Navigating Change: Trans Lifeline Initiaties Restructure for Long-Term Resilience

Happy holidays from the Trans Lifeline team. ❤️

This year has been a doozy, and with no sign of relief on the immediate horizon, an already challenging time of year is feeling more daunting than ever for many trans folks. Seemingly endless streams of anti-trans rhetoric flood the news cycle while the realities of genocide, inequality, and global warming loom large in our psyche. We hope always to be here to provide support to those affected by the state of the world, but sadly, Trans Lifeline is not immune to the effects of these injustices—let us explain:

In 2023, we made huge strides in stabilizing the organization after years of sometimes chaotic growth. We strengthened our internal tech systems so that our programs could deliver services more efficiently; we put together our first-ever detailed strategic plan, developed a clear management structure, brought on new Board members, further bolstered our accounting practices, and continued to take big steps toward providing equitable pay and benefits.

Despite these wins, we found ourselves struggling to raise enough cash to pay the bills, a fate shared by many queer and trans organizations this year. We can’t be certain of the reasoning, but corporate funders who had previously supported the crucial work of TLGBQ+ organizations like ours have now significantly dialed back their financial support (see also). To be frank, this couldn’t be happening at a more difficult time—financial resources are more scarce than ever, all while we’re trying to survive wave after wave of discriminatory legislation targeting trans people, our very right to exist being debated on the global political stage.

Since our inception, we’ve always prioritized paying a living wage and providing a full range of robust benefits to our employees, meaning our personnel costs are often higher than other organizations our size. During times when revenue was abundant, this cost was manageable for us, but as those fundraising streams slowed to a trickle, it became clear to us that something would need to change for us to make it to 2024. Over the past year, we cut over $700,000 in non-personnel costs in an effort to preserve staff jobs. While these cuts made a significant impact, they weren’t enough to break even, and our costs continued to outpace what we were bringing in.

With the above in mind, it is with very heavy hearts that Trans Lifeline’s Leadership Team has had to make the extremely difficult decision to downsize the organization. This isn’t the outcome any of us wanted; as a majority trans organization, we understand the impact this decision will have on our staff, as well as members of the trans community who depend on our services.

Our mission is to care for trans folks, and unfortunate funding realities have forced us to temporarily reduce the size of our organization to preserve our ability to advance that mission. As part of this process, we have brought down the size of the leadership team from 9 to 6, with three of the remaining directors taking substantial unpaid cuts to their working hours. When this, coupled with the non-personnel cuts we made earlier in the year, failed to bring us out of the red, we had to pause our Microgrants program in its entirety and strategically downsize elsewhere in our organization. Additionally, we are restructuring our Hotline with updated hours to serve our callers, our community, and our staff better. You can read more about that here.

To reflect the care we provide for our community externally, we hope to buffer the impact of downsizing on staff by providing additional insurance coverage and a generous severance payment to those being laid off. We know that access to employment and health care is tenuous at best for trans people, and we hope that these resources can go part of the way toward lessening the impact on people’s health and livelihoods.

The sad reality is that these decisions are the only things that allow us to keep the lights on—it gives us time to weather the storm and to emerge stronger and with greater focus. Our goal is to restore services at full capacity and bring back furloughed staff members no later than February 1st, 2024, but we will need your help to pull this off. We are an organization primarily funded by individual donors like yourself, so let us meet this moment together to save Trans Lifeline!

In Solidarity,
The Trans Lifeline Leadership Team

We call on you – our community, to support Trans Lifeline this Giving Season:

Staying Engaged: Keep up with our updates, share your insights, and become an integral part of our mission.

Spreading the Word: Encourage peers and colleagues to join our cause. Together, our community of major donors can amplify our impact. Here’s a quick message you can use:

“I just supported Trans Lifeline to provide safe hotline support to Trans people in need. Join me in making a difference at”

Continued Giving: If the progress inspires you and you wish to contribute further, every additional gift propels us closer to our vision.

Our Promise to You: We promise to uphold the highest level of transparency and to keep you informed about how your gift is being used to make a tangible impact.


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