Meet Our Member: The International Trans Fund

FCAA is pleased to introduce what we hope will be a robust series profiling the work of the amazing organizations we count as members. We are launching the series with a feature of one of the newer additions to our membership roster: The International Trans Fund.

We encourage you to watch or read this interview below, and visit our Membership Page to learn more about this powerful community that collectively are responsible for roughly 50% of global HIV-related philanthropy per year.

The International Trans Fund, or ITF, is the only trans led global funder that focuses on safety, dignity, and justice for trans communities across the globe. We find and fund grassroots, trans-led organizations that are working on the front lines that are leading change and engaged in movement building. Since 2017, the ITF has awarded over $6 million to 181 trans-led organizations in 93 countries, which we’re very proud of. The ITF is very much led by respected trans activists who have strong links to trans movements across the globe, and our goal is to support, sustain and amplify the work that trans leaders are already accomplishing. The support from the ITF makes it possible for trans organizations to build stability, to lead campaigns, hopefully attract more funding. ultimately, it’s about sowing the seeds of strong global trans movements. The IDF became a member of FCA because HIV and AIDS directly impact trans communities across the globe. We know that trans people are 49 times more at risk of living with HIV as compared to the general population. HIV related stigma, transphobia, and fear of violence create barriers for trans people to access HIV testing and treatment services. Trans people with intersecting identities and experiences have even higher prevalence rates and even more barriers. So, for example, HIV prevalence is up to nine times higher among trans sex workers when compared to cis sex workers. But despite this reality, we know that very little funding is actually flowing to trans communities.

In 2018, FCAA released a report that found that just 3% of HIV related philanthropy was actually supporting trans communities. And then in the follow up report three years later in 2021, that support had increased to just 4%. So, we know that the need is not being met by the resources that are available. We joined FCAA because the mission really resonates with us, and we share the goal of mobilizing resources to end the global HIV pandemic. And specifically, we really appreciate and value being part of a global network of funders who even though have very different approaches and strategies but are working their hardest to leverage funding for this work and really investing in our communities. We’re thrilled to be part of this group.

That’s a great question. Participatory grant making is such an exciting model. It’s all about seeding decision making power, about funding to the communities that funders are aiming to serve. It’s about shifting power and really disrupting the status quo and philanthropy, where power traditionally sits in the hands of a few in the global majority. So for us, what participatory grant making means is that it’s essential for trans activists who understand the context in different regions, to be the ones who are making the decisions about where the money goes. There’s such extraordinary leadership and vision within trans movements, and organizations are regularly coming up with really innovative solutions and approaches to the barriers that they’re facing. We believe we should really be leaning into that expertise and experience, and we should be funding those groups to do the work they know they need to do.

It’s an old adage, but it’s true: “Nothing about us without us.” I think this really aligns with HIV-related philanthropy, which has also long been rooted in an informed by the HIV community. There are already some really incredible participatory grantmakers working in this space. We’d love to do a shout out to them, which include the Red Umbrella Fund, UHAI, Third Wave Fund, and the Robet Carr Fund, who show real leadership and vision in shaping the HIV response. It’s a great group to be amongst. I think there’s a real call to action, right?

I think there’s a real call to action, right? The ITF’s work is motivated by imagining a world where all trans people are safe, free, and can live with dignity and respect. We imagine a world where we celebrate and uplift our community’s unstoppable creativity, joy, defiance, and innovation to make change. Where trans movements are resourced, resilient and robust, working intersectionally to promote trans liberation and transform inequalities. So, we invite you to join this work. Together, we can build strong global trans movements. We can build a future where gender diversity is celebrated, and where trans people have the power to live as our true, authentic selves in our communities across the globe. Please join us.