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 In other words, biological sex must be superseded by subjective gender identity, to include options “outside the binary categories of male and female” (OSF 2014b).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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Follow the money: Trans billionaire makes new $1 million grant to Chicago pediatric transition clinic

UPDATE 7/13/16: The Tawani Foundation is actually an alternate name for the registered charity “Colonel IL James N Pritzker Charitable Distribution Fund.” See below for details.


How did it happen so fast? That’s what so many of us keep wondering: the complete saturation of the media, government policy, school systems, psychology and medicine with unwavering promotion of the notion that people can change sex—with or without medical transition.

A societal upheaval this big doesn’t happen without a lot of funding, and the money has been flooding into medical clinics, summer camps, and every other conceivable outpost of the transgender child initiative, with a seeming acceleration in the last 2 or 3 years.

One source of gushing cash is the Tawani Foundation via its billionaire CEO and Director, 66-year-old Colonel (ret.) James “Jennifer” Pritzker, one of several family heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, who announced a transgender transition a scant 3 years ago.

Forbes announcement

According to the 2013 announcement of Pritzker’s transition in Chicago Business, Pritzker’s net worth as of that year was roughly $1.5 billion. The article mentions Pritzker’s philanthropic work, including efforts to include transgender people in the military, Pritzker’s investment and real estate ventures, but nothing about child transition—even though Tawani’s money was used to launch the gender clinic at Lurie Children’s Hospital, an initiative announced several months before Pritzker came out as trans.

chicagobusiness bio

Oddly enough, the current website for the Tawani Foundation still, in 2016, makes no mention of that group’s ongoing philanthropic donations to the cause of transgendering children; all we see are military charities, military history, and a few museums.

tawani home page

Even under the grant guidelines (“not accepting inquiries at this time”) and grant history sections, there is no mention of the sizeable amount of Col Pritzker’s Hyatt Hotel fortune that has been devoted to the cause of transgender children. The annual reports section stops in 2012—the year before Pritzker’s transition was publicly announced.  A search of all grantees in that 2012 report does yield a $25K donation to Lurie Children’s Hospital for the “launch of new multi-disciplinary ‘gender management’ clinic,” as well as $9.5K to the Kinsey Institute for “the LGBT talk at Indiana University with Chaz Bono for Sexploration Week.”

Given the far larger June 2016 Tawani grant to the pediatric transition clinic at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, it’s very odd that there is zero evidence of current philanthropic giving to transgender causes on the Tawani Foundation website.  An exhaustive Internet search for more information on Tawani also came up empty, including the Illinois Attorney General’s database of charitable organizations–despite a clear statement on that website requiring philanthropic foundations to register with the state.


UPDATE 7/13/16: Further research reveals that Tawani is actually an alternate name for the private foundation registered as the “Colonel IL James N Pritzker Charitable Distribution Fund” (EIN: 300040386).  The so-named fund (with assets of around $50 million) filed with the state of Illinois and the IRS (latest filing 2014).

Tawani

The question arises: Why does Pritzker donate (and receive press accolades) under the Tawani name, which has no information on its website about grants made after 2012, while the legal entity continues to be registered under Pritzker’s male name, Colonel James N. Pritzker?


In addition to funding the Lurie Children’s gender clinic, in January of this year, the Chicago Tribune announced that Tawani donated $2 million to “the world’s first endowed academic chair of transgender studies” in Canada’s British Columbia. Global capital knows no national boundaries.

Chicago Trib donation annoucement

In June, Pritzker announced the $1 million grant to the Lurie Children’s Hospital “gender and sex development” program, run by Dr. Rob Garafolo, a US pioneer in pediatric transition:Lurie grant

 

“I am pleased to continue the Tawani Foundation’s support of the Gender & Sex Development Program at Lurie Children’s,” says COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Tawani Foundation President and Founder.  “The team at Lurie Children’s has done an excellent job of initiating and developing a program of local and national significance. Yet, there remains a compelling need for expanding access and developing comprehensive services for gender-nonconforming children and transgender youth. It is my hope that the community will join me in investing in the health and well-being of these young people.”

…“This gift is so important for the families we serve,” said Robert Garofalo…
“Col. Pritzker had the incredible foresight to invest seed funding in our program and I’ve been proud to shepherd its growth,” he continued. “We are now a national leader serving a diverse patient population of gender nonconforming and transgender youth from across the Chicago area and an increasingly broader regional reach. “

I’m struck by the now-common lumping of “gender nonconforming” with “transgender” in the Lurie announcement. This is becoming more and more common—broadening the definition of who fits under the trans umbrella. I’ve started to think of this as a sort of mission creep. Even the American Psychological Association has fused the “T” to the GNC, labeling anyone who doesn’t fit stereotypes as TGNC in its guidelines for how therapists should approach and treat kids.

Why do “gender nonconforming” children even need the services of a medical clinic which promotes medical transition? Gender nonconforming/gender defiant children need love and support, but do they need millions of dollars from a late-transitioning male-to-female billionaire to foster medical dependency and (likely) eventual sterilization?

One online Chicago news outlet dispensed entirely with the term “transgender” in announcing Pritzker’s big donation to the Lurie clinic:

 CHICAGO — The world’s wealthiest transgender person is backing a big fundraising campaign for nonconforming patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The Streeterville hospital, 225 E. Chicago Ave., said Thursday it was launching a $500,000 campaign for gender nonconforming patients in its Gender & Sex Development Program launched in 2013. It was the first such clinic in the Midwest upon its opening.

“Nonconforming patients.” If they’re “nonconforming,” why are they patients in the first place at a clinic that will help them “conform” to the opposite sex? Nonconformists don’t need hormones and surgeries to help them conform to sex stereotypes—do they?

Col. Pritzker is evidently not averse to continuing with a male identity in some online venues. A bio on the National Guard Educational Foundation website unapologetically refers to Pritzker under his male name.

NGEF bio

There is even a photograph of Col. Pritzker still linked on the NGEF website,  though it appears to have been removed from the bio page.

Pritzker NGEF jpeg

Having it both ways seems to be a hallmark of the trans movement: Society at large is supposed to accept that any man—no medical transition necessary–who believes he is a woman, even part-time, needs to be respected as such, yet we should all also be celebrating the idea that children as young as 12 should be put on cross-sex hormones, or have double mastectomies at 14. We’re supposed to accept that “some girls have penises” but at the same time accept that teens absolutely need to permanently alter their bodies with hormones and surgeries as early as possible.

In another trans-typical expression of having-their-cake-and-eating-it too, many proponents of pediatric transition are themselves biological fathers.  Pritzker is no exception; as several of the websites referenced in this post note, he has fathered three children. Why do so many of these late-transitioning fathers take such an interest in turning other people’s kids into lifelong, sterilized medical patients? It’s one thing to advocate for the civil rights of adult transgender people (as Pritzker’s foundation does for transgender military personnel and veterans). But this involvement in the ever-burgeoning pediatric transition clinics springing up all over the US? Does Pritzker wish, as so many MtoF trans-activists also claim, that he’d had access to estrogen and sterilizing surgeries as a teen? That would have meant, of course, that he’d never have been a father (nor experienced 63 years of life as a fully intact man).

If questions like these result in any soul-searching or cognitive dissonance for trans activists like Pritzker, we don’t hear about it. Maybe, in the case of a billionaire philanthropist, having your cake and eating it too is just all in a day’s work.