Trans Lives Matter protest at Creating Change 2015

Take action against anti-trans violence by supporting vital services and organizing

The recent, tragic uptick in murders of trans women of color seems to be finally drawing the attention outside trans circles. Simply caring is sadly not enough, though. A Facebook status about how awful the violence is won’t actually make the world a better place.

But there are real, practical actions you can take.

An epidemic of murders doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s related to the systemic oppression of trans women that exposes the most vulnerable to violence. It’s directly related to the extreme discrimination trans women face in areas like housing, public accommodations, employment, healthcare access, physical and sexual assault, etc. The worst of this lands on low income women of color, because intersectionality. Extreme poverty and a lack of employment options can lead to homelessness, and often means sex work is the only job option. And because sex work is criminalized and stigmatized, there is a lack of support and resources available. In fact, the specific intersection of trans women of color doing sex work holds such a particular cultural position that it has become a trope representing people who are not valued as fully human, which even contributes to advocates erasing this intersection, as Morgan Page has pointed out. We avoid talking about the fact that murder victims are often sex workers because of respectability politics.

But knowing some of the intersections means we can do something to address them. As a starting point, I’ve compiled a list of organizations doing direct service and direct action work in areas directly related to the violence: criminalization and incarceration (primarily of sex workers and immigrants, who are facing violence in detention centers and the threat of deportation to places they fled), housing, and amplifying the voices and action of trans women of color. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a small selection of organizations in the US I’m aware of — there are many more groups doing related valuable work. If you want to support a local group and your region isn’t represented, you may find one on the much longer list of Trans Justice Funding Project grantees. Please share your own suggestions in the comments — there may even be other posts like this.

These are all small, underfunded organizations doing vital work that could use your support — by donating, encouraging your friends to donate, and/or taking part in their campaigns.

Black and Pink

Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.

Donate here and find an LGBTQ prisoner penpal here.

TGI Justice Project

TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender people—inside and outside of prison—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom.

We work in collaboration with others to forge a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures.  We seek to create a world rooted in self determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice.

Donate here.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.

Donate here.

Red Umbrella Project

The Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) is a small peer-led organization based in Brooklyn, New York, which amplifies the voices of people in the sex trades to take greater control of their lives and livelihoods through sustained and structured peer-mentoring initiatives, multimedia storytelling platforms, and public advocacy skills development programs.

Donate here.

Mariposas Sin Fronteras

Mariposas Sin Fronteras is a Tucson, AZ based group that seeks to end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention. We envision a society that no longer finds solutions in the system of immigration detention or the prison industrial complex. As we work toward that goal, we support LGBTQ people currently detained in Eloy and Florence, AZ through visits, letters, bond support, advocacy, and housing upon freedom from detention.

Donate here.

Trans Women of Color Collective

Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) is a national organizing collective led by trans women of color created to uplift the narratives, leadership, and lived experience of trans folks of color. Historically, we have been the catalyst of change for social justice movements. TWOCC works to empower our community and allies to create and sustain revolutionary change!

Donate here.

Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement

FAMILIA: TQLM works at the national and local levels to achieve the collective liberation of LGBT Latin@s by leading an intergenerational movement through community organizing, advocacy, and education.

Donate here.

Morris Home

The first residential recovery house in Philadelphia exclusively for transgender and gender variant individuals.

Donate here.

Casa Ruby

Our Drop Inn-Community Center is the only Bilingual Multicultural LGBT safe space in Washington, DC open 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday from 12-8pm.Our goal is to support the most vulnerable in our LGBT community when need it most. Staff and volunteers working together to provide basic human services to more than 150 clients per week.

Donate here.

Sex Workers Outreach Project

Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.
SWOP, at its most basic, is an anti-violence campaign. As a multi-state network of sex workers and advocates, we address locally and nationally the violence that sex workers experience because of their criminal status.

Donate here.

This Is HOW

This Is H.O.W. Inc. is a 501c(3) non profit organization [in Phoenix, AZ] dedicated to the betterment of the lives of Trans (transsexual, transgender, and gender variant) persons experiencing crisis situations such as homelessness, substance abuse, familial abuse, and transition related difficulties.

Donate here. [Update: We've heard that This Is HOW is no longer in operation - a reminder of how much organizations like this need support. As an alternate I'd like to include another org that belongs on a list like this, the Anti-Violence Project.]

Hearts on a Wire

Since 2007, Hearts on a Wire has been building a movement to address the policing and imprisonment of our trans and gender variant communities across Pennsylvania. Hearts on a Wire is a collective of trans and gender variant people inside and outside of Pennsylvania prisons.

Hearts on a Wire doesn’t currently take online donations, but you can sign their petition to change Pennsylvania commisarry rules to allow people necessary items regardless of their assigned gender.


BreakOUT! seeks to end the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to build a safer and more just New Orleans.

We build on the rich cultural tradition of resistance in the South to build the power of LGBTQ youth ages 13-25 and directly impacted by the criminal justice system through youth organizing, healing justice, and leadership development programs.

 Donate here.

Header image via Bilerico.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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