Update (6/16/22): The two GoFundMe fundraisers listed in this piece have been taken down. It remains unclear if GoFundMe will take any action to address the over $95,000 these campaigns raised on its site.
GoFundMe has been hosting fundraisers for two parents who are seeking to block their trans children from receiving gender-affirming care despite the site’s policies against hateful content relating to gender identity. The two fundraisers combined have brought in over $95,000 in donations.
One of the fundraisers was created in 2018 and benefits Jeff Younger, a Texas father who lost a high-profile custody battle over his trans child. Younger was initially granted joint custody of his children in 2019 but lost it in 2021 for failing to pay child support.
Both fundraisers appear to violate GoFundMe’s terms of service, which explicitly prohibit user content that reflects or promotes behavior “in support of hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, terrorist financing or intolerance of any kind relating to … gender, gender identity, [or] gender expression.”
These fundraisers also go against GoFundMe’s claim that its “LGBTQ friends, family, and community members deserve spaces that fully respect and affirm their identities.” The site is currently celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month and is an oft-used service for people seeking to raise funds to cover the costs of gender-affirming medical care. GoFundMe even has “a guide to fundraising for gender confirmation surgery costs.”
GoFundMe fundraiser to benefit Jeff Younger’s hateful anti-trans crusade
The GoFundMe fundraiser titled “Support Jeff’s Family” has raised over $56,000 for Jeff Younger, including covering the cost of legal fees associated with his custody battle. An October 2019 version of the fundraiser accessible by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine stated that Younger had “incurred roughly 250,000 in legal fees and needs to raise funds for future legal fees and the cost of expert witnesses to aid in his campaign to protect his children.”
Since his custody dispute rose to national attention, Younger has become a right-wing media darling. His efforts to deny his child’s trans identity have helped fuel the current nationwide push to criminalize best-practice medical care for trans youth. Younger even leveraged his public profile into an unsuccessful campaign for Texas House.
Younger has a seperate fundraiser which has raised over $113,000 on the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo. GiveSendGo’s terms and conditions also prohibit content that promotes “violence, degradation, subjugation, discrimination or hatred against individuals or groups” based on gender.
Brenton Netz’ GoFundMe to stop his trans child from receiving gender-affirming care
Brenton Netz GoFundMe titled “Protect Autistic Kids” seeks to fund the expenses associated with his legal battle to try to stop his trans child from receiving gender-affirming care. He has raised over $38,000 on the site. According to Netz, his child “has been ensnared in a gender dysmorphic culture that disproportionately affects children with autism.”
Netz’s anti-trans fearmongering about his child relies on the right-wing myth that trans advocates recruit autistic people to become transgender themselves. This harmful lie infantilizes autistic people, falsely posits that autistic people are not able to determine their own gender identity, and is wielded as an ableist cudgel to deny people access to medical care.
Nonetheless, Netz has spread anti-trans rhetoric about his child across conservative media outlets. During an October 2021 panel put on by the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council, Netz fearmongered that “our kids are under attack” and asserted, “We must do everything we can to save them from the jaws of this beast.”
GoFundMe needs to enforce its terms of service against the dangerous anti-trans fundraisers on its site
Despite the bigoted rhetoric Younger and Netz espouse, research shows that trans children can identify their gender identities at a young age. According to the American Psychological Association, “Children usually have a sense of their gender identity between age 2 to 5 and they typically become cognizant of their sexual orientation around age 9 or 10, although this self-awareness is occurring at earlier ages, particularly as it is a topic more widely discussed and available to younger children.”
GoFundMe has a responsibility to enforce its terms of service against fundraisers that seek to bar trans children from accessing lifesaving health care. Media Matters has identified two such examples – but there could certainly be more.