Crowdfunding Economic Stability

By Latonya Pennington

Art by Jenn Solo

Art by Jenn Solo

For transgender, femme, and disabled people, 2017 has proven to be a difficult one so far. Our current administration has banned transgender soldiers from military service and threatened health care coverage. In addition to this, many transgender women, especially women of color, have been murdered. When you combine all of this with attempts to exclude transgender, femme, and disabled individuals, it is clear that more needs to be done.

With J. Skyler's crowdfunding campaign #TransCrowdFund and its offshoots #DisabledCrowdFund and #FemCrowdFund, attempts are made to rectify the economic violence experienced by marginalized identities, especially Black women. J. Skyler, a Black trans woman, originally set up the campaign on the site You Caring as a personal emergency fund after there were changes at her job. When J.Skyler realized financial issues weren't affecting them alone, they created the #TransCrowdFund tag.

Through the hashtag #TransCrowdFund, transgender people can ask for financial assistance with their personal expenses and bills by providing personal links to crowd funding sites. This campaign has given hundreds of transgender individuals a platform to receive the money they need to survive. A few dollars given to #TransCrowdFund can get a trans person something as basic as food or expensive items like medication.

As an extension of #TransCrowdFund, the #DisabledCrowdFund and #FemCrowdFund takes an intersectional approach to acknowledge those with overlapping identities. Of these two hashtags, #DisabledCrowdFund is especially important, since disabled cis-het Black women and disabled queer and trans Black women are some of the most vulnerable communities. 

If a disabled Black woman were to have a mental health crisis, she cannot call for emergency help because she risks being killed by the police like Charleena Lyles was. On top of that, disabled Black queer trans women are often ignored by both queer communities as well as cis-het communities due to ableism, classism, homophobia, and transphobia. As a result, they must find alternative resources for financial and medical assistance such as #DisabledCrowdFund.

Meanwhile, #FemCrowdFund aims to help cis, trans, and intersex women receive monetary reparations. In addition to having their personal lives at risk, Black women also face inequality in the workplace. According to the National Women's Law Center, Black women make only sixty three cents for every dollar white men make and experience a wage gap whether they work in low wage or high wage jobs. 

Moreover, Black trans women who must turn to sex work to survive face even more obstacles. In a 2015 study, Trans Equality reported that 69.3 percent of sex workers were denied a job or fired from traditional employment because of their gender identity. In addition, transgender sex workers have higher rates of extreme poverty, homelessness, and lack of access to health care. 

Of course, even crowdfunding allows more privileges for some more than others. White cis-het people tend to get more attention for their crowdfunding campaigns than QTPOC unless you have a large following, a strong online presence, and a lot of news coverage. It is crucial that we support crowdfunding campaigns for those with marginalized identities, because groups like Black disabled transgender women have to work harder than everyone else just to survive the day.

By supporting J. Skyler's crowdfunding campaign #TransCrowdFund, #FemCrowdFund, and #DisabledCrowdfund, we can help Black, disabled, and transgender women with living costs that they can't pay for by themselves. From threats of physical violence to mental illness, there is already a physical, mental, and emotional toll that they pay to live. With economic stability provided by crowdfunding, the cost of living can be lowered so that the marginalized can survive and thrive.

Latonya Pennington is a queer non-binary freelance writer and creative. They have written articles for Wear Your Voice magazine, PRIDE, Black Girl Dangerous and more. Keep up with their work and support them on Twitter and on their Patreon page.