This Pride Month, Let’s Invest in the LGBTQIA Community

By Ashley Burnside

It’s pride month, and I’m sure your social media newsfeeds are filled with rainbow logos and messages of LGBTQIA inclusivity. Pride is a time to celebrate the members of the LGBTQIA community and the strides we have made towards equality. It’s also a moment to mourn those we have lost to the AIDS epidemic, the Pulse massacre, anti-transgender violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a time for coming together, celebrating, and pushing for better policies and justice for our communities. Economic justice is one area where progress is sorely needed. LGBTQIA people, especially the transgender community and LGBTQIA people of color, face much higher poverty rates than their straight, cisgender counterparts. 

The transgender and broader LGBTQIA communities experience poverty at such high rates due, in part, to the systemic discrimination they face in employment, housing, education, and other areas of public life. Poverty can also stem from the rejection that LGBTQIA people face from their loved ones, leading to higher rates of homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues, and increased hardship throughout their lifetimes. Too often, LGBTQIA people are forced into low-paying jobs and not provided adequate benefits. 

We must invest in the LGBTQIA community. They need not just workplace anti-discrimination protections, but also a livable minimum wage. They need inclusive paid leave policies that recognize all kinds of caregiving and family arrangements, including chosen family.   

The San Francisco mayor is proposing to implement a new pilot program to provide a guaranteed income to transgender residents who have low incomes. If the program goes into effect, up to 150 transgender San Francisco residents would receive monthly payments of up to $1,000 beginning this fall, with no strings attached. The program would target Black and Latina transgender women participants, who face disproportionately high rates of poverty and violence.  

Guaranteed income programs promote financial stability and improve health outcomes. For example, results from the Stockton Economic Empowerment Development (SEED) basic income pilot found that recipients who received monthly income had less month-to-month income volatility, lower anxiety, and improved mental and physical health. More cities and localities should implement guaranteed income programs targeting the transgender community. And these programs should be led by and center transgender women of color. 

Over the past couple of decades, the LGBTQIA community has obtained many victories, like achieving marriage equality and key Supreme Court decisions on workplace anti-discrimination protections. But there is still work to do, particularly around financial security and economic justice. Poverty is a policy choice that we make. We can choose to invest in communities who have been marginalized and who face barriers to economic stability. This pride month, we should not just display rainbows, but also invest in LGBTQIA people.