Friday, June 30, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Transgender Law Center

As Pride Month comes to a close this year, we’re wrapping it up with a spotlight on Transgender Law Center.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in California, Transgender Law Center (TLC) is “the largest national trans-led organization advocating for self-determination for all people.” The work they do “changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.” Watch this 5-minute overview video, We Win Together, to hear from participants, or keep reading to learn more.

Guided by the Trans Agenda for Liberation, the legal work done by TLC focuses on several areas. The Impact Litigation team uses lawsuits and advocacy to fight the criminalization of trans lives, the Legal Services Project shares legal information and resources to equip trans people to assert their rights, and Border Butterflies provide legal and humanitarian support to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border

Additional programs include: Black Trans Circles, healing justice spaces for Black trans women in the South and Midwest; Positively Trans, a group that addresses inequities, stigma and discrimination of those living with HIV; the Gender Justice Leadership Project, a youth leadership and storytelling program; and the Disability Project, a program that magnifies the leadership, collective power and visibility of trans and queer disabled communities.

In addition to all the programming, TLC runs a Legal Information Helpdesk, which provides basic information “across many areas, including employment, health care, housing, civil rights, immigration, prisoners’ rights, and identity document changes.” The website also has resources grouped by issue area such as health, housing or employment.

The most recent annual report shows the impact this work is having. In 2021, TLC responded to more than 1200 Helpdesk requests, provided over 98,000 website visitors with legal resources, litigated 9 impact cases, filed 19 amicus briefs and trained 495 transgender actives and allies.

If you’d like to help TLC increase their impact this year, there are many ways to do so. Attorneys can volunteer as part of the Attorney Solidarity Network to provide legal advice or representation to trans people in their area. The rest of us can make a donation and spread the word on social media. Follow Transgender Law Center on Facebook, on Twitter @TransLawCenter and on Instagram @translawcenter.

Friday, June 23, 2023

The Fresh Air Fund

Summer has started and today’s Feel Good Friday organization has nothing to do with Terry Gross and everything to do with summer activities in New York. Time to learn more about The Fresh Air Fund.

Founded in 1877, yes 146 years ago, The Fresh Air Fund “has provided free life-changing summer experiences in the outdoors to more than 1.8 million children from New York City’s underserved communities.” This 4-minute video, The Power of Fun, gives a great overview of the organization.

The people behind Fresh Air believe that a summer filled with new experiences and new friends can be transformative to the children who participate. Given that 96% of families who participate in the summer programs would recommend them to friends and family, it seems they’re right.

Fresh Air runs several programs for children ages 8 to 18. Sleepaway camps, located on Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, New York, give campers the opportunity to learn to swim, hike wooded trails, and learn about the environment while they explore the outdoors. Participants make new friends, learn new skills and return home with more confidence.

The Friendly Towns program matches children from New York City with volunteer host families who live in small towns, suburban and rural communities along the East Coast. The participants stay with the host families for a week to experience summer activities in different places and gain new perspectives. Many children return to the same family each summer.

There are also enrichment programs offered year-round that provide students with career awareness, support them in applying to and graduating from college, as well as empowerment programs for young women and men. Finally, the website has a page of resources on topics such as health, education, activities for kids, Fresh Air at home activities, Black Lives Matter, and issues relevant to the AAPI community.

If all this talk of summer has made you want to put on some shorts and support The Fresh Air Fund, there are many ways to do so. If you live on the East Coast you can volunteer your time. No matter where you are you can make a donation and spread the word on social media. Follow Fresh Air on Facebook, on Twitter @FreshAirFund and on Instagram @thefreshairfund.


Friday, June 16, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Strong Family Alliance

With Father’s Day fast approaching and Pride Month ongoing, it’s time to highlight an organization that provides support to both fathers and mothers of LGBTQ+ children, Strong Family Alliance.

Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Strong Family Alliance (SFA) is a non-profit organization focused on supporting parents of children in the LGBTQ+ community. Their mission is “to save lives and preserve families by helping children come out and parents become informed supporters and allies.”

The reason to create an organization focused on parents stems from these statistics: LGBTQ+ children who are rejected by their families are 8 times more likely to report suicide attempts, 6 times more likely to report higher levels of depression, 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3 times more likely to be homeless. 

The people behind Strong Family Alliance consider themselves first responders because they target parents who haven’t decided whether or not to accept their child in the initial days after their child comes out. SFA provides parents with non-political, research-based information as a way to help build understanding and strong relationships between parents and their LGBTQ+ children.

There are two downloadable guides on the website. One is focused on LGBQ youth, the other addresses issues specific to transgender youth. Both guides have three sections. Basic information includes vocabulary, myths that stigmatize LGBTQ+ people, risks for your child and the journey for parents. Ways to support your child includes actions that can help (keep talking and listening to your child), actions that can hurt (telling your child it’s just a phase) and tips to build your child’s self esteem. Challenges ahead provides information on managing emotions, telling others and becoming an ally.

The website also has a page of resources, including information for children on coming out to your parents, and stories from parents describing their experiences. Parents with a story to share can do that here: share your parent story.

If the story of Strong Family Alliance has inspired you to support them, you can do so by making a donation and amplifying their message on social media. Follow Strong Family Alliance on Facebook, on Twitter @sfamilyalliance and on Instagram @sfamilyalliance. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Kaleidoscope Trust

In today’s Pride-themed Feel Good Friday, we take a trip across the pond to highlight the UK-based charity, Kaleidoscope Trust.

Founded in 2011 and based in London, the vision of Kaleidoscope Trust is “a world where LGBTI+ people everywhere are free to be themselves and one in which no LGBTI+ person is left behind in the fight for freedom, safety and equality.”

The inspiration to create Kaleidoscope Trust is explained on the website. “Much of the persecution, discrimination and violence faced by LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth originates from the United Kingdom's colonial exploits. Alongside British cultural attitudes and mores, Britain exported homophobic laws that penalised those who lived and loved outside of established British societal norms.” With 35 of the 56 Commonwealth member states still criminalizing same-sex intimacy, Kaleidoscope Trust is working to uphold the human rights of LGBT+ people around the world.

Their work is divided into several areas: advocacy to spread awareness of LGBT+ rights across the Commonwealth and around the globe; funding and capacity building for organizations defending human rights; strengthening movements by connecting organizations with similar goals to each other and by connecting grassroots organizers with politicians and decision makers; and research that helps shape their advocacy and program design.

You can explore the Kaleidoscope Trust website to read more about specific research topics such as "Mental Health in LGBT+ Communities Across the Commonwealth”, “The Economic Cost of LGBT+ Exclusion” or “An Intersectional Approach to Policy making". While Kaleidoscope Trust doesn’t provide direct support to individuals, they do share a list of recommended organizations that can provide assistance. 

If you’d like to support Kaleidoscope Trust during Pride month, or any other time of year, you can do so by volunteering, making a donation and amplifying their message on social media. Follow Kaleidoscope Trust on Facebook, on Twitter @Kaleidoscope_T and on Instagram @kaleidoscope_t. #FreeSafeEqual

Friday, June 2, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Pride at Work

Pride Month has begun and we’re kicking it off by highlighting an organization that represents LGBTQ+ union members and their allies, Pride at Work.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Washington D.C., Pride at Work is a nonprofit organization that “organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBTQ Community to further social and economic justice.” Or as someone nicely summarized in this 5-minute introductory video, “it is the LGBTQ arm of the Labor Movement, it is the labor arm of the LGBTQ movement.”

With “nearly half (48.8%) of transgender employees reporting experiencing discrimination (being fired or not hired) based on their LGBTQ+ status” and companies using religious exemptions to circumvent civil rights laws, Pride at Work believes that “the strongest protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer working people is an inclusive union contract.” 

Examples of the issues they work to get addressed in union contracts and policies include workplace discrimination, religious exemptions, transgender working people, and bathroom access. In the resources section of their website, they provide model contract language that can be used when bargaining for a new contract. 

The resource section also has materials to educate union members and leaders so they can discuss LGBTQ+ issues effectively. There is an explanation of gender pronouns and recommendations on how to be more inclusive, for example addressing people in a meeting as “labor siblings” instead of “Sisters and Brothers”. There is also an LGBTQ+ 101 guide that provides basic definitions of terms and clarifies the difference between gender, gender identity and biological sex. Useful for anyone who wants a better understanding whether or not they are a union member.

If you’d like to get involved with Pride at Work, you can do so on a local level. With over 20 chapters across the country, there’s a good chance you’ll find one near you. To support them on a national level, you can shop for merch, make a donation and help raise awareness on social media. Like the Pride at Work Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @PrideatWork #1upride