An Update on the Trans Lifeline Leadership Transition

July 9, 2018 | 4 min. read

Dear Community: As promised earlier this year, we want to update you on the circumstances surrounding the departure of the Trans Lifeline founders, Nina Chaubal and Greta Martela. Their departure had been planned for some time but was accelerated by the following events. 

Earlier this year, the Board launched an investigation into the financial transactions of Nina and Greta and concluded, with the advice of legal and financial professionals, that there had been significant spending of Trans Lifeline funds outside the scope of the current budget. Much of this spending was on an unauthorized project neither approved of by the Board nor made clear to donors, which Greta and Nina sincerely believed was for the good of the trans community. Unfortunately, their unauthorized project ran afoul of Trans Lifeline’s obligations to the 501(c)(3) tax laws.

In recognition of the many personal sacrifices Nina and Greta made to build Trans Lifeline, we are pleased to jointly announce that all parties have reached an agreement to allow Nina and Greta’s project to continue as a separate entity with an agreement that they will adhere to a payment plan to return the disputed funds to Trans Lifeline. We wish each other the best of success in the many efforts underway to serve the trans community at a time it has needed it more than ever. 

We thank you for your ongoing support during this process of transition.

We understand that this knowledge may be distressing and welcome any questions or concerns. In the meantime, we want to tell you a little about what’s changed here at Trans Lifeline, what’s never going to change, and what we can look forward to.

In the last six months, Trans Lifeline has experienced some incredible transformation.

  • This spring, Trans Lifeline added two new members to our executive team: Interim Executive Director Sam Ames and Deputy Executive Director Elena Rose Vera. Alongside Director of Operations Tiffany St. Bunny, who has provided substantial direction and stability throughout this leadership transition, the executive team will lead Trans Lifeline into the next chapter with the vision to end trans suicide once and for all. For more information on Sam and Elena, see our blog post.
  • To ensure we have comprehensive oversight, we’ve grown our board and implemented new policies to check unilateral decision-making by leadership, hired a team of legal and financial experts previously unaffiliated with Trans Lifeline, and earned outside accreditation with Contact USA as a crisis line to ensure the highest standards of ethical practice.
  • In service of our commitment to transparency, we’ve launched a new website with loads of new content— including a blog, information on our staff and board, and all the financial records we file with the IRS.

What isn’t changing—and what will never change—is our values.

  • We care for our community by meeting callers and clients where they are, without gatekeeping or respectability politics. Our Microgrants program was created from the belief that trans people can be trusted to know themselves and what they need, and we are here to support those decisions. Last month, we celebrated $100,000 in disbursed funds to hundreds of trans people, and we’re working hard to get hundreds more of the funds they need.
  • Our Hotline program is still the only crisis support in the world where callers can be guaranteed to reach a trans operator on the other end of the line. We’re proud to answer over 5,000 calls monthly and welcome new operators at every opportunity. We are here to nurture, protect, and build up our community, with trans people leading the way.
  • We work from a harm reduction model, which means we remain committed to our policy against non-consensual active rescue. Check out our blog for more information about what this does and doesn’t mean.

Our priority is you.

As the need for our services grows, we continue to invest in our capacity to meet those needs. If you’ve ever been interested in joining us, now is the time. We’re overhauling our training programs and bringing in new volunteers. We’re strengthening relationships with partner organizations in the fight to end trans suicide. We’re expanding our advocacy to strike at the roots of the issues we hear about daily and work for a future when we are no longer needed.

And all of it was made possible because of you, our community. Together, we have served thousands of trans people in need of emotional and financial support, and we are committed to keep serving until we are no longer needed. We know your trust is the most important resource, and in the days ahead, we will continue our work to earn it back. We enter this next chapter steadfast in our commitment to our values and ready for growth. We hope you’ll join us.


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