Despite Progress, Arcus Keeps Focus on Trans Equality

The folks at Arcus are keenly attuned to the challenges trans Americans face when trying to complete basic tasks such as vote, retain employment and even board airplanes. For more than a decade, the foundation has been funding grassroots efforts to overturn employment, housing and credit discrimination so that trans Americans can earn a living and provide for their families like everyone else. And while the foundation’s work to improve the lives of trans Americans received a major boost from President Obama last month when he signed the executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, Arcus knows the work is far from finished.

That’s why Arcus just announced it is renewing a $200,000 multi-year commitment to the Transgender Law Center (TLC). The Center is working on a number of challenges, such as ensuring that new restrictive voter identification laws don’t deny trans Americans the right to vote, ensuring that trans Americans can access much needed homeless shelters and healthcare, and that families with trans immigrants aren’t torn apart by deportations.

In the past year alone, TLC has successfully helped change California’s birth certificate and name change laws making it easier for trans Californians to obtain accurate and consistent identity documents by submitting a form and a doctor’s letter directly to the state Department of Public Health along with a $23 fee. 

As well, Arcus teamed up with Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund with a $125,000 grant to support the Forty to None project, the first national program solely focused on youth homelessness and its impact on LGBT young people. It’s estimated that between 500,000 and 1.6. million youth are homeless each year and that up to 40 percent of these young people identify as gay or transgender.

With Arcus’ help, the project hopes to “bring an end to this epidemic, and reduce the disproportionate percentage of gay and transgender youth who are homeless from 40% to none.”

And it’s not just here in the U.S. either.  Arcus remains keenly aware of the challenges trans people face globally as well. Violence against trans people internationally remains a key issue for which there remains a vacuum of information. As part of its international human rights initiative, which invests in policy and cultural changes, Arcus is supporting advocacy trainings in Asia and an interfaith pre-conference at the Mexico’s International Gay and Lesbian Association World Conference for the development of a transgender program.