#GivingTuesday – Be a Hero for Trans Survivors


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We don’t have to tell you: the past three years have been extremely difficult for transgender/non-binary people, loved ones, and allies.  Protections continue to be dismantled; violence and insults have increased; and the trans community feels exhausted and scared.

At the same time, FORGE – the nation’s leading transgender anti-violence organization – has not been able to increase its services and advocacy.  In fact, we’ve been closed out of federal grants we used to depend on, and our federal reimbursements are running up to a year behind.

Despite these setbacks, in the past year alone, FORGE has racked up tremendous achievements.

Nationally:

  • Trained 1,857 victim service providers in 9 states (plus several national conferences/trainings).
  • Provided technical assistance (detailed advice, referrals, or relevant resources) to 4,316 victim service providers.
  • Presented and recorded 16 training webinars to increase providers’ cultural competence and knowledge.
  • Sponsored a trans mini-track series at the National Sexual Assault Conference (as well as presented workshops at 13 other conferences).
  • Supported and advocated for 561 trans/non-binary survivors of violence and loved ones.
  • Engaged and supported survivors (and took some amazing Espavo photos) with hundreds of people at Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference.

Locally:

  • Helped Milwaukee achieve a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, by helping the city pass a conversion therapy ban, appoint LGBTQ+ liaisons for both the police and the Mayor’s office, and finalize a Milwaukee Police Department Standard Operating Procedure mandating respectful treatment of trans+ individuals.
  • Provided direct support to nearly 200 trans/non-binary individuals in Wisconsin through case management; connection to resources; referrals to trans-knowledgeable providers; assistance applying for BadgerCare, FoodShare and other public benefits; education about legal rights; assistance with legal name and gender marker changes, accompaniment to appointments with providers; individual advocacy with medical providers and insurance carriers; counseling by trained peer advocates; and listening to, supporting, and advocating for survivors of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Surveyed 517 and counting community members about their needs and desires for support and services.
  • Added 36 new primary care providers and 73 new mental health providers to our Wisconsin databases. (If you are a provider and want to be added to our resource directory, please follow these links: physical health care providers and mental health care providers.)
  • Continued helping to resolve problems and finding resources for families of trans/non-binary children and youth through our 6-year-old parents support group.
  • Provided extensive training to numerous social service agencies in the Milwaukee area, including the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division Community Access to Recovery Services, Meta House, and many others, to improve services to trans/non-binary individuals.

Breaking new ground:

  • Created a comprehensive Transgender in Wisconsin Guide to help trans/non-binary people and advocates navigate Wisconsin-specific legal, health, and mental health systems.
  • Created a suite of resources for trans/non-binary workers who may experience harassment at work.
  • Drafted a collection of materials which explore how LGBTQ health and violence disparities start in childhood, and what individuals can do to help. (White paper still in press; recorded webinar available at our website.)
  • Drafted a set of resources for law enforcement agencies and community advocates who want to improve relationships between law enforcement and LGBTQ+ communities (print documents in press; two recorded webinars).
  • Produced a groundbreaking webinar on bisexuals and victimization.

Because of the funding cuts and delays, FORGE is looking at a budget deficit in 2020.  Even more importantly, current political and social conditions are such that we need to step up our efforts in areas that are not permitted under our existing federal funding.  These include:

Policy work.

Federal protections continue to be withdrawn and new “religious freedom” policies permitting taxpayer-funded discrimination continue to be enacted.  Both of these are not only rolling back rights, they are also causing new trauma and health problems among trans/non-binary individuals and families who are attempting  to cope with these attacks.  Although FORGE is already doing policy work, much more needs to be done on the federal, state, and local levels. Due to current funding restrictions, we need additional unrestricted funds (your donations!) to do so.

Improve and innovate service provision. 

In 2020, both to help mobilize a constituency to help with the policy work and to spark improvements in Milwaukee’s sexual assault and intimate partner violence service system, FORGE will be inaugurating WiTEACH: Wisconsin Transgender Education and Advocacy Coalition for Healing.  WiTEACH will be a coalition of service providers, advocates, and trans/non-binary community members designed to build relationships and engage in ongoing education and advocacy.  FORGE’s grant funding will support staff costs, but we are not able to fully support participants due to funding limitations around specific supplies and simple things like coffee and food for participants during long meetings.

Food. 

Speaking of food, we have noticed an increasing number of trans/non-binary individuals who attend out local events and do so primarily to access the light snacks we provide.  Many of these individuals are attending meetings and events to literally have a meal.  We suspect this is due to food insecurity as the economy (the real economy people LIVE in, vs. the stock market or other elusive economies) degrades.  Again, food is not permitted under our existing funding. We need donations to enable us to provide what amounts to a meal for some of the people we serve.

Sexual harassment of trans/non-binary workers.

We are grateful to the Time’s Up! Legal Defense Fund for a one-time grant to produce trans-specific materials about workers’ rights to be free from harassment.  Unfortunately, our current funding does not permit us to promote or train around these critical issues, and we are severely limited in supporting survivors of workplace sexual harassment. 

How can you help? 

#GivingTuesday is December 3, 2019.  If you give through Facebook, Facebook is matching the first $7 million in donations.  (Act early!  Match starts at 7:00am Central time and will end quickly!)  We also gladly accept donations through our secure Paypal portal, or (if you are one of us “legacy” people!) we welcome a check sent to FORGE @ PO Box 1272, Milwaukee, WI 53201.

If you are unable to make a financial donation, please consider forwarding this email to others you know who want to do something about the epidemic of violence and discrimination affecting the trans/non-binary community.

We are grateful for your support!