One Iowa among organizations to benefit from Ariana Grande’s trans youth fundraiser

Protester against the state law banning transgender girls from playing girls sport at school and universities, March 11, 2022. — Jason Smith/Little Village

In light of the International Transgender Day of Visibility and recent anti-trans legislation proposed and passed in states around the country, pop star Ariana Grande announced on Thursday the launch of her Protect & Defend Trans Youth Fund, to support 18 LGBTQ+ organizations that are “providing direct services and advocating for the rights of trans youth in states currently targeted by anti-trans policies.”

“Right now, there are hundreds of bills pending in state legislatures across the United States that target trans youth and aim to curb their rights,” Grande said on the online pledge page. “The impact of fighting these anti-trans bills and policies is felt all year by trans people, their families and loved ones.”

The fundraising campaign has a goal of $1.5 million, and was about 10 percent complete by Thursday afternoon. Grande has promised to match donations up to that goal, meaning at least $3 million would be distributed between the 18 orgs.

Among the beneficiaries is One Iowa.

Ariana Grande performs during the Dangerous Woman Tour in February 2017. — Emma Sheehan/Flickr

One Iowa was founded in 2005 amid the fight for marriage equality in Iowa. Same-sex marriage became legal statewide in 2009 with the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien, but One Iowa’s mission to “advance, empower, and improve the lives of LGBTQ Iowans statewide” was far from complete. In addition to providing visibility and resources to LGBTQ Iowans, they’ve advocated for more inclusive workplaces, health care and legislation. They also host the LGBTQ Leadership Institute.

One Iowa pushed back strongly against HF 2416, Iowa’s infamous trans sports bill, as it moved through the legislature last month. Ultimately, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law, restricting participation on all school or college girls sports teams in Iowa to those defined as female according to “the sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate” — a definition rejected by healthcare professionals and educators who addressed state lawmakers on HF 2416.

Keenan Crow, One Iowa’s director of policy and advocacy, said the bill only pretends to solve issues of inequality in women’s sports.

“Iowa hasn’t had a single incident of even alleged unfairness, let alone a documented case” created by the presence of a trans athlete, Crow reminded representatives.

“Women and girls continue to face unequal opportunities, inequitable funding, pay inequities, uneven media coverage driven by gender stereotypes, a lack of sponsorship opportunities, higher rates of sexual harassment and abuse, and incomplete implementation of Title IX in sports.” Crow added that One Iowa is happy to work with lawmakers to solve these real gender-based problems.

When the bill passed, One Iowa posted to social media, “This will be an extremely difficult time for transgender youth and their families. Please remember that if you or your family members need help we are just a call away.”

On Thursday, One Iowa said it was “honored” to be included in Grande’s fundraiser, which will also benefit organizations in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, South Dakota, Alabama and Texas.

One Iowa is co-presenting a Trans Lives Rally at the Iowa State Capitol on Sunday, April 3. The rally will gather on the west side of the building, facing downtown Des Moines, from noon to 1 p.m. and hear speeches from transgender Iowans.