The Open Society Foundations & the transgender movement

by Michael Biggs

Michael Biggs is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Cross College. He researches social movements and collective protest.


The transgender movement has transformed cultural norms and social institutions at breathtaking speed. Most of us, becoming acquainted with the trans issue for the first time, are astonished to discover the extent of the gender revolution. The movement has accomplished in a few years what the movements for women’s and for gay and lesbian rights took many decades to achieve.

Part of the explanation is the amount of money behind transgenderism. The Gender Industrial Complex, as we may call it, has many components. Lucrative sponsorship comes from pharmaceutical companies and medical providers. Charities originally established to fight for homosexual rights (like Human Rights Campaign in the United States and Stonewall in Britain) wield large budgets. Last but not least, three American billionaires have bankrolled the transgender movement on a global scale: Jennifer Pritzker, whose activities were detailed in another blogpost, Jon Stryker, and George Soros.

This blogpost focuses on the Open Society Foundations (OSF), funded by Soros. This is not easy to discuss because he is vilified by right-wingers, whose criticism sometimes degenerates into anti-semitism (Williamson 2018). Therefore those of us who are liberal or progressive tend to react instinctively by dismissing any scrutiny of Soros out of hand. This is unjustified, as I will show by providing some facts about how OSF has funded the transgender movement.

OSF fully supports the objectives of transgender activists. Self-identification is “an essential legal right for trans people” (OSF 2014a). In other words, biological sex must be superseded by subjective gender identity, to include options “outside the binary categories of male and female” (OSF 2014b). Identity should not be “governed by age restrictions” (OSF 2014b). Therefore OSF funds “trans-led or LGBT organizations that promote progressive, rights-based processes for legal gender recognition” (OSF 2014a). It also advocates access to “hormonal therapy, counseling, and gender-affirming surgeries” on demand (OSF 2014a). This includes puberty blockers for youth (OSF 2013).

How much has OSF spent to promote the transgender movement? In 2011–13, it spent $3.19 million, which made it the top funder, followed by Stryker’s Arcus Foundation and Pritzker’s Tawani Foundation (Funders for LBTQ Issues 2015). OSF’s current database includes grants worth $3.07 million for 2016–17 (searching for keywords “trans” and “transgender”). The largest recipients in this current tranche are the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ($642,000), Global Action for Trans Equality ($500,000), and Transgender Europe ($500,000).

open society reception areaThree million dollars on trans issues is a tiny fraction of OSF’s total expenditure, merely 0.3% (OSF 2017). Crucially, however, this funding greatly exceeds the resources given to alternative voices. This website, for example, receives no funding. To illustrate the difference that money can make, consider the commemoration of the victims of violence.

As we saw, OSF gave $500,000 to Transgender Europe in the past two years. Transgender Europe also received $1,072,000 from the Arcus Foundation from 2010 to 2017 (Arcus Foundation 2018). The organization’s projects include the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is underpinned by a comprehensive database of victims throughout the world, Trans Murder Monitoring. This database counted 325 trans victims of violence in year from October 2016 to September 2017 (TMM 2017). The great majority of these occurred in Central and South America. There were only three in Western Europe, and thankfully none in the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, perhaps, the Transgender Day of Remembrance was widely observed in Britain in November 2017. In many universities, for example, candles were lit for each of the victims, the transgender flag was raised, speakers were invited, and services held. Searching university websites (the domain .ac.uk), we find over 2,800 webpages containing the phrase “Transgender Day of Remembrance”.

While no transgender person was murdered in the United Kingdom in 2017, 138 women were killed by men, including murders where a man was the principal suspect (Smith 2018). These data were compiled by Karen Ingala Smith, who receives no funding for this work. She started recording such deaths in 2009, under the rubric of Counting Dead Women. This was developed into the Femicide Census—in partnership with Women’s Aid—with minimal funding and pro-bono support by two legal firms (Femicide Census 2016).

Despite the diligent research over many years, this has left barely a trace in British universities. The equivalent search on their websites yields fewer than a hundred webpages containing the phrases “Femicide Census” or “Counting Dead Women”.

To sum up, more than a hundred women are murdered each year in the United Kingdom at the hands of males, but no day has been set aside to commemorate their deaths. Transgender murders are exceedingly rare—eight in the past decade (Trans Crime UK 2017; Evening Standard 2018)—and yet they have an institutionalized day of remembrance. Even if we consider the homicide rate rather than the number of homicides, Nicola Williams demonstrates that transgender people are no more likely to become victims than are women (Fairplay for Women 2017).

The prominence of transgender victims, compared to the virtual invisibility of female victims, is partly explained by the amount of resources devoted to compiling evidence and promoting commemoration. Thus funding from large American charities like OSF—along with the Arcus and Tawani Foundations—shapes the political climate in Britain and around the world.


References

All but one (indicated by *) have been archived on the Internet Archive.

Arcus Foundation. Grantees in Europe, Focusing on Social Justice, Beginning with T. https://www.arcusfoundation.org/grantees/?_paged=&focus=Social+Justice+Grants&amount=default&_year=default&location=Europe&post_title_start_with=T#scroll-anchor-1

Evening Standard. 2018. ‘Hounslow stabbing’, 22 March 2018. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/tributes-paid-to-victim-found-stabbed-to-death-in-hotel-near-heathrow-a3796261.html *

Fairplay for Women. 2017. How Often Are Transgender People Murdered? https://fairplayforwomen.com/trans-murder-rates/

Femicide Census. 2016. Profiles of Women Killed by Men: Redefining an Isolated Incident. https://1q7dqy2unor827bqjls0c4rn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The-Femicide-Census-Jan-2017.pdf

Funders for LBTQ Issues. 2015. TRANSformational Impact: U.S. Foundation Funding for Trans Communities. http://www.lgbtfunders.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/TRANSformational_Impact.pdf *

OSF. 2013. Transforming Health: International Rights-Based Advocacy for Trans Health. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/transforming-health-20130213.pdf

OSF 2014a. Explainers: An Essential Legal Right for Trans People. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/explainers/essential-legal-right-trans-people

OSF. 2014b. License to Be Yourself: laws and Advocacy for Legal Recognition for Trans People. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/license-to-be-yourself-20140501.pdf

OSF. 2017. Open Society Foundations 2017 Budget Overview. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/open-society-foundations-2017-budget-overview-20170202.pdf

Smith, Karen Ingala. 2018. 2017. https://kareningalasmith.com/2017/02/12/2017/

Trans Crime UK. 2017. Trans Homicides in the UK: A Closer Look at the Numbers. http://transcrimeuk.com/2017/11/16/trans-homicides-in-the-uk-a-closer-look-at-the-numbers/

Trans Murder Monitoring. 2017. TDoR 2017 Update. http://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/TvT_TMM_TDoR2017_SimpleTable_EN.pdf

Williamson, Kevin D. 2018. “An Epidemic of Dishonesty on the Right.” National Review, Feb. 22. https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/parkland-shooting-hoax-latest-right-dishonesty-epidemic/

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29 thoughts on “The Open Society Foundations & the transgender movement

  1. Now we talking about the real reasons why transgender topic is so popular. It’s always been money. The rich people invented laws to cover up their money-making organization by experimenting on young people who are biologically not capable to make logical decisions. It is easy to set up a trap for them. Give them the legal right to take hormones and destroy their bodies and lives , get them to sign all necessary documents, and it’s done! In court there will be proof of the agreement to proceed with treatment and billions of dollars are made by sergical and hormonal interventions. Plus, all that probably contributed to an ongoing experiment on humans.
    It must be considered the crime against humanity! Manipulation and deception of young teens who are simply not capable to think straight. It is a fact that adolescents’ emotional state is worse than little children’s.The psychologists know this! The scientists know this! It is the same if we started giving driving licenses to toddlers! They will sign all the forms by their hand prints, it’ll do! To let teenagers decide to become a different gender before 25 is a crime! Even 25 year – olds should be evaluated thoroughly and seriously and for a long time.

    Thank you, for this information!
    I knew it was a political corruption plus economy “ boost” ! Such a inhuman way to get rich ! Such hypocritical attitude: to stop discrimination against transgender! And it’s all to simple make money!
    Nightmare!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I recognise the temptation to use the theory that the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25 to protect young people. But in my opinion this kind of infantalising of the population and general lowered expectations of humanity is part of what makes them vulnerable to things like transgender ideology in the first place.

      Like

      • Thank you, Darkest Yorkshire!
        The vulnerability is why I hate this whole transgender movement. Adolescents are such a easy target because of their amygdala overdevelopment, which makes them so emotional, unstable and easily accepting new ideas. The adolescents’ crisis is to fit in and be diffiat the same time. I am horrified to see how this movement “ played” this fact! The teenagers are supported at schools and in the society and that creates a new type of “ gang” which children can use as a part of their identity. If children didn’t fit in in other popular group at school, the transgender is a way out! Then those poor confused children get reinforced by all attention and “ movement “ to protect them and their brains connect the neuronal paths that transgender is cool and awesome and transgender is unique and everyone should be aware of their” protected species “phenomenon in the society. It is sad, how the rich used this vulnerability to their advantage.
        It is scary because before 25 years old children are given power to experiment on themselves by the people who are supposed to protect them from harm. Instead, they take advantage of them a proclaim their movement as freedom and anti- discrimination ( what society loves), – that is the hypocritical part … Hitler did that to his population and the younger people were during those days, the harder it was for them to realize that Jews were actually people… That is the danger of the underdeveloped brains. The information becomes implicit , and I am afraid our young children are headed that direction. And no one has power or money to start the opposite movement….

        Liked by 1 person

    • @Rod.
      Stats on men’s deaths seems like an important database to start up/ investigate as well. Every life lost is a disgrace. But really stats on numbers doesn’t answer the supposed why. That would be useful as well.

      Like

  2. Thank you for this. As the author points out, any mention of the funders and main drivers behind the transgender rights movement is generally met with cries of right-wing paranoia, if not outright tinfoil-hattery. While Soros and his brethren may well be frequent targets of the right, this fact should not immunize them from critical attention from all corners. It seems apparent to me that, while Soros himself may be entirely unaware of where this portion of his money is going (it’s a rounding error so far as he’s concerned), some of the folks who work for him, aren’t. And from their perspective it’s money well spent.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What I think is missing from this article is why Soros and/or OSF is funding this movement. I have my own suspicions but would like to know what the author thinks, as well as where he thinks all this is heading. Appreciated the research.

    Liked by 5 people

    • My particular suspicion is that it’s a transhumanist endeavor for which the whole transgender thing is merely a wedge. Yeah, of course there is interim money in the “confirmation” surgeries (pretty often a multi-procedure endeavor)and in chemical treatment (though T and estrogen are pretty cheap; the real money there is in the Lupron).

      Influential transwoman Martine Rothblatt of United Therapeutics (and creator of Sirius satellite radio) is frank about these transhumanist ambitions. Rothblatt is a proponent of the “Terasem” religion that aims to make people into God or gods, via technology. And obviously to live forever, likely as some kind of human-machine hybrids. With many interim steps abetted by biopharma and surgeries, natch. From body reshaping as consumerism, to creating a whole new species, the possibilities are endless.

      The notion that you can turn a male into a female human and vice versa is just the beginning, IMO. (And I also think that there are transactivists out there who are dying to figure out how to leverage the fact that transmen are advised to get complete hysterectomies five years into transition in order to mitigate cancer risk. That’s a lotta wombs that could theoretically be repurposed to make mommies out of transwomen, yeah?)

      I know, I know. It all sounds very tinfoil hat, illuminati, blah blah blah. But IMO this is the deep root of the reason there is money here.

      Liked by 5 people

      • And that’s how they want to sell it to the right: if it can be bought and sold, therefore it’s capitalism.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Does anyone other than me suspect that part of the motivation is population control? By getting as many kids as possible to undergo treatments that eliminate their ability to reproduce, the transgender movement advances the agenda of those who think there are too many human beings on the planet.

      I remember 50 years ago reading books like “The Population Bomb” and “The Environmental Handbook,” and getting kind of creeped out over some of the policy recommendations they contained for stopping/reversing population growth. The authors seemed to have no qualms about using coercion to achieve their goals, and very little respect for human rights. Getting large numbers of teenagers and pre-teenagers to submit to being sterilized (under the guise of treating gender dysphoria) would be a dream come true for these folks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is what I was saying too!!
        How nice to find a support and co-thinker:)
        I have the same exact thoughts!!
        Thank you!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I should have read all of the comments before I made mine — there were in fact several other commenters who made this same point farther down the page. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is an important component of the whole pro-transition ideology.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s in part a massive brainwashing and gaslighting project. If you can get the general population to believe that the sky is fuschia – and that woman can have “penises” – against common sense and better judgment, you can feed any sort of crap and propaganda down their throats.

      That, and you can make a lot of money off of hormone therapy, body modifications, implants, and the coming transhuman cybernetic technologies.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Thank you for this post. I’d like to know how much money goes to universities to fund support for LGBT….which then ends up being mostly support for T. My trans-identifying-female college student’s trip to an oSTEM conference (https://www.ostem.org/) was all-expense paid. I wonder if the university also pays all expenses for all of their students to attend professional conferences….I doubt it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m coming to the conclusion that more is going on here than just everyday capitalism. Obviously there is a phenonenal amount of money to be made by those directly involved. Those like Soros are also looking for new investment opportunities. That’s why they support transgenderism, decriminalisation of sex work and drug legalisation. There is an investment crisis in capitalism and these all represent potential newly legal and profitable places to put their money.

    But there is another layer to this. It’s become common on our side to say there are only two genders, but this is a historical fact, not a metaphysical truth. The ruling class could have gone with a multi-gender system if they wanted to. There is an interesting parallel with race. In America there was the One Drop Rule where anyone with any black ancestors at all was considered black. Conversely in colonial Latin America there was the Casta system with over a hundred different racial classifications for every possible mix of heritages. Each had their own rights, roles, stereotypes and laws attached to them. It didn’t make colonialism, racism and slavery any better, just really confusing.

    It seems the ruling class could be trying to shift to a Gender Casta system. The question is why would they risk giving up on a two-gender system that has worked so well for them, and why now? There are some basic capitalism reasons – divide and conquer, extra marketing categories to sell to. Transhumanism is a possibility. Another claim I heard is the motivation is certain occult and spiritual beliefs held by a significant portion of the ruling class. I don’t know about either of these, but will say the culture of the elites has been developing now for centuries. Who can say what they may have come to believe behind closed doors in those years?

    There is a theory that the massive social changes of the 60s were actually set going by the CIA and similar organisations because factions in the ruling class needed to disrupt the relatively stable post-war society in order for neoliberalism to run wild. I personally don’t believe that, I think the 60s was a real social movement but the ruling class adapted quickly, saw their chance and took it. But this may be part of what transgenderism is – a shattering of normality to create the new kind of people and society the next generation of capitalism needs. I’ve said before that capitalism’s ideal citizen-consumer is a cross between an addict and a fanatic, and transgenderism moves people a long way in that direction.

    So this isn’t just a moneymaking scheme. It fits all the criteria for being a mind control and social engineering programme that will certainly serve capitalism well, but who knows what else it is meant to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What you are saying is probably true as well. Which makes think – what if behind those closed doors the rich use the transgender movement to make money and at the same time to solve the problem of overpopulation? The transgender people are rarely happy after transitioning and often commit suicide, they get sick and their bodies fall apart and they cannot have children. And the beauty is that the rich have protected themselves by the signed consent and a moto of “ freedom “ or whatever Moto that the society likes the most at the time…
      The global warming is real, the overpopulation is real… This way the rich” kill two birds with one stone”: reduce the population and make money to themselves to be even more rich among the “ reduced” population. They also “ kill the third bird” by being “ hero’s” who protect the minority of transgender! Such “ saints” !!!!

      ( Sorry for all misspelling and autocorrections by the phone, I cannot scroll up and down for some reason to read it through:) )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Populations in the west are already in decline, birthrate is below replacement in many countries. As the TG cult is not yet on the rise in developing countries, this seems less than likely as an answer to Why.

        Like

  6. I was also thinking about why transgender activism leans so heavily on narratives of self harm, suicide, violence and murder. It’s a two-prong strategy.

    The suicide part is obviously grossly irresponsible and unethical – you do not ever suggest or imply suicide to vulnerable young people. It’s a way to bludgeon parents and other responsible adults into compliance. Like other marketing to children it’s ‘pester power’, but refined to its ultimate form.

    The heavy emphasis on violence and murder confused me if they are trying to convince people that being trans is a good thing. But then I realised: it’s a martyrdom cult. The suffering is part of the sales pitch. It sounds insane but that kind of recruiting works for the Islamists as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Maybe England is an exception. Your facts don’t apply to the US. Here, many universities recognize violence against women in multiple ways including Take Back the Night marches and Dinestic Violence Prevention month activities.
    Here, hate crimes, especially against trans women of color, are significant and often under-reported by police. The Trans Day of Remembrance helps increase awareness of a serious problem.
    On either side of the Atlantic, I don’t think it’s helpful to argue that some victims of violence are getting too much attention. Hate crimes affect us all. The efforts to stop it are connected.

    Like

  8. I don’t find it surprising that the Open Society Foundation spends a tiny fraction of their budget for transgender rights activism. Just like in the rest of the liberal world, surely there are some people working for the OSF who think that transgender rights are really important. After all, even if we know how problematic the aims of trans activists are, de facto they are a part of the spectrum of liberal activism, and the OSF funds liberal activism in general. And it’s not like trans funding of the Open Society Foundation is aimed at shaping the public view via enormous PR spending, it’s spread all over the world in tiny pieces.

    I’d say it’s just a part of the big amount of free PR the trans movement gets, because people who glance over what they do get reminded of the fight for gay rights or something and think “Hm, why not?”. I think that is the reason why the trans movement was so successful in the last 5 years. It also speaks the language of certain kinds of liberal activism very well, so it gets access to the channels of intersectional feminism, anti racist and gay rights activists. Especially the last group has needed a new cause in the USA, since they won gay marriage in the supreme court and acceptance from a big part of the population. And in the universities, trans activism has had a foothold in gender studies and related subjects since at least 10 years.

    Combine that with the media’s obsession for superficialities and dramatic life changes, and you get our current trans activism. That’s the reason why we are here now, and not some measly PR spendings

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am a low-level clerical worker for a very liberal activist organization in a very (seemingly) conservative area of the USA. In the past 5 years or so, we’ve gone from working with all kinds of left/liberal issues to focusing almost exclusively on LGBTQ issues, which in turn has become extremely focused on transgender issues and then on “abolishing the gender binary” which apparently is the root of all evil, not that it’s ever explained to a mere secretary like me.

    Is there a book like “Why the Gender Binary is Evil for Dummies”?

    Anyway, I’m trapped in this job for a variety of reasons, but I’m slowly figuring out how to spring the trap. In the meantime, I would be humbly grateful to know what, if anything, the parents here would have me do when I see my employer advocating for giving hormones to prepubescent children and putting ending the gender binary above oh, say, bringing back old-fashioned usury laws. Also, is there a way I can make my small donation towards helping you parents?

    Liked by 7 people

  10. As for the anti-Semitic rants against George Soros, I would hardly permit them to keep me from a critique of Soros. He was (and is, as far as I know) extremely supportive of the coup in Ukraine against the elected government, in which right-wing extremists carrying swastikas played and continue to play a large part. And I was glad to see another commenter speak to his support of prostitution, in particular pimps and brothel owners. Soros is one of those “liberals” actual liberals might want to disavow!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Very interesting stuff. I’ve certainly noticed that “LGBTIQ” grants rounds nowadays seem to focus either on trans issues or on a “one size fits all” approach (with a big component of trans issues). If any interventions are being funded for specifically lesbians, I’ll eat my hat. I’m sure it comes down to money and profit somehow; there’s no money to be made out of telling young homosexual women that they’re perfectly fine as they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: How the heck did we end up here? |

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