What is the International Trans Fund (ITF)

The International Trans Fund (ITF) is a participatory grantmaking fund made up of trans activists and donors who aim to increase the capacity of the trans movement to self-organize and advocate for trans people’s rights, self-determination and wellbeing.

At the ITF, we take a philanthropic approach that engages constituencies in the grantmaking process. This means that trans people are actively involved at every stage, from determining funding priorities to reviewing applications and making decisions about which groups get funded. We want to ensure widespread trans community participation as well as foster trans leadership and collective ownership of funding decisions. We believe that this approach increases the diversity of decision-makers, strengthens decisions and allows more funding at the grassroots level.

Why is there a need for a specific trans fund?

Trans groups across the globe are underfunded and do not have the resources they need to address the challenges facing their communities. According to a survey of 455 trans organizations conducted in 2016 by AJWS (American Jewish World Service), GATE (Global Action for Trans Equality) and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, it was found that two out of five trans groups had zero external funding and only 40% had foundation funding. 56% of trans organizations operated on a budget of less than $10,000 yearly and over three-quarters (78%) had annual budgets of less than $50,000.

A group of international trans activists and donors came together to create the ITF in 2015. The ITF is committed to ensuring much-needed resources go to the trans community through direct grantmaking. However, the ITF also plays a role in philanthropic advocacy. We work with other funders to help them understand the needs of the trans community and put resources into the trans movement.

How are decisions made at the ITF?

The ITF has three bodies that contribute to decision-making in the organization. The Board of Directors, which is comprised of trans activists and funders, which provides strategic governance and leadership to the ITF. The Board also maintains legal and fiscal responsibility for the Fund’s activities. The Grant Making Panel (GMP) is exclusively comprised of trans activists and these individuals are tasked with reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the Board for funding. The Secretariat (staff) are employed to manage operations and are led by the Director.

How can I become a member of the Board or Grant Making Panel?

The ITF has regular open calls for applications to become a member of the Board or Grant Making Panel (GMP). These are voluntary positions with an honorarium. The Board term is 3-years and the GMP term is 2-years. Check the website for more information.

How can I work at the ITF?

The ITF posts job vacancies on our website. Please check back regularly.

Who does the ITF support?

The ITF seeks grant applications from trans-led groups worldwide, including existing and emerging trans-led organizations; collectives of trans people; and regional trans networks. There are no geographical restrictions, and applications from any region of the world will be considered. Priority will be given to trans communities facing greater levels of marginalization, and those who have had limited or no prior access to funding. Registered or unregistered groups can apply. A group’s annual operating budget must be less than $100,000 US Dollars (USD). You can find more information here.

The ITF has one funding cycle per year. Unsolicited requests for funding will not be reviewed.

What does “trans” mean to the ITF?

The ITF understands trans as a political term that defines the communities of people that we work with.  We use trans to define people whose gender identity or expression differs from their gender assigned at birth. Some of these people identify and present themselves as male or female; others identify with a non-binary gender category. These identities or expressions include trans women, trans men, fa’afafine, leiti, fakafifine, akava’ine, mahu,  vakasalewalewa, palopa, Sistergirls, Brotherboys, whakawahine, tangata ira tane, muxhe, omeguid, travesti, two spirit, hijra, bandhu, mangalamukhi, kinnar, thirunangai, thirunambi, khwaja sira, meti, katoey, waria, mak nyah, kua xing nan, trans laki-laki, transpinay, transpinoy, kwaa-sing- bit, and transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-binary, gender diverse, gender non-conforming, and agender people – to name just a few.

As part of the ITF’s commitment to self-determination and decolonizing bodily oppressions, we are permanently committed and open to recognizing gender identities that emerge and that our communities claim within their socio-political contexts. These arise from the ongoing work of resistance and liberation that involves both the remembering and reimagining of gender identities and expressions. The ITF does not privilege any one gender identity or expression over another, including those communities who do not have specific terms to describe who they are.

How do I know if our group is considered a “trans-led” group?

For the purposes of the ITF, a trans-led group is a group, organization, collective or network where trans people are in decision-making roles, including setting the organization’s strategic and financial priorities.

In order to be considered trans-led, trans people should make up 75% of the group’s staff, and Board, spokespeople, and/or decision-making body. If not, groups must demonstrate how trans people make budget, organizational and strategic decisions.

How can I apply for a grant?

The ITF has an open grant cycle once a year. Any group that fits the criteria should complete the application form. The ITF does not accept unsolicited applications and applications submitted outside the grant cycle will not be reviewed.

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