Elena Rose Vera’s Outgoing Letter to Our Community
Dear beloved community,
It is with the deepest dedication to the collective well-being and liberation of trans people everywhere that I’m writing to let you know that after over three years of serving Trans Lifeline–first as a member of the Board, then as Deputy Executive Director, and since the spring of 2019 as Executive Director–I’m turning the reins over to a new cadre of leadership who will steward the organization through our next phase of growth and service to our community and staff.
When I joined Trans Lifeline’s Board of Directors in 2018, I came with a commitment to ensure our people receive the care we deserve from an organization our community takes pride in. This was an incredibly turbulent time in Trans Lifeline’s history–it included the removal of the organization’s founders after severe mismanagement of funds, among many other challenges. At times, it was uncertain that Trans Lifeline would continue to exist at all. Today, that is no longer a question.
During my time here, I have worked alongside trans staff and volunteers who are dedicated to the pursuit of community-oriented care–leaders who share a dedication to and love for our community who I have been honored to know and share this labor with. Together, our team added a Spanish-language extension to our Hotline and responded to the epidemic of domestic and intimate partner violence (DIPV) against trans people by adding a DIPV Coordinator. We also expanded our Microgrants program more than tenfold, adding an Inside Advocacy program to support incarcerated trans people and, most recently, HRT Microgrants to help support medical transitions.
We doubled our budget, instituted strict protocols for financial transparency and accountability, and expanded paid leave and health care benefits for our staff–65% of whom identify as BIPOC. We’ve even brought our expertise to weigh in on national civil rights cases and healthcare policies. We held the line through the Trump administration, the beginnings of the COVID pandemic, climate disasters, and so much more that challenged our community’s survival and challenged us to keep growing. We have truly proven that trans people are the experts in our own lives and in community-based care. I take so much pride in what we’ve accomplished together, and the trust so many of you have placed in us at Trans Lifeline.
Everyone who has the privilege of serving Trans Lifeline hopes to leave the organization in a better position than when we came, and it has always been my hope to see it grow beyond me. We grew quickly to meet our people’s needs. In that growth, though, we’ve discovered that old systems designed for a much smaller organization need rebuilding, and have shown the strain of years of hard work–with high turnover, significantly reduced call answer rates, and an extended pause for our Name Change Microgrants. During our three-week organizational sustainability pause, it became clear to me that the infrastructural investment we need to get our services running smoothly at our new scale requires fresh leadership with the experience needed to carry us into the next phase forward. It’s time to pass the torch, and I’m glad to have helped us get ready for new leaders and new horizons.
There is a lot of work ahead of Trans Lifeline. As we begin our search for new permanent leadership, I am thrilled to introduce our Interim Executive Director, who comes from our Board of Directors: Taegen Meyer (she/her). Taegen is a Black Chicana trans femme community organizer with BLM Los Angeles. Taegen will guide Trans Lifeline through the next few months of planning for systems rebuilding, stabilization, and growth. I know Trans Lifeline will be well cared for by her and I cannot wait to see where the organization goes from here.
Trans people deserve the world, and the world is better with us in it. My commitment to serving our people will never waver, and neither will Trans Lifeline’s. I hope that everyone this organization touches is well, protected, and safe as you continue to join Trans Lifeline in working towards our collective liberation. I will remain alongside you in community, struggle, and hope.
Rev. Elena Rose Vera, outgoing Executive Director.