"I’ve just applied. Now what?"
Please note that this content pertains only to our financial aid programs, and not our binder or tucking garment programs.
If you're considering applying to one of our financial aid grant programs, or if you just applied, this guide serves to provide complete context and transparency on our processes and what comes next.
This guide is lengthy by design: we wanted to be transparent about why we do things the way we do, what goes into running these programs, and what your likelihood of receiving funding is. We also wanted to address the frequently asked questions and messages we receive specific to our financial aid programs.
The application process
First, each program cycle starts with an application period. The length and timing of these periods vary depending on the program, but typically, you'll have 4 weeks or longer to submit your application. For accessibility, each program has an Instruction Packet available year-round, so you can review all the questions on our form and think about your responses ahead of time.
- Annual Trans Surgery Fund Instruction Packet
- HRT Access Fund Instruction Packet
- Electrolysis Support Fund Instruction Packet
For help as you navigate our application process, you may list someone else on the application as your liaison, translator, or support person. This person will be CC'd on all email notifications regarding your application status. Access can be revoked at any time by the applicant by contacting us.
The review process
From there, applications are “shuffled” into randomized packets of 50 applications for review. The person assigned to review your application won't know who you are, or whether you applied in the beginning or end of the application period. They are reviewing your application based on your answers, and not when you pressed “Submit.” That way, applicants who have inconsistent or unreliable access to devices and/or Internet are not impacted by unconscious bias.
The packets are then distributed to our Board of Directors and Community Grantmaking Fellows (CGFs) for review. You can learn more about our CGFs here. All CGFs identify as transgender (FTM, MTF, non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and all other non-cis identities.)
In general, depending on the program and the volume of applications we receive, it takes 4-12 weeks for our team to review all applications and select grant recipients.
We use email to notify all applicants of progress and any changes in their application status. We also have a Program Status dashboard to provide approximate timelines and more information.
- If you are selected as a finalist, or if our reviewers determine they need additional information, you will be contacted via email. You may be invited to submit additional writing samples and/or participate in a brief phone or online interview.
- If you are selected as a recipient, we will contact you again via email or phone regarding next steps. The full details of your award will be explained in your recipient agreement.
Point of Pride is almost entirely a volunteer team. That means for the roughly 10 hours a week that our Board Members and CGFs dedicate to Point of Pride work, they are not getting compensated. All of our members also have jobs and families and commitments outside of Point of Pride. Our process could go faster if we paid our reviewers, but we have decided to reserve our funding for recipient grants. We also believe working at a sustainable pace is vital for the folks doing this work.
Our programs by the numbers
Something we hear often is, “If Point of Pride really cared, they would fund every single applicant." In our team meetings, we often say to one another how badly we wish we could fund every single applicant. If it were up to us, Point of Pride as we know it would not exist—because in an ideal world, every trans person would have access to the comprehensive, life-saving care that they need and deserve.
The reality is that, financially, we are not even close to being able to support every applicant.
We rely on our generous donors and sponsors to support each person we can. The majority of our funding comes from people giving what they can—the average donation we receive is $35 or less. Even with support from donors, sponsors, and grants, the need for these services far outpaces what we can currently provide.
We tend to use the language “extremely limited funds,” and we want to offer some context about what that means. For perspective, we want to share some numbers from past cycles.
For our 2023 Annual Trans Surgery Fund, we had 1,063 applicants. If we use procedure cost estimates based on the procedures those folks requested, the average grant per person would be $43,000. To fund every applicant for this single cycle would therefore require nearly $46 million dollars. Of the 1,063 applicants, we had enough funds to award 17 recipients grants, or less than 2%.
Looking at our 2022 HRT Access Fund, we received 298 applications and awarded 45 recipients (15%.) The average grant was approximately $2,200. Using that average as a baseline, it would cost over $655,600 to award every applicant of this single cycle—nearly 3 times our total operating budget for the year across all cycles and programs.
The process of operating any one of our financial aid programs is incredibly hard for everyone involved, applicants and reviewers. We have a saying amongst our team that awarding recipients is both the hardest and the most rewarding work. The most rewarding because we understand what a significant, life-changing impact this can have on people's lives, but also the most challenging because we know that for every applicant funded, there are so many other deserving candidates who need support from us that we simply cannot provide.
Thanks to the unbelievable, impactful support of Mercury Stardust's TikTok-a-Thon fundraiser, we are on a path to expand access to more applicants across all programs than ever before.
Lastly, we are proud to share that we are certified as a Guidestar Platinum non-profit and a Charity Navigator 4-star non-profit–the highest levels of recognition from each platform. This means that we maintain the highest standards of transparency and accountability. These certifications are not one-time processes either: to maintain them, we must continue to demonstrate that we are doing what we say we are doing. We don’t want to just be transparent with organizations like Guidestar or Charity Navigator though: our priority is to be transparent with you, someone seeking our help.
Past performance is not a predictor of future results, and our ability to fund applicants can vary significantly from cycle to cycle based on many different factors. We will continuously strive to have the resources to fund as many applicants as possible and advocate for change that makes access to healthcare more achievable for our community.
Being bias aware
There has been increased attention on conversations around unconscious or implicit bias, and we recognize that this might be a new term for you or you may have been having conversations about it for a long time (or somewhere in between!) Bias is an unavoidable part of our processes, but that’s not necessarily an intentional or bad thing.
We use the term “implicit bias” or “unconscious bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. These biases are formed over our lifetimes through direct and indirect messages. Everyone possesses them, even people with strong commitments to treating others fairly. These biases are not fundamentally good or bad on their own but they may create circumstances that can negatively impact others or lead to harmful behavior. The more we expose ourselves to ideas, images, and words that challenge these stereotypes, the more we are able to identify these moments. Identifying moments of unconscious bias is a life-long journey.
“What do you mean by being 'bias aware?'”
Being “bias aware” means taking the time to unpack what our own biases are, as well as considering ways in which certain communities have been historically excluded.
While some organizations use the phrase “underrepresented communities,” we believe that this language diminishes the intentionality and extent of the way that these communities were systematically disadvantaged. Unfortunately, within the United States, there is an extensive history of mistreating BIPOC communities, such as the massacres of Indigenous populations, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Redlining (a process where Black citizens were unable to live in certain areas, which caused a cascading effect in numerous ways), Japanese internment, and many, many other instances of wide-spread, systematic harm. We are also aware of the harm that colonialism and patriarchy continue to have, especially on trans women.
At Point of Pride, we are committed to doing what we can to uplift members of our community who have been harmed by the legacy of these exclusionary policies and practices. Being bias aware means considering these factors when reviewing an individual’s application.
“But I’m white: does this mean that I won’t be selected for funding?”
We certainly hear this question a lot, and we hope that providing some clarity around our process of being bias-aware will help folks understand how we consider demographic responses. (If you are unfamiliar, demographics are things like age, race, disability status, veteran status, and gender identity, amongst other things.)
Each application is assessed based on the unique circumstances of the applicant. We do not have quotas for specific demographics when reviewing applications, and we do not deny applicants based on race or other demographics.
Often, donors or grantmaking institutions who support our work will require how they want their funds distributed: sometimes, their support is earmarked for a specific program, a demographic, or a combination of the two. (For example, a grant that requires us to support trans youth aged 18-24 living in the rural South, or a major donor who wishes to support trans femmes in need of permanent hair removal services.)
When we honor these requests, we try to be transparent about the context and funding sources. We also try to use our unrestricted funding sources as strategically we can to ensure all members of our community are served.
While larger percentages of white applicants do go unfunded, white applicants also make up the largest percentage of applicants. The number is higher not because we have a policy of turning down white applicants, but because as noted elsewhere, we simply do not have the resources to fund everyone.
Ultimately, this is an incredibly complicated conversation, and we are committed to continuing to do our best to hold the tension between uplifting those harmed by exclusionary policies and practices, while also assessing the unique circumstances of every applicant.
The “whys” behind our processes
We’ve made some difficult decisions around elements of our process, and implemented what we hope to be significant improvements over the years. We hope by being radically transparent with you about how we reached these decisions, we can continue to hear your feedback and refine for the future. (We invite you to complete a survey at the end of this post to share your feedback.)
“Why do you have character limits?”
It can be really challenging to summarize your unique experiences to fit a character limit. When we've tried longer character limits, it has drastically increased the amount of time it takes our reviewers to process every application. The way our schedule of programs operate across the year, our reviewers typically go from one program cycle to the next without a break. To help ensure that we’re able to continue to run all our programs successfully and on schedule, these limits on response length are the necessary compromise.
If you’re struggling to respond in the space allotted, we recommend practicing in a separate text editor that displays character counts. On your first pass, focus on saying what you want to say without worrying about the limit. For some people, it might be helpful to use free speech-to-text software to get started. Then, go back and see if there are ways that you can remove extra words or move sections to a different area of an application.
We also recommend focusing on your unique experiences and situation, as our reviewers are all trans/of trans experience themselves and therefore familiar with some of the challenges faced in society when it comes to accessing care and feeling safe.
If possible, consider asking a friend to help review your application. They might be able to make suggestions around how to say things more clearly or in a shorter space.
“Why can’t I edit my application after submitting it?”
We receive a high volume of applications, and we are committed to keeping our reviews process timely. Therefore, our grantmaking committee begins reviewing applications before a cycle ends: sometimes, applications are sent to reviewers the same day they have been submitted. This means we cannot accept edits after submission, though if you are selected as a finalist, you will have an opportunity to edit or update any important information at that time.
We share all application form questions in advance in our Instruction Packets. That way, you have extra time and opportunity to write your responses and check them before submission. Links to each Instruction Packet can be found in the above section, "The application process."
“Why do you require written responses instead of other formats, like video recording?”
Some applicants have reached out asking if they could submit a video response instead of a written one. We recognize this is important to applicants who use assistive technology, who may be living with certain disabilities, or who simply prefer to express themselves through a different medium. The short answer in why we currently require written responses is that we are trying to be bias aware.
Not every applicant has access to devices that allow for video or audio recording. (A significant percentage of our applicants experience housing insecurity and a number of them rely on public spaces like libraries for access to the Internet, potentially making this process inaccessible.)
Plus, allowing some applicants to submit a video application while others submit a written application introduces the possibility for unconscious bias: someone with access to high-quality equipment who is comfortable appearing on camera could be scored as a more compelling candidate at the expense of an other applicant who has a circumstance (like no access to equipment, dysphoria/anxiety that prevents them from appearing on camera.) Instead, we focus on what you share with us, and not how you write it. Check the above section, "The application process," for info on using a support person for help.
“Why do you fully fund some applicants instead of providing smaller amounts of funding to more applicants?”
This is a great question that comes up often in our own team meetings. One thing that isn’t always obvious from the outside is that there can be a lot of moving pieces in getting gender-affirming care. People can lose their jobs, move, survive natural disasters, experience the end of relationships, become parents or primary caregivers, and so on. All of these things can have an impact on their finances and their ability to afford or even simply make time for surgery and post-op recovery.
If we awarded smaller award amounts to more recipients, when these life events inevitably occur, we create a heartbreaking situation: we've given false hope to recipients. Someone who needed $10,000 to access surgery, for example, cannot realistically use a smaller $2,000 award if they suddenly lost their employment and have no means of making up the difference of $8,000.
Our grants awards are designed to bridge the gap between where applicants were in their savings (if applicable) and the total expense of the healthcare needs or procedure they were seeking. For this reason, grant awards sometimes vary widely.
"Why is the application only in English? What if English isn’t my first language?"
As a non-profit that serves applicants in over 100 countries and counting, language translation is something we continue to discuss and explore.
In looking at the members of our community who didn’t speak English as a first language, Spanish was the second most prevalent language and the first one that we explored. In speaking with people who specialize in what’s called “localization” we quickly realized that there were some significant concerns.
First, localization is different than translation. Translation is the process of taking text from one language and creating an equivalent text in the target language. However, trying to create that equivalent text can be complicated. For instance, looking at words like “sidewalk” or “bathtub,” there could be several different options depending on the country. When a machine translates text, it might not pick the option for “sidewalk” or “bathtub” based on the country the reader is in, but a best approximation based on frequency. In general, though, people understand that a machine translation will not be perfect. Localization would be the process of creating different copies of the text that matched the unique vocabulary of the target region, as well as other considerations like the level of formality or informality of language in that region. Point of Pride does not have the resources to provide localization.
Next, it’s important to recognize that language keeps changing and shifting. For example, right now there are a lot of discussions around the ways that words can exclude people or are based on harmful traditions, practices, or sayings. If we elected to provide translations on our website, we would need to constantly be assessing the language that we used in light of these ongoing learnings. Falling to provide thoughtful and sensitive content in the target language is an important consideration. As we explored the idea of translating our content, we realized that there was a greater risk of creating unintentional harm out of our own ignorance than we were okay with. Ultimately, we decided that not offering translations of our site and resources would be the better course of action to manage user expectations.
If English is not your first language, we encourage you to apply in your native language or get the help of a support person. Check the above section, "The application process," for info.
"Why don’t you accept applications from people under the age of 18?"
In recent years, we have seen an onslaught of anti-trans legislation in the United States; many of these bills have centered on restricting access to healthcare for trans youth under the age of 18 (regardless of whether or not they have the consent of parents or guardians.)
These proposed and passed laws violate our inherent human rights to access the healthcare we deserve, and go against the guidelines agreed upon by every major medical association and the WPATH guidelines for care.
However, these laws have forced healthcare providers and organizations alike to change their policies to protect themselves and their patients from lawsuits and, in some cases, potential imprisonment.
Ultimately, we cannot accept minors to our financial aid programs because it would jeopardize our non-profit status, healthcare providers would likely turn underage recipients away, and underage recipients and their families may also be at risk.
This can be especially heartbreaking because we recognize the benefit of receiving gender-affirming care as soon as possible. Now and in the future, when possible as permitted by law, we work to accept applications from people of all ages.
“Can I snail-mail you an application?”
Point of Pride is an entirely distributed team, and almost entirely volunteer-operated. Because of this, our reviewers collaborate entirely online. It also helps with applicant security and privacy, which is a top concern of ours. Therefore, we require digital applications which can be anonymized and distributed to our reviews committee.
If you lack reliable access to the Internet or do not consider yourself tech savvy, we recommend you get the help of a support person. Many of our applicants also go to public libraries or LGBTQ+ centers that have computer labs to submit their applications and check their email. Check the above section, "The application process," for info on using a support person for help.
“Can you text or call me about the status of my application, instead of email?”
We’ve explored several different methods of communicating with applicants, including through text and phone calls. Based on their feedback and our own tests, we found that phone calls and text were significantly more time-consuming for our volunteers and even less likely to yield a response. Additionally, some applicants were concerned about security and whether or not the phone calls and texts we were sending were legitimate, given the rise of phishing and phone scams. Therefore, we will communicate with you by email.
“I've read the narratives of past recipients and my personal journey seems to have more hardship than they've experienced. Does this mean I have a better chance of funding?”
Not necessarily. We encourage our recipients to write their stories in a way that feels affirming and safe for them. This means many recipients choose not to publicly disclose personal, often traumatic details that were shared privately in their original applications (such as disability status, health/mental health status, immigration status, or experiences of violence/discrimination.)
With so many mainstream stories that focus on trans hardship, we believe allowing our recipients to have complete control over their story and what they share helps to foster trans joy.
Our commitment to improvement
We take our role in serving the community very seriously: with each cycle of every program, we learn new takeaways and refine for the future. Feedback from the community plays a large part in how we make our services better for the future. We invite you to take a brief survey to share your thoughts.