Our hopes, our visions, our pathways will continue to lead us.
In these times of great difficulty TJFP is so honored to guided and carried by so many of you.
“Sharing space with the other grantmaking fellows and hearing from people from rural Montana to communities in Hawaii helped to open my mind about how differently the work looks for people in different areas. Sometimes when you’re on the ground, it is easy to lose that perspective, and instead think, “This is what’s working for me and my girls in Detroit, so it should work for everyone, right?” But, no, it doesn’t always work like that. So when an application came in from a rural part of the country, it was important to hear from someone from that community. These conversations really helped me be more strategic and forward-thinking about who we were supporting and funding.” -Bré Anne Rivera
Each year we invite our talented Fellows to share their thoughts and experiences as grantmaking panelists in our “Letters From the Table” section of our annual report. Last year fall we were fortunate enough to get a chance to sit down with 2018 TJFP Fellow, Bré Anne Rivera to gain a better understanding of her experience reviewing over 200 applications and selecting grantees through a community-led process.
In her interview Bré bravely spoke from the heart, candidly sharing powerful reflections and recommendations for the funding world that we hope will resinate with you whether you’re a grassroots organizer, a funder or someone interested in trans justice and liberation.
Please check out this remarkable interview, Lessons on Being Bold!
A very warm welcome to TJFP’s second 2017 Community Grantmaking Fellow, Wriply Marie Bennet.
Wriply Marie Bennet is a painter and illustrator, born and raised in Ohio. She uses her art to uplift her sisters in the black lives/ black transgender lives movement. She works in ink, watercolor and other mediums, and her art comes from an untrained perspective. She never aspired to attend college to study art, and there are no degrees to speak of other than a high school diploma. Her art is proudly self-taught. Her organizing work started with the Trans Women of Color Coalition, and she has been an activist since Ferguson, where she was a freedom rider traveling to stand with the family and community of Mike Brown. Wriply’s work expresses the power, strength, and resilience that trans women of color have to persevere, and the grace and beauty of her culture. Her work uplifts the young black trans women we’ve lost and continue to lose every year, and sheds light on the fact that there has been no national outcry. Wriply’s art has been used in countless social justice flyers, and in November will be making its first film debut in MAJOR!, a documentary at the 2015 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. Wriply is much more than a visual artist; she’s also a singer/song writer, actor, screenplay writer, story teller, cartoonist, and fashion designer. She continues to work and fight for justice! For art will travel.
In 2014, TJFP interviewed her about the work of Trans Individuals Living Their Truth (TILTT).
The interviewer writes, “TILTT is dedicated to creating visibility. For the first time, they were able to represent and participate in Atlanta Pride by having their own booth at the festival. Ms. Cheryl used some of the TJFP funds to make TILTT their very first banner which they marched proudly with in the Trans March. For many members it was their first time being in a pride march. She proudly told me, “At the end of the two days, I felt like we really accomplished something and that it was critical that we were there.”
Ms. Cheryl’s vision and boldness is a gift to us all and it was absolutely critical that she was here. We survive because of her and TJFP will forever hold Ms. Cheryl in our hearts.
TJFP’s annual report is ready and waiting for you!
In 2015, our community grant making panel gave out 85 grants to trans-led, grassroots groups focused on trans justice. The panel prioritized supporting groups led by trans women of color at the highest level. Learn more about these amazing trans justice groups, TJFP’s latest funding structure update, and reflections from one of our amazing 2015 community funding panelists.
TJFP volunteer Rebecca Wisotsky chatted over the phone with our 2014 grantees to learn more about what their year has been like organizing their communities, providing public education and services, and working towards trans justice. Our grantees generously took the time to share their stories, including their success and challenges. Come meet some of our incredibly dedicated and inspiring grantees from across the country!
“I’m inspired everyday.” This is what Wes Ware, the Director of BreakOUT! said when I asked him to tell me about a time he was inspired by their work of. Really? Every day?! Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe I’m burnt out. Maybe I’m exhausted by the struggle and need a nap. But, in that moment, I couldn’t imagine being inspired every day. So I pressed Wes for more information. How is that possible?
BreakOUT! builds the power of LGBTQ youth ages 13-25 who are directly impacted by the criminal justice system through youth organizing, healing justice, and leadership development programs. Wes broke down the realities for trans youth in New Orleans for me. “The majority of BreakOUT! members are trans young women who are black, involved in street economies, and struggling with jobs and family life. Beyond every day being a struggle, they still continue to come to BreakOUT! and do work on behalf of their entire community. The struggle is real.” These members’ investment in the organization’s work is a testament to their resilience. I was starting to understand where Wes’s daily inspiration came from.
The struggle is real. Brought together by their shared experiences with injustice and oppression, the members of BreakOUT! have built a deep connection with each other. But Wes also wanted to make sure that this connection is not romanticized. “BreakOUT! feels like family,” he explained. And with family comes both beautiful moments and challenges.
One beautiful moment was the recent release of their “We Deserve Better” report. BreakOUT! wants to make sure that trans youth of color’s stories are uplifted in this recent report and that their youth members are consistently reminded of their rich legacy of struggle against injustice. They are also educating the general public about the long history of queer and trans people of color organizing and seeking to end discriminatory policing practices, particularly for black transgender young women in New Orleans. As the mainstream TV cameras once again disappear, BreakOUT! and many other grassroots communities know that the story of racial profiling, militarizing of police forces, and unjust court proceedings continue for black, brown, low income, immigrant, youth, and queer people. Our communities’ cameras have not turned off. Our realities continue.
BreakOUT! remembers that many people who have been murdered by the New Orleans police never had a day in court. They wrestle with the fact that so many black and brown trans women are murdered by the state and that their lives are going unnoticed. This hard reality fuels the fire that keeps members organizing. BreakOUT! sees this particular political moment as an opportunity to educate allies about how and why we ended up here and what steps they can take, even after the public rally ends. This is a moment for us all to be politicized, re-politicized, question everything, and create collaborations and strategies.
The struggle is real and small, underfunded trans and queer youth of color groups like BreakOUT! are leading the way. Learn more about how they are doing it at www.youthbreakout.org.
Rebecca Wisotsky, a queer, Puerto Rican Jew from New Mexico, with New Yorkers for parents, has been working towards social justice since she was first able to say “justicia.”
“The recent, tragic uptick in murders of trans women of color seems to be finally drawing the attention outside trans circles. Simply caring is sadly not enough, though. A Facebook status about how awful the violence is won’t actually make the world a better place. But there are real, practical actions you can take.”
Read more of what author and co-executive director of Feministing, Jos Truitt has to say in her article, Taking Action Against Anti-Trans Violence by Supporting Vital Services and Organizations.
Thanks Jos for encouraging people to support all of these critical groups and organizations as well as the Trans Justice Funding Project directory!
It’s hot off the press and waiting just for you! The 2014 Trans Justice Funding Project report is FULL of information about our awesome grantees, a directory of trans justice groups from across the U.S., articles about trans women of color leadership and disability justice in philanthropy, a Grassroots Theory of Funding, updates on our unique structure and so much more. You’ll want to read it, cover to cover. Please share widely.
Safety and violence, “quality of life” laws, homeless lgbt youth and so much more.
This article highlights several issues our communities are experiencing and working on everyday. Also, great shout outs to our friends at Southerners on New Ground and FIERCE!