for trans women. The Court held that prisons qualify as public accommodations, a holding that potentially has broad implications for prison litigation throughout the country.
TLC partnered with Rapid Defense Network and law firm Ballard & Spar to file another class action lawsuit to release transgender people from immigration detention, which had become increasingly unsafe due to COVID-19. We argued that immigration detention was unsafe due to abusive treatment of trans people, and due to medical vulnerability brought on by years of societal, institutional, and interpersonal discrimination and violence. By December 2020, all but one of our 13 plaintiffs were released.
Black Trans Circles of Sustenance and Joy
At the onset of the pandemic, members of TLC’s Black Trans Circles program were in immediate crisis in terms of employment, housing, food, and medical care. Because the majority of these Southern leaders are former or current sex workers, they were not eligible for unemployment benefits.
TLC staff visioned ways we could support and care for the most vulnerable people in our TLC community and took action in ways that our government would not do to address this need. We provided direct cash relief in the form of stipends to Black Trans Circle leaders so they could continue organizing and caring for others in their communities.
We also virtually convened leaders for three days to scope out the needs of the New Orleans trans community, build trust and support, and strategize ways to build power.
Positively Trans Makes History for Healing Justice
TLC hosted virtual meetings and sent care packages and stipends to TLC’s Positively Trans members so they could continue to advocate for themselves and their communities.
For years, the leaders of Positively Trans have pushed the global HIV/AIDS community to recognize and include the voices of transgender people. Before 2015, the largest constituent-based HIV conference in the U.S., AIDS Watch, had little to no visibility for trans and non-binary participants living with HIV. Now, thanks to Positively Trans, there is a trans affinity session and symposium. In 2020, TLC leaders, all trans women and femmes of color, made history when they called for conference participants from all over the country to center trans people in their work.
They spearheaded the first trans-specific policy asks including nationwide decriminalization of HIV, nondiscrimination in healthcare, and the freedom to choose their own treatment and well-being. They demanded people who will be most impacted by the policy be included in the policy strategy: Black cis gay men; trans people of color; Black trans folks; HIV+ elders; and sex workers.
Taking Action to Defund the Police
As the nation erupted in response to state-sanctioned violence in summer 2020 on the heels of police murders of countless Black people, we were proud that many TLC staff led actions and bail fund efforts in their local areas.
As an organization, TLC called for LGBTQIA+ groups throughout the U.S. to deepen their support of Black lives by joining the widespread movement to defund the police and invest in communities.
TLC also convened a teach-in on defunding the police in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives, Southerners on New Ground, and Freedom, Inc. for 172 organizations, ensuring that racial justice remains a guiding principle at the forefront of the national LGBTQIA+ movement.
Youth Leaders Center Hope
In March 2020 we collaborated with our partner GSA Network to expand TLC’s Gender Justice Leadership Programs (GJLP) to better engage, support, and develop trans youth leaders across the U.S. In an era when state bills are targeting trans youth access to healthcare and participation in sports, trans youth leaders in our leadership programs are uniquely positioned to make sure that trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth have a meaningful voice in public debates that affect them.
We supported TRUTH Program youth leaders through virtual trainings, individual coaching, and online organizing for the annual “Day 4 Gender Justice” in November 2020, with a focus on abolition issues and providing a safe space for youth leaders to decompress in the wake of the election. We also launched a pilot cohort of Roses, a new leadership initiative for trans girls of color to promote intergenerational organizing with the National TGNC Coalition.
GJLP youth leaders have been clear that centering hope continues to be critical, so TLC worked with them to create a loving and affirming series of messages to share on social media including #LoveLettersToTransPeople. In response to the stresses TGNC youth experience because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been providing enhanced mental health and wellness support through our collaboration with the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network and by sending care packages to support self-care.
The power and resilience of trans and nonbinary young people are also captured in GJLP’s spring community legislative report-back, “No Pride Without Trans Youth; What we Saw, Felt and Learned this Legislative Session.”
Disability Project Builds Power and Visibility
The Disability Project continued to expand this year by building out the Community Advisory Board. The Project is dedicated to magnifying the leadership, work and lives of disabled, trans and queer, BIPOC people.
To that end, before the onset of COVID, the Disability Project focused on bringing together primarily disabled BIPOC activists from across the country for the first Community Advisory Board in-person gathering. At the gathering, Community Advisory Board members got to be in community while doing strategic planning and dreaming for the overall goals of the Project, steeped in disability justice, racial justice, cross-disability and cross-class struggle.
Members of the Community Advisory Board participated in several social media events, amplifying the lived realities of disabled people. This included an Instagram takeover of Amy Poheler’s “Smart Girls” page for a week of live conversations around abolition, combating anti-Black racism and white supremacy, and ending ableism. Additionally, the Disability Project secured a major grant that allows for the Project to more solidly ground in multi-racial leadership in the future, and will allow the Disability Project to expand capacity to reach more community.
Chinyere Ezie, Chair
Evelyn Rios Stafford, Vice-Chair
cori schmanke parrish, Treasurer
Brielle Darynn, Vice-Treasurer
Ana Conner, Interim Secretary
Sunu P. Chandy
Mat dos Santos
Louis Porter II, Ed.D.
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We love all TLC Donors and Supporters! Check out a full listing of all 14,000 TLC donors in 2020.