When GLBT Nonprofits Lose Their Bearings

Photo by Gustavo Frazao/Bigstock.com

Tax-deductible nonprofit organizations can invade the pocketbooks and psyches of potential donors, cravenly preying on their fears. When the same-sex marriage movement became a brilliant success, GLBT nonprofit organizations were sucker-punched with a stark existential reality: the biggest battle had been won. So now what?

One would have thought they would recognize that there was still no federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act to stand firmly against job discrimination so that queer individuals could ward off homophobic work practices, solidify job security for same-sex married couples, and strengthen the financial health of GLBT communities. Not to mention that it would have likely met with rural/small town support more so than marriage equality did. Moreover, since 2007 the ENDA was expanded to include gender identity protections. An ideal starting point to introduce the concept of transgenderism.

It took decades for the masses to think reasonably about male homosexuality, lesbianism, and bisexuality. But transgenderism is totally different from sexual orientation. Not only is the general public uneducated in trans concepts, but the trans movement itself has yet to create a concerted, coherent, and patient campaign. To begin with, transgender is a different thing to different people, within trans communities and beyond them. Too often activists resort to scolding and shaming when a pronoun is innocently misspoken or a question or glance is presumed to be a microaggression. Not good PR, folks.

President Obama didn’t even support same-sex marriage until just over five years ago. But he sure got religion about transgenderism in the past year! One of his 2016 executive orders is a questionably crafted item regarding trans toilet facility usage. It was apparent immediately that the ramifications of this had not been thought through. Worse still, GLBT nonprofits, in typical form, rather than inform the GLBT community on how to discuss this incendiary issue, sounded the alarm, triggering GLBT fears, as they cried out for and reeled in money.

After all, nonprofits need to profit inexorably in order to survive and the GLBT community is stereotyped as having deep pockets. This has led to what may be among the most cynical moves in nonprofit history: telling lies about transgender suicides that could not be proved and doing so when the nation seems to be in social upheaval. Such efforts can insidiously plant the ideation and the idealization of suicide in vulnerable minds. This also hurls us back into a darker age when queerness was equated with mental instability.

32 Responses to When GLBT Nonprofits Lose Their Bearings

  1. Ethan says:

    Wow, what a piece of trash opiniin piece masquerading as an article. Get your cis bullshit outta here. “Transgenderism” ISNT EVEN A WORD. How the HELL did this get published?? You have the audacity to scold non-profits while you ad mongers hound queers with heteronormative capitalism?!?! This “article” is morbidly misinformed and speaks volumes to who holds power at Lavender. CIS GAY CAPTIALISTS. Fuck y’all! This transguy has had enough of your bullshit rag of a tabloid. Absolutely disgusting!

  2. Scottie Bradford says:

    Not only does this article read as an apology for transphobia (and in fact an attack on trans communities), but it outright dwmonizes the work of non-profit organizations who work with our communities most vulnerable. People donate money to orgs, this is not the same as insinuating that lgbtq non profits prey upon the fears of ignorant people to nefariously support their work. Shame on you Lavender Magazine. Shame on you for repeatedly holding a particular type of gayness on a pedastle and shame on you for seeking to deepen fractures in our community under the guise of critique and responsible consumerism.

  3. Tristan says:

    Ah yes. Using fear-mongering and lying about suicide rates to get money. That’s what we trans folks do. Just telling you how we feel and what we need to force you into supporting us. Jesus, do better, Lavender. I expected you to be more inclusive than just using our androgyny and makeup for an eye-catching cover photo. Gross.

  4. B says:

    Unbelievable. Lavender, you have done it yet again. How do you even call yourself an inclusive magazine when you publish pieces like this?

  5. Brityn says:

    This is disgusting. Clearly written by a cis-male gay man who has no idea what he is talking about. As Ethan mentioned, “transgenderism” is not even a word. Trans suicide is a real problem. You not only need to post an apology and retraction, but also get some actual information about the Trans community you are attempting to include in your trash.

  6. Garrett says:

    Wait why is this guy even talking right now? Who are you? What’s your point even?

  7. Ryan says:

    Wow, is this the onion? Get real. I cannot even begin to address all of the problematic BS in this shit show of an ‘article.’ Don’t publish this junk when the author clearly knows nothing of the content beyond their own misinformed take. Reads like a diary entry from someone in fear of no longer being the center of attention. No one is lying to you, you are lying to yourself.

  8. Pam says:

    I agree that this ‘article’ is a piece of trash. Transgender is an adjective not a syndrome. Disappointed in Lavender magazine.

  9. Lisa says:

    How did this even get past the managing editor? Maybe because she has no idea about the transgender community and as a cis female hoped the writer knew what he was talking about. How about understanding the real struggles that these folks face and writing from a place of compassion. One would think a magazine such as this would advocate for the LGBTQ community rather than try to divide it.

  10. Andrea says:

    Dear John and Lavender,

    So many questions. So much confusion. What exactly is the point of this article? Even after reading past the ignorant and ignore-ant statements I still cannot tell. Transgenderism-I mean really. Just the use of this word proves you don’t even know what you are talking about. Just because you haven’t taken the time to learn, Dear John, does not mean it doesn’t exist. I would suggest to look beyond your lavender bubble. It may be uncomfortable to shed your misconceptions, but that is what we are called to do.

    I am really shocked and saddened by this article. Lavender, is this hoe you want to represent yourself? Really? Honestly, I’m just a simple white rural cis woman and I have managed to be better educated and informed. I do have fear, but I promise it is not mongered by the fevered trans non-profit. It rises honestly out of the things I see akd read every day.

  11. Julie says:

    Wow, this couldn’t be more obvious as a hatchet piece toward the trans community if it had a blinking neon sign that read I HATE TRANS PEOPLE and bells and horns. Transgenderism? Really? Questioning the known facts about trans suidide rates? Mentioning the trans bathroom access issues as if they simply shouldn’t even be discussed?

    Why didn’t you just write the line ‘If only those uppity trannies would stay in their closets, we wouldn’t have to even think about them?’

    This so smacks of someone who willfully misgenders and mispronouns trans people and is miffed when they get dragged for it. “But I’m an ALLY!’ You cry. ‘How can I be your ally if you won’t be nice to me?’

    Because it’s about equity.

    It’s about fairness.

    And it’s about helping those without get the equity they deserve.

    But hey, you got your marriage equality, so we can just pound sand, right?

  12. Sassafras says:

    Now that gays and lesbians have a higher public profile and more political presence, now you want to drop the trans people who fought at your side since Stonewall. And now that some LGBT organizations are FINALLY starting to back trans people’s needs you want them to shut up. Shameful.

  13. Erica Kilian says:

    I’m dropping this publication faster than you can drop the “T.”

  14. T says:

    Due to this fuckwit, I’ll let any and all journalists and photojournalists from this publication know they are not welcome at any events I am a part of. I’ll make sure any and all entertainers I am friends with know what a trash heap this publication is and they will deny them access to their events as well.

    Transphobia will not be tolerated.

  15. Natalia says:

    This is despicable, should be removed and a sincere apology needs to be issued on behalf of Lavender for publishing such transphobic garbage on top atrocious, incoherent writing. Start by giving the space for trans people to speak on behalf of themselves, not publishing the rantings of someone who doesn´t even possess the knowledge or correct vocabulary to speak about trans issues. The main point of the author seems to be that trans folks need a better marketing campaign to prove that they are worthy of HUMAN RIGHTS?! And they need to be “patient”, too??!! No. No one needs to wait their turn or be burdened with respectability politics when demanding their civil and human rights. Period.

    This article is trash.

  16. James says:

    I don’t understand the point of this “article”. I’m using quotes here, because it reads far more as an opinion piece, than an article. What are you trying to get at, John? What is your point? My takeaway is that you don’t personally like the public media portrayal of trans* issues. I’d say keep your transphobic opinions to yourself, but I’d actually rather you do some listening and some learning and get rid of those opinions to begin with. I’m shocked that Lavender would even run this piece.

  17. Myrl Beam says:

    I’m left speechless. This article is so appalling, on at least two levels. The despicable and insulting anti-trans rhetoric (not just “transgenderism” – which isn’t a thing – but the idea that trans people are cravenly pretending to be oppressed in order to garner financial contributions) is one thing. But the writing?! Is there a thesis statement here somewhere? If one of my students wrote this they would get a D and an invitation to rewrite for a better grade, this time with some evidence to support these outlandish claims, and perhaps an actual thesis statement. Cite a source, for the love of jeebus! Also I think the author misunderstands how non-profits run. The first sentence had me smacking my head: “Tax deductible non-profits.” What? The organizations themselves are not tax deductible, they are tax exempt. Donations to them are tax deductible. Is there an editor in the house? Non profits do not have to “profit inexorably” – this is actually exactly what they DON’T do. They fundraise to cover the budget, and what little extra they get might go into a fund that covers those expenses in the case of a funding shortage, but there IS NO profit that lines the pockets of shareholders or some such. What a bunch of baseless, stupid, opinions pretending to be something other than someone’s ill-advised facebook rant. Hire an editor. Apologize for this trash.

  18. Claire A says:

    This is just awful. I want to say that I’m in shock, but the sad truth is that I am not at all shocked these days that Lavender would let this make it to print and online. Get it together!

  19. paul says:

    So… if only the LG (dropping the las two) were more patient, polite, didn’t protest loudly, didn’t exaggerate the effects of certain diseases, weren’t so shrill.

    They would have gotten their rights sooner?

    Cause really that’s where the reasoning of this article is going… hope that clears up why its such a poor opinion piece… idiots.

  20. Michaela says:

    This article has had me fuming all day. Directly claiming a large portion of the community is invalid is beyond acceptable. The transgender is under such huge attacks right now, we don’t need more from within the community. We wouldn’t have had our community if it wasn’t for transgender women likes of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson who were both there at Stonewall.

  21. Jennie says:

    Wow. I can’t even begin to unpack 98% of the disgusting, transphobic crap in this piece… I’ll focus on the one that made me utter expletives out loud.

    The use of the word ‘patient’ was gross enough on its own, but the italics truly elevated that single word to a level of awfulness that it is almost…impressive. Which says a lot, because I see a lot of transphobic BS on a daily basis.

    This “article” reads like a poorly written, disorganized letter to the editor. One that any decent editor should have responded to, denouncing almost the entire content of this letter. You know, if the editor actually gave a f*** about trans folx. Y’all should be ASHAMED of this.

    PS I see you there, tryna erase Q from this publication.

  22. Calla says:

    Transgender people are credited as some of the first organizers of the LGBT rights movement. Yet we are decades behind in terms of acceptance. One can’t help but think that it’s attitudes like this that have ultimately contributed to the the idea that trans people are some how less than. As far as proof of discrimination I should only have to point to this short inconcise article. statistics on trans people are notoriously hard to get besides. Trans people face so much violence and discrimination that they must hide. Our community will not survive if we give soap boxes the this kind of petty devisivness. John Townsend you may not need LGBT charities on your side, you may think that you don’t need trans people in your world or community and you may think that your not hurting anyone by writing this. You may also be wrong about that who has taught for your rights, Who sparked the movement that united queer people to rise up against oppression, and who reads this and feels as if they don’t belong here then where?

    It truly saddens me not just that a self mroclaimed Lgbt publication would choose to print such a thing but also that a member of this community would write this.

  23. Graeme M. says:

    Wow. I don’t work for a fundraising organization, but I don’t need them to tell me to be terrified. I can be terrified for legit reasons like federal legislation in the works to make sure that gender identity is not included in the federal definition of discrimination. I can be terrified because it’s harder to get a job or housing and keep it because I’m me. But most of all, I can be terrified because even in my “community,” there are publications that don’t acknowledge that I have reason to be terrified. This isn’t “controversial;” it’s pretty clear that this publication has a dim view of a community that was shoulder-to-shoulder with them during the fight for marriage equality. It’s a shame; this used to be a good magazine. I won’t stick around holding my breath for it to improve again.

  24. A statement from Rainbow Health Initiative

    We Need Not be Patient for This:
    A Teaching Moment for Lavender Magazine?
    In a recent issue of Lavender magazine (July 6, 2017), an article was published referencing “transgenderism,” “how the trans movement itself has yet to create a concerted, coherent, and patient campaign”, and a supposed executive order regarding bathroom access for transgender students from President Obama that Lavender claims “is a questionably crafted item.” 
    Rainbow Health Initiative is deeply concerned at Lavender’s editorial decision to use the term “transgenderism.” This term is primarily used by extremist groups seeking to enact policies making it legal for clinics, schools, and businesses to discriminate and deny services to transgender and gender non-conforming people.
    It is Rainbow Health Initiative’s position that no person need be “patient” for their human rights. Every year through our Voices of Health survey, we hear from transgender Minnesotans who have been denied healthcare simply because they are transgender. All transgender and gender non-conforming people should receive equitable health care and live with the same human rights protections afforded to cisgender and straight people. We need not be patient for this. Moreover, starting with their leadership of organizing the Stonewall riots (and even long before this), transgender people have clearly been at the forefront of organizing for both transgender and LGBT human rights. We are saddened and disappointed that Lavender magazine erased this history in their recent reporting. 
    In fact, Lavender’s reporting in this article requires a deeper look. The magazine claims in this article that “One of [President Obama’s] 2016 executive orders is a questionably crafted item regarding trans toilet facility usage.” The magazine claims “it was apparent immediately that the ramifications of this had not been thought through.” This was not an executive order. It was a guidance letter issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. A Presidential Executive Order is an entirely different policy mechanism. The letter issued by the Education and Justice departments outlined federal guidelines to schools prohibiting discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming students. The guidelines were founded on existing laws, as well as evidence-based practices for supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students. Opposition to the letter was mounted by anti-LGBTQ hate groups. We at RHI are confused as to why Lavender is siding with hate groups over Title IX law and evidence-based research.  
    Lavender rightly points out that “the general public [is] uneducated in trans concepts.” Our fear in reading this recent issue of Lavender is that their writers and editorial team are not only erasing transgender history, but using terminology and policy frameworks that align themselves with anti-transgender activists.

  25. Debbie says:

    “Too often activists resort to scolding and shaming…”

    Trans community scolds and shames author.

  26. Rylee says:

    As a person working in the LGBT non-profit sector, this article couldn’t be further from the truth.

    People give because our community is underserved. There is plenty of research showing the disparities in access to services for members of the LGBT community, especially for trans folks and people who hold other marginalized identities. In reality, the statistics ARE frightening! But people don’t give out of fear, they give in hopes that people will have a better experience. They give in hopes people will be able to access the services they need. They give to keep these services available where corporate USA doesn’t see money.

    If you can’t identify a clear “mission” of LGBT, specifically trans, organizations, then you’re missing it completely.
    See, here’s the thing, we’re still back at safety and community. We’re giving people a safe haven, we’re bringing people with similar struggles together, we’re providing services that people can’t access elsewhere.

    Maybe THIS is what should scare people. If your implying that people are afraid because they know members of their community don’t have the same access to, or quality of, care, then maybe their fear is founded. But to accuse non-profits of coersive fundraising based in fear is absolutely absurd. There is a REAL need, and the data IS scary. That’s why we’re on the ground, doing the work.

  27. Tamlyn M says:

    C: I’ll take acronyms from the 80’s for $1000, Alex.

    A: That’s today’s Daily Double. Okay Crissy, it’s the least inclusive most sexist and homonormative acronym for queer culture.

    C: Alex, what is GLBT?

  28. Britney Love says:

    Oh no… I’m so disappointed and embarrassed for you, Lavender. How could you ever think this was a good idea? This is the most insensitive and disjointed article I’ve seen in a long time. To see something like this published in an LGBT publication is heartbreaking. Do better next time.

  29. Joe says:

    I am not surprised by this article at all. As a trans person, I have RARELY/NEVEN found Lavender to be inclusive and/or on-top of trans issues, language, movement., etc. Often times, I pick up the magazine quickly notice the front cover — which usually consists of two gay men or lesbians picking out their wedding cake and put it back on the rack. There are never any REAL articles in this magazine, just a bunch of mainstream bad ads and non-sense. It is one of the weakest versions of a TLGBQ magazine I have ever encountered, and now, they OWE the trans community more than an apology. How about issuing an apology and then donating FUNDS to support one of the organizations locally who work with and openly support trans people — Family Tree, Reclaim, MTHC!

  30. Cynnthia says:

    As a trans woman who was just starting to feel like a part of the community I would like to thank you for showing me how unwelcome I truly am. I felt abused as a vendor at Pride and now told I shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Stealth it is then.

  31. Brenna says:

    Hey John, excited to see that Trump feels the same way about “transgenderism” as an inconvenience as you do? Must be nice when the Man in Power sees things the way you do.

  32. Andy Baird says:

    Geez, what is Lavender all about? Boogie consumerist drivel, fluff articles and nasty, barely masked alt-right opinion pieces. What a serious disappointment this town can’t have a relevant quality queer press. And to John, know you can take a theater geek out of right-wing Texas but you can’t take right-wing Texas out of…etc. Lavender is an ugly joke.

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