Protecting the Marginalized and Building Movements for LGBTQI Justice in the Face of a Pandemic

October 14, 2020

Communities that were marginalized before COVID-19 are hit even harder now as the pandemic continues.

Taking stock of this new reality, Arcus’ latest round of Social Justice Program grants helps to strengthen grassroots movements for justice and advance legal protections for some of the most marginalized LGBTQ people, including trans women of color, migrant workers, asylum seekers, and others throughout Africa and the Americas.

Grantees on the fall docket include several that regrant funds to small, grassroots groups, thus helping Arcus reach emerging activists, especially those among the most marginalized people in the populations we prioritize. All grantees are deeply embedded in their communities. Through their work, described below, these organizations are helping fulfill the vision of a future in which LGBTQ people everywhere thrive and are able to live their authentic lives.

Advocacy throughout Africa and the Americas
COVID-19 presents special challenges for LGBTQ communities in East and southern Africa, where they are sometimes blamed for the pandemic by anti-LGBTQ religious figures, and number among those hardest hit by the disease. Renewed funding for Inclusive & Affirming Ministries (IAM) will enable it to continue its longstanding faith-based advocacy for LGBTQ communities in Africa by training faith leaders to become change agents in their own communities.

The International Trans Fund (ITF), led by activists and hosted by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, will provide funds and training to trans groups working for greater safety and social inclusion from Africa to the Americas.

Some intersex people are subject to surgeries without their consent, as well as to other forms of violence and abuse from family and medical personnel. The Intersex Human Rights Fund, also hosted by Astraea, addresses these issues and helps build a stronger movement for intersex rights by awarding small grants to intersex groups working on information sharing, leadership development, and advocacy.

Identity documents with one’s correct name and gender are an important protection against discrimination and harassment. AMICUS DH will help trans people in Mexico and trans Mexican citizens living abroad to change their name and gender marker on identity documents. The organization will create a website, a mobile app, and a series of how-to guides for all 32 Mexican states.

The Santa Fe Dreamers Project will provide free legal services and advocacy for queer and trans immigrants and asylum seekers in New Mexico. The group is currently aiding asylum seekers via WhatsApp, preparing them to act quickly once the US-Mexico border is reopened.

Organizing communities and building next-generation leadership
Arizona is home to the fourth-largest LGBTQ population in the United States. Equality Arizona will train and connect a diverse statewide network of LGBTQ activists working for liberation, focusing on such issues as healthcare, police violence, and reproductive justice.

California Rural Legal Assistance will use support to continue to advance protections for LGBTQ communities in California’s Central Valley. Through community organizing and direct legal services, CRLA will advocate for LGBTQ populations such as rural Latinx trans women, low-wage LGBTQ workers, and youth.

Also in the Central Valley, 99Rootz, a project of Power California, is equipping the next generation of LGBTQ, undocumented, and farmworker youth leaders to build power and push for policy change. 99Rootz will focus on housing justice, an issue made more urgent as COVID-19 has displaced LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities disproportionately.

Regranting to reach the most marginalized and the deepest grassroots
Receiving grants this cycle are several organizations that will regrant funds to small grassroots groups in the U.S., with a focus on the Southeast and Southwest. Many of these groups have been active in the Black Lives Matter movement and are among those most affected by the pandemic.

The Fund for Trans Generations (FTG), based at Borealis Philanthropy, will regrant funds and provide training to local trans organizations in the South and beyond. The Third Wave Fund, a project of the Proteus Fund, will provide grants, convenings, and other assistance to organizations that are in communities of color in the Southeast and Southwest, and that are led by women and trans or gender nonconforming people.

The Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights will provide rapid-response support and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ human rights defenders nationwide. UAF will regrant funds to grassroots groups through its Resist and Reclaim Fund and continue a collaborative partnership with the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, a project of Transgender Law Center.

To learn about all Arcus grants awarded since 2007, please explore this page.