By Chris Walker / Truthout
A new report details how transphobic legislative legislation throughout the country is compelling some transgender and nonbinary individuals and their families to raise funds to flee their home states.
According to reporting from The Advocate, there are “dozens, if not hundreds” of GoFundMe fundraisers currently on the crowdfunding website for relocation funds. The number of people seeking financial help to relocate is likely much higher, too, since other crowdfunding platforms aren’t covered in the reporting, and some transgender people are soliciting funds directly on social media without using a crowdfunding site.
GoFundMe officials recognize that the use of the platform to move out of state for such purposes has increased considerably, due to hundreds of anti-trans bills under consideration since the start of the year.
“In the wake of more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the United States in 2023, families and trans individuals are looking to leave their respective state as they could face more obstacles when it comes to accessing essential services related to healthcare as well as education,” said Brian Hill, a communications associate for the website.
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Many users utilizing GoFundMe for such purposes are from Florida, which has recently passed numerous anti-LGBTQ bills, including legislation that forbids the use of gender-affirming care for youth and punishes parents that seek out such (often life-saving) treatments for their children. One law recently passed in the state, for example, wrongly classifies gender-affirming care for youth as a form of “serious physical harm” that could potentially be cited during custody enforcement hearings to allow another parent or guardian, unsupportive of that care, to take “physical custody of [the] child.”
The Advocate’s report includes specific testimonials and fundraisers that transgender people are sharing on GoFundMe, some of which mention specific politicians.
“Due to the new bill [Florida Gov. Ron] Desantis signed into law SB 254 I can no longer be provided medication from my doctor to continue my transition,” one user cited in The Advocate’s report stated. “At this point I only have a week’s worth left of my medication. On top of that the new bathroom ban bill HB 1521 could get me arrested for using a public restroom of the gender I identify with.”
That user elaborated on their need to raise funds, writing that:
Due to fear for my own safety and human rights I have decided to try and escape Florida as soon as I possibly can. I’m trying to move to Illinois to be with the love of my life and also to settle down in a state I consider to be an LGBTQ+ safe haven. I just wanna live in a place where I don’t live in fear.
Families with transgender children are also utilizing the site to help them move out of states with transphobic laws.
“My beloved sister and her family currently live in Florida — which has grown increasingly more hostile toward LGBTQ people,” user Jill Taylor, who is running a fundraiser on behalf of her sister’s family, said in a fundraising post, noting that one of her sister’s kids is a transgender child.
“Moving is expensive. The cost of living in trans-friendly states is much higher,” Taylor explained. “Having to flee your home and leave most of your belongings behind to start anew for the safety of your children is traumatic.”
These types of fundraisers are not new, either, and are not limited to Florida. Last year, a mom from Texas raised thousands of dollars to move herself and her transgender child out of the state. Families in Alabama also began crowdfunding to move out of state after an anti-transgender bill was passed that denied gender-affirming care to trans kids.
These testimonials and many others like them express deep worries and concerns that transgender people and their loved ones have about states that are actively targeting them.
Anti-trans bills ignore scientific understanding and research on gender, and contradict the advice of several medical organizations, which have noted that gender-affirming care is helpful and that bans on such care are detrimental to the well-being of transgender people, including children.
Transgender activists and their allies have noted that the effect and the intended goal of these bills is the eradication of trans people in public spaces altogether.
“Slowly, states are moving towards an outright ban on being transgender — it is for these reasons that people have begun calling the attacks on gender-affirming care an attempt at genocide,” journalist Erin Reed, a tracker of anti-trans legislation and a transgender activist, said earlier this year.
Chris Walker is a news writer at Truthout, and is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analyzing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people. He can be found on Twitter: @thatchriswalker