It’s December again. That time of year when we in North America face a deluge of Christmas music, Christmas sales, cries about “the war on Christmas”, and the seemingly endless fundraising letters, emails, and advertising on web sites. I understand why so many organizations have a major fundraising push at this time of year–this is the time of year when people give the most. The problem is the messaging of many of these asks and the difference between what is presented in advertising and what services are actually delivered. In the realm of those who provide, or claim to provide, services for LGBTQIA+ people the disconnect is sometimes glaring. They say they provide services to all, yet they do not.
One email I received talks about how they are working to, and providing leadership to, eliminate systemic oppression. I’m still cleaning the coffee from my laptop screen from laughing out loud. Their fundraisers and communications people are saying this without examining what the organization has been doing on a daily basis.
I’ve said it before and, unfortunately, I am saying it again and will say it again in the future. This is bullshit. These organizations pay lip service to the most marginalized, yet do not actively work in their own organization to ensure adequate representation. They say they support trans people, for example, yet do not hire many trans people, and when they do it’s most often trans men. The trans services are limited, often with more programming for trans men than trans women. Supports for those who are not youth and not seniors is significantly lacking.
When looking at where to put your charitable givings, take some time to find out what organizations are doing on the ground. Organizations that have widespread recognition are being avoided by members of the communities they purport to support. At the Resilience Anthology event in Toronto on the 18th I was speaking to trans women about one of these organizations. They, too, avoid them. Counsellors at an agency here in Toronto told me that they are told by many of their clients who are trans women that there are two places that purport to support trans people that they, as trans women, do not trust and/or do not go to them. The services are, in fact, lacking.
If you can, talk to community members, read their blogs, their public Facebook pages, Twitter, and other social media. You may find that the organization you thought was so great and supportive really isn’t. That they don’t have representation in management. Speak with your charitable givings for those who are tired of constantly pointing out shortcomings and not being acknowledged. Those of us pointing out these problems are not being listened to. All too often pushed aside and told to be grateful for the crumbs we get.
I am tired of crumbs. We need more. We need better. Organizations can do better and must do better. This will only happen when others help amplify our voices in solidarity. When we work together to push organizations to do better.