Philadelphia Transgender Collective Gets Grant for Prison Work

A Philadelphia group that unites transgender and gender-variant people living both inside and outside of prison walls got a vote of confidence — and a financial boost — from a local social-justice agency. Bread & Roses Community Fund awarded Hearts on a Wire Collective a $2,000 grant as part of its Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative, a donor-advised fund launched in 2000 that also awarded grants to 11 other area groups working on criminal-justice causes.

Hearts on a Wire was founded in 2007, when a group of trans and gender-variant people came together to send Valentine’s Day cards to T/GV people who were in prisons. From that initial gathering, a conversation was sparked about the issues facing T/GV populations both during and after incarceration.

“We started having a discussion about how prison work needs to include trans and gender-variant people, and how the people and organizations working on trans and gender-variant issues also need to be thinking about the people in prisons,” said Collective member Adrian Lowe. “We wanted to start bridging that gap.”

In the past few years, the Collective’s ranks have swollen to include a diverse group of T/GV people whose lives have in some way been affected by the prison system.

“The work they’re doing is amazing, and they’re the only ones doing it,” said Bread & Roses executive director Casey Cook.

Cook called the group’s report “astounding” and said the way in which the group operates also caught the attention of the funders.

Hearts on a Wire is an all-volunteer organization, and its members meet most of its expenses from their own pockets.

Lowe said the Bread & Roses funding is an “enormous” gift, which the Collective will use to cover aspects such as postage and printing of its newsletter.

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