After attending multiple vigils for various Black trans women who had been murdered in 2019, Devin Lowe was overcome with anger. The 27-year-old heard a lot of talk about the need to protect Black trans women as violence increased, but also noticed that people didn't actually do much to solve the problem.
Lowe, who is a Black, queer, transgender man desperately searched for solutions and started thinking about the conversations he has had with Black trans women through the years. As he remembered those conversations, Lowe realized that many trans individuals had expressed the need for housing, employment and transportation.
Although he didn't have the resources to provide people with homes or jobs, the New York resident found a unique way to help with transportation.
"I did know that I could certainly crowdfund in order to get some women car rides paid for so that they weren't having to take the train home late at night, a small thing that could make a big difference," Lowe told Blavity.
In June, the 27-year-old launched The Black Trans Travel Fund (BTTF), raising over $50,000 in donations.
"We have currently redistributed over $35,000, paying for over 700 car rides between more than 300 women in the last 6 months," Lowe said.
Women have already provided glowing testimonials about the program.
"What they're doing for the girls in our community is a great help to our daily survival and is greatly appreciated," one woman wrote on Facebook.
Another person said "I'm glad there's somewhere I and other Black trans can feel safe asking for help. Thanks for giving back to the community."
Lowe said the program collects funds through apps such as CashApp and Venmo, making the process simple for younger donors and minimizing the fees that must be paid to larger fundraising platforms.
"We also provide folks with the option to donate via PayPal, and if direct deposit is easiest people can contact us via email to set it up," he said.
BTTF is currently a three-person team, including Lowe as the executive director, Eli Berry St. John as social media manager and Morticia Godiva as applications manager. The organization is also in the process of bringing on more staff members. Lowe said the program plans to expand to other cities where it's most needed, such as Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
The killings of trans women of color are being considered an epidemic. At least 22 trans people were killed in 2019, and many of them were women of color, the Human Rights Coalition reported.
Lowe hopes to end the epidemic by providing safe transportation.
"The overall mission of the Black Trans Travel Fund is to help allies leverage their resources, and provide Black transgender women with the financial resources needed to be able to self-determine safer alternatives to travel, where they will be less likely to experience verbal harassment or physical violence," he said.
The 27-year-old moved from Texas to New York in 2013 to find a community that would help him navigate his transition as a Black, queer, transgender man. He started doing advocacy work after moving to New York, then began producing films to uplift the narratives of trans people. In 2017, Lowe began "running Trans-masculine support groups that focus on redefining and centering masculinity."
"I am 100% invested in helping my community to divest ourselves from the cis-hetero-patriarchal ideologies we’ve been taught that ultimately lead different forms of violence against us all," he said.
The New York resident said he plans to launch a newsletter for BTTF, which would highlight the work of Black trans women internationally, including art, music, literature, entertainment and policy work.
"I’m also helping to organize an intergenerational convening of 25 Black trans-masculine community leaders across the country to build solidarity across regions, and strategize ways to address the violence Black trans communities are facing, with a strong emphasis on how we as trans masculine folks can be in solidarity with Black trans women," Lowe said.