EPISODE 28: The Case for Guaranteed Income for Transgender Americans

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Show Notes

The reality is that transgender women experience poverty rates as high as 30%. Rates of poverty are worst for Black and Latinx transgender people. For example, 41% of Black transgender Americans report having experienced homelessness. Two Californian cities are attempting to roll out guaranteed income programs specifically serving their transgender residents. 

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Transcript


Straw media. This is Lucas grinly
from next city, show about change makers

and their stories. Truth is,
there are solutions to the problems of pressing

people in cities. If you're listening, I hope it's because you want to

spread good ideas from one city to
the next city. An organization called glad

tracks representation of lgbtq people on TV
and two thousand and twenty one set a

record, with lgbtq characters comprising eleven
point nine percent of all series regulars.

That's a big change from when I
was a young gay kid. We had

one show will and grace. Even
so, I feel like you're not going

to believe me when I say this, but if you see gay people in

TV and movies and we seem to
travel wherever and our flush with expendable income,

you're not getting the whole picture.
Congress held a hearing last year on

the economic realities faced by lgbtq people. Listen to these numbers. Like other

underserved communities, lgbtq people experience a
well gap as compared to how respectual and

susgendered peers. LGBTQ people report smaller
incomes than on lgbtq people do and are

more likely to live in poverty than
on a lgbtq people are one in five

lgbt adults in the United States.
In two thousand and Nineteen reported earning less

than twenty FIVEZERO dollars a year,
which is one point five times more often

than for non lgbtq people, and
one hundred and twenty reported earning less than

five thousand dollars a year, which
was two point five times more often than

for not olgbt adults. transgender people
are four times more likely to make less

than tenzero a year than general population. That was Spencer Watson, the founder

of the Center for lgbtq economic advancement
and research. The reality is that transgender

women experience poverty rates as high as
thirty percent. Rates of poverty are worst

for black and Latin xt transgender people. For example, forty one percent of

black transgender Americans report having experienced homelessness. Those numbers come from our story at

next city about one potential solution to
California cities are attempting to roll out guaranteed

income programs specifically serving their transgender residents. Here is reporter Ray U Aita.

I asked them. Why are city
lawmakers targeting transgender residents for this support and

a representative democracy? I get,
like the United States, that you know,

the whole ideas, that is,
that every person has a voice in

every person matters and that we have
a governing system that's supposedly takes care of

people even when they're not able to
resource their own lives. You know,

we have snap benefits and wick and
Medicare and Medica to take care of flow

income families, ow income children,
elderly people, low income adults. They're

always just reading about and that's not
next city. Actually the programs across the

country targeted to support black mothers and
and black heads of households. But because

of the long arc of transphobia and
homophobia in this country, care people and

Trans people have often been either forgotten
or believed to be unworthy of emotional,

social, political economic support, and
so it's definitely time that trans people be

centered and economic policy in cities and
across the country. So what is special

about California? California's often on the
forefront, and they are in this case

because of something going on at the
state level. In January, Governor News

soon announced that there was a thirty
five million dollar budgets surplus from the previous

fiscal year and so that money allowed
a lot of progressive legislation to be enacted

in one of those is that he
announced that cities were eligible to apply for

funding to run their own universal basic
income pilot programs. And so one I

think what we take from that is
at California has a huge tax space to

pull from, and so that allows
cities to pool the money centrally and then

to redisperse that to cities across the
state. You know, San Francisco has

a really, you know, wealthy
tax base and they have launched their own

basic income program not with state money, but because we're pulling that money at

a central and central place. You
know, smaller cities with lets of a

tax base, like Palm Springs,
are then able to utilize that offering and

apply for funding to institute their own
basic income program and what are their particulars?

Of these two basic income programs?
How much are people getting, how

long, that sort of thing?
A lot of that is up in the

air. So when I spoke with
some folks who are working on instituting the

San Francisco program they had just started
working out the details and collaboration across organizations

and also in hosting different focus groups
with people who would be potential recipients of

the of the funds. So a
lot of that is still up in the

air. In San Francisco, I
believe recipients will receive about one hundred dollars

a month because they wanted the actual
dollar amount to be able to make a

material impact in their lives and that
program would last for twenty four months,

and so I believe it's about fifty
people who would be eligible. And of

course there are far more than fifty
trans and non binary and gender diverse people

who could benefit from having extra cash
in hand. But the ideas that they

did, the creators of the program
wanted to be able to make sure that,

you know, it wasn't just five
hundred dollars that could have, you

know, purchase someone's groceries or medical
bills for a month, but they wanted

it to be able to actually cover
some portion of someone's rent. And then

in springs, when I spoke with
some of the folks who are working in

applying for state funds in that city, they're still very much in the the

information gathering stage to figure out what
would a quality sum of money look like

for people and how many people could
they serve with that money? So it's

still up in the air, I
think, for a lot of places and

I think most one of the most
important parts that I learned from speaking with

people is that the city's are best
positioned to run these programs and organizations are

best assisted to to lead these programs, because every city's composition looks different.

Every city's, you know, the
need of Trans and non binary people in

each city differs, as does the
cost of living city by city. What's

the mood amongst people you've talked with? I would say there's a strong sense

of urgency to get this work done. I think people are excited, I

think people are energized. I think
people have been waiting patiently and in community

and angrily, rightfully, so,
that we have. We've had all of

these statistics about we got all this, you know, statistics and stories and

information about the ways that transgender people
are treated in this country, and yet

very little, almost nothing, has
been done to support the lives, the

health, the livelihoods of treads people. After the break we will hear from

one of the people designing the guaranteed
income program for Trans residents in Palm Springs.

The idea is getting worldwide attention,
and not all of it is good.

Welcome back to next city. Before
the break, we heard how San

Francisco and Palm Springs are building guaranteed
income programs that serve their transgender residents.

But before we hear more about those
programs, we have to acknowledge what's happening

in other parts of the country.
The ACLU tracks active legislation and there are

well over one hundred entries on its
list. Some states are making it harder

to get an ID that uses your
correct name in gender. They are barring

access to restrooms or banning trans kids
from playing school sports. One Bill in

Ohio even proposed a genital exam for
any female athlete accused of being transgender.

But if you haven't heard what's happening
in Texas, it's among the scariest stories.

According to a new law, any
parent who provides medical treatment to their

transgender child can be investigated by the
State for child abuse. Here is Democratic

Representative Sylvia Garcia of Texas during that
Congressional hearing last year on the economic disadvantages

fased by lgbtq people. Answering the
question is todd sears, the founder of

out leadership, a group for LGBTQ
business leaders. I WANT TO START WITH

MR sears. Mr Sears a two
thousand and twenty report by Equality Texas.

From that nondiscrimination protections would result in
addition to the addition of hundreds of thousands

of new jobs and millions of dollars
added to the GDP and tax receipts.

I think you kind of alluded to
that when you mentioned, and I was

really surprised, you said one third
of Algebra DQ workers will take a one

third pay cut to go to it
a friendlier state. Is the reverse true?

With Texas passing a really horrible Anti
Trans Bill this last session, can

we expect people to leave the state
because we're now becoming more and more and

friendly? The short answer is yes, absolutely. I've just spent this last

week on in in California meeting with
leaders in the tech community and the Texas

bill in particular, and there are
eight other states that have passed Anti Trans

Bill specifically around youth. Those bills
specifically came up in the tech community in

terms of expansion into Texas. The
point is a program supporting transgender residents is

not the norm. Joining us now
is Jacob Ristofski, the executive director and

founder of Queer works in Palm Springs, where he's helping to design a guaranteed

income program serving trans residents. I
mean, I definitely want to hear about

what the reactions been like, if
people are feeling hopeful in pump springs.

But Are you hearing from people all
over the country, because this is definitely

an outlier and how transgerent people are
being treated right now nationally? I have

been receiving communication from people all over
the world. Actually had some inquiries from

Hong Kong, which was very surprising
to me that all the way over there

they care about what's going on in
Palm Springs. You know, I've been

getting phone calls, both positive,
mostly are both positive and negative, mostly

negative, from all over the country, but the majority of communication has been

from the Riverside County area. I
don't want to dwell on the negative,

but it is important because it gets
to why Trans People need the support.

So you're getting aggressive pushback. Will
call it force than that. Yeah,

I've been getting some pretty for lack
of a better term aggressive. Well,

there's actually a lot of better terms, but for for terms, for these

purposes, very aggressive, life threatening
people saying they could find out where I

live and they'll come hunt me down. You know, things like Trans People

are mentally ill and their freaks and
we shouldn't be giving the money to continue

to fuel this. So it's just
been a lot of pushback about the population.

It's interesting, not about the program
itself, because everybody wants money,

but it's the population that we decided
to initially put the majority of our focus.

Song. Yeah, I don't know
that people understand the harassment and hate

that trans people face every day.
But then you're putting yourself out there and

trying to do something good for everybody. And what are the people who might

actually be affected saying to you about
it? Are they having the hopeful feeling

that you were looking to achieve?
I've been getting some really wonderful emails and

phone calls from people all over the
country, people saying, you know,

if I move here, will this
be an opportunity for me if I come?

Well, you know, if I'm
eligible and my able to get help.

You know, there's people who are
feeling really hopeful and optimistic that there's

something out there that could help them. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as

saying yes, move here, we
can help you. I wish that that

was the answer, but it's a
little bit of a light in these really,

really dark times for my community,
especially right now in a lot of

various states, you know, even
things that have nothing to do with our

community, horrific tragedies in the world
somehow are being tied back to putting blame

on us. So having something,
having a program that's saying listen, it

doesn't matter how you identify, doesn't
matter how you live your life, we

still want to help you. It's
been doing a lot for people. It

sounds like there's an obvious need across
the country. People saying I will move

there to be take part in this
program. Absolutely. I've been getting phone

calls from pep bill saying, you
know, I live in a county over.

You know, is there any way
for it to count? And we're

still in the very early phases,
so demographics and location and hasn't been nailed

down, and so I haven't been
able to give any sort of answer to

anyone, but I've been the best
I can say is I could take your

email. I could put it down. As soon as we know, I'll

let you know. And even that
is been really giving a positive been having

any positive response on people? They're
like yes, please, anything, just

let me know. You know how
I how I can be involved, and

that's just gives them a little bit
of something to hold onto. I mean,

rather than everyone moving to pump springs, we have so many people on

who listen to this podcast and read
next city that are trying to bring solutions

to their own cities. So let's
bring the program to those cities right more

places. How what kind of advice
do you have for people who might want

to go down this road? I
mean, you're not all the way down

it, but what have you learned
already? Wow, so, I mean

I'll just throw it out there.
I really had no idea what I was

doing and when asked to do UBI, I've done activism work for seventeen,

eighteen years. I've been out as
a transperson since I was thirteen years old.

So helping and coming up with solutions
definitely my forte understanding how to do

something that's so new in the world
was was a big learning curve, and

so the advice I would give is
to start with your target population and think

about how to serve that population and
the needs that that population has and work

from there, because if you build
a basic program and then you pick your

population, it might not make sense
right. We have to kind of build

things around the needs of the community, the needs of the individuals who are

are, you know, needing to
be served. So always whatever, even

if it's not ubi, even if
it's just something you want to do like

a clothing drive or, you know, Food Bank, think about the needs

of the community you're serving first and
build around that. So while we're in

the proposal and planning phase, what
we're doing right now is getting ready to

submit a proposal to the state of
California for funding. We've been doing what

I've this is what I'm good at. We've been doing community outreaching engagement.

So been holding focus groups, I've
been going into the community and talking the

community leaders. I've been trying to
build trust. So even though I'm a

Transperson, I'm a very different looking
transperson. I have a very different experience

from most trans people that we are
going to be serving. So my experience

doesn't help us create this program effectively. So I've been listening and I've been

sitting and I've been talking. From
your listening and all this engagement, what

is stuck with you about what people
say about the need for UBI? From

the engagement that I've been doing with
the T and nonbinary population, the need

has been I mean it's not surprising. The need has been there. The

expression of this can change our lives
has been there. And something that I

think is very confusing two people.
They think that people are going to be

getting this money and then they'll never
have to work, we'll never have to

do anything, they'll never have to
worry. But what I'm hearing from the

community is that it's actually going to
take them from way under the poverty line

to just at the poverty line.
Right. It takes them to, you

know, I it's sad to say
it takes them to a normalized level of

poverty and suffering, but even that
is enough of a change to be able

to help get maybe close for a
job, pay for an Uber, be

able to decide or be able to
not have to decide between eating and gender

affirming care, being able to go
to the hospital if they're being beaten up

because there are sex worker now but
they can't go to the hospital. So

now they can afford to go right, go to the dentists, get their

car fixed. So just little tiny
things that it'll help them with that will

ultimately make their lives that much better. If you could imagine the program,

I don't know if you hears,
from now. What do you hope to

see happen? So the program,
because it's a pilot and it'll be evaluation

like it's a study, will be
eighteen months Max from the moment that we

start allocating funds, so, give
or take two years right from one we

implement it. What I hope that
we see happen is that our participants are

now set up to be able to
take care of themselves once the program is

over. Right, we've been able
to teach him physical management, ways to

advocate for their needs, ways to
find that extra sort of care, and

by that I hope that they're able
to teach take the skills that they've learned

and, you know, disseminate it
within the community. So that's one way,

right, you kind of teach one
person, they teach a bunch of

other people. The other thing that
I hope to see happen is that this

is such a successful thing that other
cities, other states, you know,

the whole country understands that if you
help take someone from the bottom of the

barrel to a little bit more to
the top, it could really ultimately affect

everyone. I just want people to
understand that this is something that will help

everyone, not just marginalized community.
So I guess in a way like short

answer, I hope in a couple
of years people's eyes are opened a little

bit more to like different ways of
solving a huge crisis in the world,

which is, you know, financial
and insecurity. After the break we will

hear about why guaranteed income programs are
so effective. Will hear from the creator

of a program Sir Bring Black mombs
in Mississippi. Welcome back to next city.

Before the break we heard how palm
springs is listening to transgender residents as

it designs a guaranteed income program.
The longest running guaranteed income program anywhere in

the country is in Jackson, Mississippi. In an earlier next city episode,

we spoke with Aisha Nyandoro from Magnolia
Mother's trust about whether that program is effective.

Here now is some of what she
told us. I don't like having

this feeling that I have to frame
every question as a response to what somebody

who's wrong is going to say.
But the thing that everybody is saying in

the reason we're doing these demonstration programs, these pilot programs, is to come

up with proof of like how someone
is spending the money in their everyday lives.

So I wonder if you could put
that to rest for us. What

are you finding that people are using
this money for? So I'm going to

answer that question, but I'm also
going to say another piece with that.

I feel the idea that we need
proof what individuals are spending their money on.

I really feel like that. It's
racist, sexist in classes. We

never acts well the individuals for proof
of how they're using their tax cuts.

We never acts in whether or not
they need the tax cuts. But whenever

we go about saying we are going
to give a subset of our population money

without restrictions, all of a sudden
we have to police them. All of

a sudden we need proof to make
sure that those resources are being used for

something that we actually approve. And
none of that's okay. So we really

need to lay that narrative to rest
and we need to quit hiding behind this

idea of proof and simply said that
we are going to trust individuals. Just

because we do it with rich people, we can do it with port people

as well, but and giving the
proof of what we've seen is that individuals,

once you give families to cash with
that restrictions, they go about the

bus and stuff, taking care of
themselves and their families, the families that

we work with, no better than
anyone. What this opportunity means is Twelvezero

for our families is doubling their income
in a lot of instances. So individuals

go about getting out of debt,
they go about going back to school,

finishing school, getting better jobs because
they can actually now take time off to

go to job interviews. They do
extracurricular activities for their kids, they go

on vacation. For the last two
years we've been under that drop of a

pandemic, so individuals have still been
able to pay their bills, pay their

rent, help food on the table, pay for school supplies, all of

those pieces. But then also what
it is that we're seeing that we don't

talk enough about is that individuals able
to show up joy, they're able to

dream. They don't have the scarcity
and their bandwidth is in tax and it

just really allows them a moment and
a possibility to see what could be,

then putting themselves first for the first
time and not simply just putting their kids

first. Collectively, the MOM's in
the MAGNOLIAN mothers trust program paid off tenzero

dollars in predatory debt. The percentage
of mothers who said they could pay all

their bills on time increased from twenty
seven percent to eighty three percent. The

percentage of MOMS who had money saved
for emergencies went from forty percent to eighty

eight percent. So their financial health
changed dramatically. You know, I know

it's really important to the way that
your program was designed is that it started

by talking with the MOMS themselves.
Right, yeah, so can you talk

about how it came about and also, is this the way that programs should

be made like, if other guaranteed
income programs are happening across the country,

should they be doing it the same
way that you did the process? or

it's fine, you can, you
know, you've already learned how it works

and you could just start it right
and I look at you're trying to get

me in trouble. Not Going to
tell people what they should do, but

what I will say for me in
my philosophy, I really do believe in

a person center approach to programming,
in policy design and just the way that

we do work. I don't believe
that you can design anything for people without

people that will be impacted been included
in a design process. So, for

the work that I laid at springboard
opportunities and with our work with the Magnolian

Mothers Trust, I take an extreme
sense of pride that Magnoli Mothers Trust was

designed by the women that we work
with and I could not be more pleased

that we have seen this work that
was really thought about around lunch room tables

and meeting tables in two thousand and
seventeen that we've seen it had the impact

that it's had across this country.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of next

city show about change makers and their
stories. Together we can spread good ideas

from one city to the next city. Thank you for listening. This week.

Thank you to journalist Rayueida, who
first reported this story. Thanks to

our guest Jacob Ristofsky from Queer Works
and pump springs and be sure to check

out the full interview with Ayisha Nayandoro
in our earlier episode, which was titled

Is Giving Away Cash The best way
to cut poverty? By the way,

next city is a news organization with
a non profit model. If you like

what we're doing here, please consider
pitching in to support our work. visit

next city dot org slash membership to
make a donation. Our audio producer is

Silvana Alcala, our executive producers are
Tyler Nielsen and Ryan Tillotson, and I'm

Lucas Gridley, executive director of next
city. We would love to hear any

feedback from our listeners. Please feel
free to email us at Info at next

city dot Org and, if you
haven't already subscribed to the show on apple,

spotify or anywhere you listen to your
podcasts.
Next City
Join Lucas Grindley, executive director at Next City, where we believe journalists have the power to amplify solutions and spread workable ideas. Each week Lucas will... View More

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