By Susan Payne
San Francisco has launched a pilot program that guarantees income for transgender residents.
The Guaranteed Income for Transgender People (GIFT) will provide 55 residents with $1,200 a month for 18 months, including healthcare and financial coaching.
Applications closed in December. Residents will be selected by organizations helping to administer and shape the program, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“By giving low-income trans people the resources to cover the expenses they deem most immediate and important given each person’s unique situation, we are implementing a truly community-centered intervention to combat poverty,” Aria Sa’id told the LA Times. Sa’id is the president of the Transgender District.
Proponents of the program said trans people experience poverty at a higher rate than other Californians. The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey found that 33% of transgender Californians lived in poverty, disproportionate to the state’s poverty level at only 12%, according to the U.S. Census.
“Even with our rich history of trans advocacy, we see that trans San Franciscans experience poverty at exponentially higher rates compared to the general population,” Pau Crego, executive director of the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives, said in a press release about GIFT. “This is especially the case for trans people of color, disabled trans people, trans elders and other trans communities deeply impacted by discrimination.”
Sa’id told The Times that over 3,200 messages were received in response to the program, some of them hate mail, some of them activists.
By the first week of applications opening, Sa’id estimated that the program received 2,000 applications.
“I don’t think we were expecting that response … I’m so grateful we’re able to finally do this,” she said. “And at the same time, we can’t help everyone who has a demonstrated need and I think that’s what makes it bittersweet.”
GIFT is one of several basic income pilot programs in the city. Others are:
- Launched in 2020, the Abundant Birth Project provides pregnant Black and Pacific Islander residents with $1,000 per month from the first trimester to two years postpartum.
- Launched in 2021, the Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists provides 190 artists with $1,000 per month for 18 months.
San Francisco plans to launch two pilot programs in 2023 for youth, including those transitioning out of the foster care system, The Times reported in November.