California City Moves Forward with Program to Guarantee Transgender Income

The Palm Springs City Council unanimously approved progression towards monthly payments of up to $900 to transgender and nonbinary residents to assist them in overcoming discrimination.

The city will allocate $200,000 to Queer Works and DAP Health to lay the groundwork of its first-in-the-nation program. Palm Spring city council member Christy Holstege said the program is a new way to “address poverty in this country by giving people money.”

Holstege adds that other government programs provide money but end up trapping recipients with restrictions. The Palm Springs approach, she says, allows residents to spend money as they see fit as “being the experts in (their) lives.”

Council member Dennis Woods says the funds target the “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community” and are part of the “values of Palm Springs, hands down.” Later phases of the project are anticipated to cost the city up to $1.2 million.

Mayor Lisa Middleton, the first transgender mayor in California history, admits to having doubts about the prospects of such a program run by city government.

Palm Springs is also rolling out the welcome mat for transgender youth and their families who feel threatened by laws in other states. State lawmakers last week indicated they plan to make California a “safe haven” for residents of states that prohibit gender transitioning medical procedures and treatments.

California has earmarked $35 million in funding for pilot programs to guarantee minimum incomes. Lawmakers unanimously approved the plan to provide no-strings-attached monthly payments to pregnant women and young adults just out of foster care.

Outside of California, guaranteed income programs have been announced in New Orleans, Louisiana; Tacoma, Washington; and Gainesville, Florida. What was once considered a novelty idea, when longshot Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed his so-called “Freedom Dividend” in the last election, has picked up steam and become a reality in some places across the country.

Pilot programs in California have almost exclusively targeted this or that minority group for the payments, including Marin County’s allocation of $1,000 a month strictly for non-white mothers. Now comes Palm Springs with payments for transgender and nonbinary residents. That massive rumbling noise you hear is our ancestors rolling over in their graves.