If you aren't already familiar with me, my name is J. Skyler and I am a Black [genderqueer] trans woman, author, public speaker and activist. I cover topics related to gender and sexual diversity in culture, politics, race, feminism and representation in media. My work is featured at ComicBookBin, Comicosity, ComicsAlliance and in Cinema Journal—published quarterly by the University of Texas Press. I am certified in Business Management, Small Business, Human Resource Management and International Business from Mt. San Antonio College. Over the past decade, I have participated in open forum/discussion panels on gender and sexual identity for students taking human sexuality, gender studies, sociology, ethnic relations, psychology and media studies. You can view my resume here. I have received letters of recommendation from professors I have worked with over the years (see here and here and here).
I am also creator of the hashtags #TransCrowdFund, #DisabilityCrowdFund and #FemCrowdFund, a social media initiative to redistribute wealth and provide economic stability to marginalized individuals. The tags have received media coverage from The Mary Sue, The Billfold, The FADER, NYLON, BGD Press and The Black Youth Project—published by the University of Chicago. My original fundraiser which prompted the creation of these hashtags is nearing its end and I now have an entirely new set of goals in mind.
I have a lofty goal of building a facility that would host the country’s largest transitional living program for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals and their families. A transitional living program or half-way home is a facility that houses homeless and at-risk individuals and/or families for a finite period of time while providing a wide variety of services—food, medical, legal, educational, vocational, case management, etc—in order to help them transition into fully independent living. As a former resident of the Los Angeles LGBT Center Youth Transitional Housing project, I know by way of lived experience how vital these programs are. However, few programs such as these exist that cater exclusively to transgender and gender nonconforming people, who have highly specific hurdles to overcome facing multiple forms of social and systematic transphobia.
As I mentioned in my interview with The Billfold: “Some trans people face economic violence in the form of employment discrimination. Others face housing discrimination. Numerous trans people suffer health care discrimination and many trans people face these injustices simultaneously. The “Fight For $15” doesn’t mean much to a trans person who can’t find employment or is terminated without legal recourse. Maintaining a full-time job isn’t exactly easy if you’re homeless due to housing discrimination. Many trans people have to rebuild their entire lives after coming out as trans, which can include losing financial assets after a divorce or leaving the family home. Trans people of color run a higher risk of facing these issues than our white counterparts. Many trans people, especially trans women of color, are dependent on sex work for survival, which inherently runs the risk of racial profiling, incarceration, and legal fees. Trans people who make sex work their career of choice face these hurdles as well.”
J. SKYLER TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAM (JSTLP)
My proposed facility would host a free, three year transitional living program specifically for homeless and at-risk transgender individuals and families to help them achieve independent living. The facility would be sectioned to accommodate residents at differing life stages: youth 16-24, adults 25-54, seniors 55 and over, and transgender individuals with families. It would provide room and board, meals, clothing, medical and psychological health care, legal representation, educational and vocational workshops, substance abuse treatment, case management and other necessities that can be provided in-house or outsourced.
This proposal would be a monumental undertaking, one I wouldn’t dream of taking on alone. My initial goal acting as Chair and Chief Executive Officer would be to incorporate an official nonprofit org and use funds raised in this primary crowdfunding campaign to hire and/or consult an administrative staff: a Chief Operating Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Legal Officer (CLO) and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) with demonstrated experience in state and federal policy for transitional housing, strategic business planning and grant proposal. I will be seeking transgender individuals specifically to either fill these positions or have ongoing consultations with. Of course, if cisgender professionals with expertise in these fields are willing to consult with me pro bono (especially now, during the initial campaigning) it would be greatly appreciated.
Even with experts in the field guiding the project development, I don’t anticipate much federal funding under the Trump administration, so grassroots crowdfunding as well as corporate sponsorship for this project will be quintessential for sustainability. Based on this 2015 report from the county of Santa Clara, projects such as these request may request $100-300,000 as start up for a development. I’m overestimating for this campaign because I know the scale of development I’m proposing is larger than what is typically done. It is also difficult to pinpoint useful data that specifically includes gender identity as a basis for a transitional living program.
I feel I should also make it clear, impoverished or otherwise marginalized folks should not be contributing to this campaign; your responsibility is your own survival. The burden of cost should be first and foremost on cisgender allies. Unless you are transgender and hold a position of affluence or at minimum, independent financial security, concentrate your time and energy on signal boosting. For those privileged enough to consider contributing, I like to break up things into multiples of 25: A $500,000.00 goal divided by $25 per donation equals 20,000 donors. With the active number of users on Twitter and Facebook alone, the goal IS attainable.
As always, I continue to advocate giving directly to those in need, as nonprofits can’t possibly help every individual in crisis. I encourage those wishing to contribute to split or match their donations to this project with one or more individuals utilizing the #TransCrowdFund, #DisabilityCrowdFund and #FemCrowdFund hashtags. Please incorporate direct-giving as a permanent aspect of your charitable endeavors.