Non-profit

Trans Lifeline

Website:

translifeline.org/

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Tax ID:

47-2097494

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $3,203,271
Expenses: $2,249,071
Assets: $2,772,503

Type:

Transgender Advocacy Organization

Formation:

2014

Interim Co-Executive Director:

Aisha Naseem

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Trans Lifeline (legally known as Translifeline) is an organization that supports transgender individuals through a dedicated phone help line, microgrants, and social activism. The group takes a far-left stance on transgender issues and the alleged cause of anti-transgender sentiment, attributing it to racism, colonialism, and various forms of bigotry.

Background

In 2014, Trans Lifeline was launched as a phone hotline for transgender individuals in need of physical- and mental-health support, staffed entirely by trans and nonbinary operators. 1 2

Activities

Trans Lifeline advocates for social and political change intended to support transgender individuals against perceived oppression stemming from a wide variety of social bigotries, including “a history of colonization, white supremacy, and genocide.” According to Trans Lifeline, transgender oppression takes the forms of “economic oppression,” “racism,” “xenophobia,” “criminalization,” and “ableism,” among other practices. The group claims that transgender individuals are specifically targeted by the police, are harmed by U.S. military interventions abroad, are hypersexualized, are cut off from mental healthcare support, and are disproportionately involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities. 3

Microgrants

In 2016, Trans Lifeline launched a “microgrants” program to support transgender and non-binary individuals with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), gender activism, asylum seeking, legal name changing, and other issues. As of March 2023, Trans Lifeline had disbursed over $1.1 million through microloans, over half a million of which went to incarcerated individuals. At that time, 75 percent of its microgrants went to racial and ethnic minorities “to dismantle barriers caused by white supremacy,” reflecting a policy change made in 2020 to address “disparate levels of privilege caused by colonialism, white supremacy, ableism, and transmisogyny by prioritizing racial equity.” 4 5 6

Nashville Shooting Response

On March 27, 2023, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, whom media reports identified as a transgender person, 7 went on a shooting spree in Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, killing three nine-year-old children and three adults before being shot and killed by police. As of late March 2023, the shooter’s motives were unknown, though official had stated that Hale’s manifesto would be released after examination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 8 9

The day after the shooting, Trans Lifeline published a blog post expressing sympathy for the victims and attributing the incident to gun violence and failures to provide mental health. Trans Lifeline warned the public that “far-right groups and lawmakers are preying on our country’s collective grief to further stoke outrage, fear, and stigma against trans people.” 10

Dismissal of Founders

Trans Lifeline was founded by Nina Chaubal and Greta Gustava Martela, two San Francisco-based software engineers. 11

In 2016, a Tumblr post levied a series of accusations against Trans Lifeline and its founders. The post alleged that the organization was “a huge scam meant to fund the founders’ personal lives” as evidenced by heavy use of organization funds for travel and applying an inflated valuation to volunteer hours. The post also charged that the hotline only trained its operators for two hours, only answered 19 percent of calls, scarcely returned calls, and refused to call medical personnel in cases of self-harm. 12 13

Trans Lifeline responded with a post on Medium defending Chaubal and Martela and the organization’s practices and attacked the Tumblr post for relying on research from Kiwifarms, a controversial internet forum often accused of harassment and bullying. The organization also defended its policy of refusing to call medical personnel, arguing that doing so may lead to involuntary commitment to mental health facilities. 14

Trans Lifeline launched an investigation into the financial conduct of its founders and concluded “there had been significant spending of Trans Lifeline funds outside the scope of the current budget” that “ran afoul of Trans Lifeline’s obligations to the 501(c)(3) tax laws.” Both founders left the organization. 15 Trans Lifeline’s 2017 tax disclosure states that Chaubal and Martela made $345,118 in unauthorized purchases. 16

Funding

In 2020, Trans Lifeline had a revenue of $3,203,271, spent $2,249,071, and had $2,392,141 in net assets. 17

Leadership

Interim co-executive director Aisha Naseem is the founder and head of Pathways Consulting, a DEI consulting group, and is an executive board member of the Muslim Alliance on Gender and Sexual Diversity. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of State, on the 2016 Democratic presidential primary campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and as a campaign manager for Represent.US. 18

References

  1. “Hotline.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/hotline/.
  2. “History.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/history/.
  3. “Issues.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/about/issues/.
  4. “Microgrants Equity Policy.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/microgrants/microgrants-equity-policy/.
  5. “History.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/history/.
  6. “Microgrants.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/microgrants/#faqs.
  7. Wallace, Danielle. “Nashville Police Find Suicide Note, Yearbooks, Weapons, Ammo at School Shooter Audrey Hale’s Home: Report.” Fox News. FOX News Network, April 4, 2023. https://www.foxnews.com/us/nashville-police-find-suicide-note-yearbooks-weapons-ammon-school-shooter-audrey-hale-home-report.
  8. Pagones, Stephanie. “Nashville shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto to be released after FBI review: official.” New York Post. March 29, 2023. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://nypost.com/2023/03/29/nashville-shooter-audrey-hales-manifesto-will-be-released/.
  9. “Nashville Shooting Police Say Shooter Was Under Doctor’s Care for ‘Emotional Disorder’.” New York Times. March 28, 2023. Updated March 29, 2023. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2023/03/28/us/nashville-school-shooting-tennessee
  10. “Transphobia ≠ Safety.” Trans Lifeline. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.org/transphobia-is-not-safety/.
  11. “Debunking Misinformation, a response to a recent Tumblr article.” Medium. November 15, 2016. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.medium.com/debunking-dispelling-myths-a-response-to-a-recent-tumblr-article-51ba607a4619.
  12. “Why you shouldn’t donate to Trans Lifeline.” Tumblr. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://lordhaurchefant.tumblr.com/post/153157029125/why-you-shouldnt-donate-to-trans-lifeline-ever.
  13. “Debunking Misinformation, a response to a recent Tumblr article.” Medium. November 15, 2016. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://translifeline.medium.com/debunking-dispelling-myths-a-response-to-a-recent-tumblr-article-51ba607a4619.
  14. “Why you shouldn’t donate to Trans Lifeline.” Tumblr. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://lordhaurchefant.tumblr.com/post/153157029125/why-you-shouldnt-donate-to-trans-lifeline-ever
  15. “Dear Friend.” Mail Chimp. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://mailchi.mp/7e458d932ab8/an-update-on-the-trans-lifeline-leadership-transition
  16. “TransLifeLine.” ProPublica. Accessed March 23, 2023.https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/472097494/201940289349300939/full
  17. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Trans Lifeline. 2020. Part I, lines 12, 18, 22.
  18. “Aisha Naseem.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 23, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/in/aisha-naseem-5a023a44/.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $3,203,271 $2,249,071 $2,772,503 $380,362 N $3,198,586 $0 $4,086 $176,606
    2019 Dec Form 990 $2,237,674 $1,686,725 $1,483,807 $91,454 N $2,227,195 $0 $10,703 $201,231 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $1,874,697 $1,282,619 $936,639 $95,235 Y $1,874,639 $0 $58 $151,566 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,138,387 $755,760 $277,119 $30,881 N $1,138,285 $0 $102 $118,423 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $501,136 $272,028 $251,363 $0 N $499,503 $0 $3 $60,000 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990EZ $127,745 $114,166 $22,255 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Trans Lifeline

    548 MARKET ST PMB 15337
    San Francisco, CA 94104-5401