The U.S. and global LGBTQ+ community is currently contending with an unprecedented wave of legislation targeting its very identity.
In 2023 alone, more than 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills (at least 220 of which specifically target transgender and non-binary people) and 45 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced and enacted in state legislatures—more than the past five years combined. These encompass everything from outright bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth and even drag performances to laws censoring school curriculum and certain books, and much more.
Florida Senate Bill 254, for instance, criminalizes gender-affirming care for those under 18, among other restrictions, while Texas Senate Bill 1029, if signed into law, would prohibit gender-affirming care for all state residents, regardless of age.
These are only two examples from an avalanche of legislation trans-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit Point of Pride must now consider when responding to the dozens of support requests it receives daily from trans folks around the United States seeking healthcare grants, chest binders, or femme shapewear.
“Even though we’re supporting hundreds of people each month, we can’t keep up with the demand across our programs,” says Jeff Main, co-founder and Secretary of the Board of Directors for Point of Pride. “And now we’ve also got to say, ‘Wait a second, are you living in Missouri? Did that bill pass? Is it effective immediately?’”
Amid this historic onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the Oregon-based nonprofit aims to minimize harm if such bills do pass, while avoiding liabilities such as “aiding and abetting” in some states, to provide trans folks life-saving care they need.
Tracking & Response to Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation
While many of these bills ban drag performances, discussing LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, or various materials in public schools and libraries, a sizable portion bars trans youth from receiving gender-affirming medical care.
For instance, when the Vulnerable Child Protective Act was signed into law in April, Idaho joined more than a dozen states restricting gender-affirming care for minors—banning those under 18 from accessing surgery, puberty blockers, and hormones.
Given its role in providing financial aid for trans folks who cannot afford gender-affirming surgery, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), permanent hair removal services, and garments, Point of Pride and its beneficiaries within communities spanning all 50 states and 100 countries are directly impacted by these decisions.
“Every major medical establishment agrees that access to gender affirming care is life-saving,” explains Main. “And that’s something that we’ve seen firsthand and we truly believe in, that the goal of this type of care is to help a person’s well-being and quality of life. So it’s not to just survive, but thrive.”
Partnering with independent journalists, activists, and organizations, the nonprofit tracks ongoing legislation and regularly consults with local and state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood about potential legal impacts.
More than one-third of Point of Pride’s recipients live with a disability or chronic illness, and the vast majority are 24 or younger. The wave of proposed or enacted anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has made reaching these vulnerable communities more and more challenging.
“I think a lot of organizations, even organizations with far more resources than us, are playing defense right now because we’re just trying to keep up with everything and understand the impact,” Main explains. “It’s hard to really predict where things are going to go in each state and nationally so we can be more proactive.”
The consequences of these laws could be far-reaching. As Main explains, Point of Pride could face aiding and abetting charges simply by providing minors information and resources regarding gender-affirming care in a state where a law now makes that illegal.
Some legislation also prohibits counselors, nurses, and schools from withholding information about a child’s gender identity from parents, and punishes gender-affirming care providers with everything from lawsuits, license revocation, felony charges, fines, and prison time.
“We want to provide the best experience and resources for the people that we help,” Main tells InclusionHub. “And we feel we can’t as effectively anymore, without facing a lot of potential risk.”
Creating a ‘Holistic, Positive Experience’
As Main continues fielding requests, he’s noticed increased anxiety among trans folks asking about asylum and relocation funds as they contemplate leaving their states.
“Some people panic about, like, ‘Where will I go? What do I do?’” he shares. “But I also think that it’s brought out a lot of really beautiful experiences of mutual aid within our community and among allies. So, there’s a lot of positives that are happening, too.”
Although Point of Pride does not provide relocation funding or services, it aims to integrate multiple new facets in the coming years to support a “holistic, positive experience.” This includes care coordinators to manage recipient grants, donor nurturing campaigns, events, and more opportunities for advocacy and education, such as thought leadership pieces in popular publications.
The addition of two full-time staff members will only further empower these initiatives. Volunteer Tyler Rodriguez was appointed program manager in January, and Main will step into the full-time executive director role in July.
One of the organization’s founders along with President Aydian Dowling, Main has seen Point of Pride from its beginnings as an offshoot of trans-led clothing and apparel company Point 5cc to its current status as a leading international nonprofit expanding access to health and wellness services to trans people across the globe.
“Jeff has been the leading force of our mission at Point of Pride,” Dowling tells InclusionHub. “Without his leadership, drive, and passion for our mission, we would not be able to serve the thousands of people we have served across the world. That is why Jeff stepping into the executive director role here at Point of Pride is our next step for growing our mission. Besides all of his career-focused acknowledgement, Jeff is a great friend who has been a light for so many years and I am so proud of him and the work he is doing.”
Since its inception, Point of Pride has donated nearly 16,000 garments and awarded more than $750,000 in direct financial aid. Main’s care and passion is evident in all he does for the organization—and his work as a design director at New York-based HubSpot Partner Agency and InclusionHub founding partner Hypha HubSpot Development.
“It’s just so exciting,” he shares. “I feel such a personal and professional sense of fulfillment to see those financial award letters go out, and see people get one step closer to the healthcare that they need and deserve.”
Trans Empowerment Through Community Support
Amid all the changes and upheaval weathered by the trans community in the United States and abroad, Point of Pride has remained steadfast in its mission to help those in need.
”Access to the care that they need through the programs that we offer is more than just, ‘Here’s that money for that surgery,’ or ‘Here’s that chest binder for you to present more authentically in public,’” explains Main. “It can really just help them navigate every facet of their life.”
Point of Pride draws strength from this, as well as the trans community, overall.
“Trans people helping other trans people at a time when the rest of the world doesn’t always support us—like we support each other—that’s a mantra that we've really been leaning into a lot, especially this Pride,” Main says.
“It can be tricky to talk about our resilience, because you don’t always want to fight so hard,” he continues. “It would be great if I didn’t have to be so resilient. But I think that that is another thing that a lot of folks are feeling right now: We will overcome. We’ve fought these fights before, we’ve just got to fight them again.”
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