by Brodie Gress
Two local Louisvillle non-profits have teamed up to launch the Black Trans Relief Direct Person Fund, an initiative to directly donate money to Black trans, non-binary, and non-conforming people in need.
Applicants in need can go to their website and fill out a form asking for their name, background, amount of cash needed (up to $300), and social media handles. Once finished, the nonprofit will contact the applicant and provide the requested money, no strings attached.
The effort is driven by Change Today, Change Tomorrow (CTCT), a nonprofit helping uplift Louisville’s Black community, in collaboration with Diversity at the Table (DATT), a community organization educating Louisville on intersectionality and social justice. Both groups are helmed by boards of mostly Black women.
Talesha Wilson, DATT’s director and the Director of Community Engagement for CTCT, states the effort was designed to provide relief during this year. While no one has escaped the pandemic’s harm, marginalized people have been hurt on a larger scale. Black people have also driven America to reckon with its systemic racism, particularly police practices that have ended lives such as Breonna Taylor’s.
People of gender minorities also face discrimination in multiple ways. In healthcare, trans, non-binary, and non-conforming patients often deal with medical professionals unaware of or even resistant to their needs. Many struggle to access gender-affirming treatments like hormone therapy. Trans people of color face higher national rates of violence and mental health problems on average.
“Intersectionality is so important,” Wilson stated. “When we say Black, we think of Black men. When we say women, we think of white women. People struggle to think of multiple issues at once. Black trans, non-binary, and non-conforming folx think of that all the time.”
The relief fund is based not on patronizing but empowering marginalized people. Before beginning it, Wilson and her fellow board members met with Black folx of gender minorities and asked them what they needed.
“We invited them into a space and told them when we give money, we give it without restrictions,” she said. “If you need money and I ask you for the receipts, that’s just more draining for you.”
The money can be used for anything from diapers and food to makeup and alcohol. While some might call the latter extravagance or enabling, Wilson believes that isn’t anyone’s call to make but the recipient’s.
“You have a razor that’s $14, you gotta buy a new one every month. That’s expensive,” she said. “This could be crucial to your gender expression. You need quality makeup. Bobbi Brown, Mary Kay, Colourpop. Those are important so you can exist in the way that’s comfortable for you. It’s not fair for cis people to control that.”
Wilson called on other aid organizations to step in and offer similar empowerment for the people they claim to help.
“Other boards think they can give folx hand-me-downs. People deserve new clothes, new things,” she said. “We don’t need to know the details of what they do with that money.”
DATT also funds educational workshops, events, and activities for the community, such as book drives for elementary school students. Change Today, Change Tomorrow has efforts to feed unhoused communities and give bleach or cleaning services to those at risk for COVID-19.