New Year and a New Question
I know, I have been absent from the Internet (mostly) for the past month. A combination of huge piles of work, Christmas gifts to buy, a break-up to get over, and generally tired of dealing with the terminal stupid of cis people on the Internet wrt trans stuff. I also realized that I was spending way more time online than going out and hanging with my friends.
I have been keeping up on things, but growing increasingly tired of just getting angry and venting. I used to actually – you know – DO THINGS that I thought made a positive impact in the world. Volunteering for GLBT youth programs, Doing security at women’s health clinics, staffing phone banks for anyone who needed my time. I probably did way to much actually, since I burned out a couple years ago and the idea of putting myself “out there” like that doesn’t seem much fun. There is a story there for another day – suffice to say that “progressive” does NOT mean trans-friendly.
Anyway, I have been working on an idea for a non-profit organization with two friends. It’s still in the planning stages, but it’s solid. We are trying to form a group that will provide basic computer/office/phone training for women (cis and trans) who have been released from prison. We have a business in the call center industry willing to hire the women and pay us a “finder’s fee”. Because of the job placement, we won’t be able to accept women convicted of either violent crimes or fraud. However, this targets the groups with the highest re-offending rate – prostitution and drugs (often both). the ultimate goal will be to replace the three of us with our graduates as the instructors, staff, and finally directors – this should be a group run by the population it serves. The three of us will take on an advisory role, and step in if asked to assist with fund raising/grant writing/ etc.
This has been by focus for a few months, but it’s recently become more “real” as we have started writing a charter and looking seriously at getting some funding from the state. The last part is tough, since the economic climate isn’t conducive to government largess. I do remain hopeful.
I have also been kicking around another idea. I read many blogs and have quite a few ( at least more than I expected) trans friends on Twitter as well as folks I know offline. One thing that I have noticed often is that the folks I’m talking to/reading/spending time with are in near crisis situations financially. I’m talking women needing to choose between medicines and food, de-transition to find work (and probably die) or maintain transitioning and lose their apartments, stay in an abusive relationship or be homeless. These are some of the economic tolls faced by many trans women. We are un/under employed and basic social services fail to safely accommodate us.
I’m lucky. I have a job and I’m JUST making it – JUST. I also just got news that I’ll be transferred to a different department with no guarantee that my pay will remain the same (if it changes it won’t go up) so my “just making it” status may become “barely making it” by next month. One of the reasons for my absence was that I started to feel helpless – and I HATE that feeling. Then I read Questioning Transphobia and a post by little light. I’m not linking to the post because it’s been locked due to some jerks being insulting and fear for the subject of the post and her friends and family. Suffice to say, the resulting call to action and action actually being taken kicked me in the panties and I decided to do something on my own. I’m involved a little (and soon to be more) with the project being developed there, but I want to do more for the people I know and respect.
The thing is… I don’t know what to do. I first thought is to add a PayPal Donation link and set up a fund to pass out to the trans people who need it. But I’m not sure how effective that will be or even if it’s a good idea. I’m asking for input from anyone who wants to give it. So, do you think a donation link would do any good, can you think of a more effective way to help the people who need it?