We begin with an investigation into the forces working to shape our information landscape when it comes to transgender policies. When an issue goes from zero to 60 practically overnight, grabbing headlines, political real estate, and funding priorities — you can bet there’s an invisible hand in play. Today, some of the surprising interests we found behind the well-funded transgender lobby.
In December of 2021, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling made news with a tweet. She criticized replacing the word “women” with the trans-friendly phrase, “people who menstruate.” Rowling suffered a backlash, was called “transphobic” and even threatened with violence, she says. Hers is hardly a fringe view. A recent survey shows a majority of Americans, 71%, believe there are only two genders: male and female. But expressing that has become increasingly forbidden.
Sharyl: How such a small slice of America, or what was a very small slice of America, could take front and center stage in education and media and politics over a pretty short period of time is an interesting question.
Gregory Angelo: Yeah, it’s curious.
Gregory Angelo, a gay man, is president of the New Tolerance Campaign, a group fighting what he calls intolerance double-standards.
Angelo: People who think that this is a grassroots movement that is giving rise to the transgender culture in the United States — this transgender moment that people say that we’re having — do not understand that this is more of a top-down dynamic that is at play, where you have really just a handful of organizations and LGBT advocacy organizations that are driving the agenda. But because they have such sway and such money, they’re influencing everything from schools to politicians to corporate America.
Pedro Gonzalez: The very least that you can say is it’s not organic. This is not something that’s happening on its own. It’s not just the winds of change blowing in. This is orchestrated.
Pedro Gonzalez is an independent journalist. He conducted an investigation to get to the bottom of the sudden explosion in trans-ideology.
Gonzalez: The name of the report that I wrote about this for the American Principles Project is called “The Transgender Leviathan.” I chose that name on purpose. The Leviathan is a biblical monster that’s just enormous. You can only ever catch glimpses of the full size of it, right?
Sharyl: So, tell me what you’ve learned about the big forces behind the funding.
Gonzalez: Yeah, so I think you can broadly name three, which is pharmaceutical companies, liberal billionaires, and ultimately, I think, to a growing extent, the taxpayer.
When it comes to taxpayers, Gonzalez points to studies the government funds like one promoting breast removal or mastectomies for young girls as part of a process to “transition.”
Gonzalez: But I think the far larger and more pernicious problem is the problem of the pharmaceutical companies who are behind this stuff. And there’s so much.
One example is Lupron, the drug most commonly used for suppressing puberty. It’s a first step under one model of treating children who wish to be the opposite sex.
Gonzalez: It’s not FDA-approved for use in transition therapy, right? It’s used to castrate the, basically, the most dangerous kinds of sex offenders who just can’t help themselves and are more likely to re-offend. So they give them Lupron to basically chemically castrate them. And now we’re giving it to kids to suppress the process of them going into puberty.
With two injections reportedly costing as much as $73,000, Lupron drew $2 billion-worth of business last year for drugmaker AbbVie.
Gonzalez: The Biden administration cited a study produced by a group called The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is an LGBT advocacy nonprofit. And basically, the Biden administration said this study from this nonpartisan nonprofit says that it’s important for children to be able to have access to gender-affirming care. Right? But when you look at the funding of The Trevor Project, what you’ll see is that they actually received $50,000 from AbbVie Foundation, the company that manufactures Lupron.
We found an even bigger medical money interest surrounding the trans movement. It involves a little-publicized but sad reality — the transgender HIV epidemic. In seven major U.S. cities, more than 40% of transgenders are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The rate is even higher among transgender blacks. Most of them — 62% — are HIV-positive, according to the CDC survey.
That adds up to a lucrative market for businesses like Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that’s developed 11 HIV medications now on the market earning over $1.5 billion a month. And Gilead happens to be the single biggest-known funder of the trans agenda — more than $6 million in 2017 and 2018. Gilead says its goal is to “support communities that are disproportionally impacted by diseases aligned with our therapeutic areas of focus.”
The number two funder of trans causes, at $4.8 million over two years, is Arcus Foundation. Arcus is a nonprofit associated with billionaire Jon Stryker, heir to the Stryker Corporation medical technology company fortune and a driver of “gender identity ideology and transgenderism across the globe.”
Third, $4.6 million, is Tawani Foundation, associated with the billionaire Pritzker family and James, now Jennifer, Pritzker of the Hyatt Hotels fortune. Tawani has large medical investments and funds causes that normalize transgenderism and a broad spectrum of identities.
And number four among top donors to trans interests is Gill Foundation at $3.1 million, associated with American software magnate and gay activist Tim Gill. He’s the single largest-known donor to gay causes at a half billion dollars total.
The money from a handful of sources seeds thousands of groups, reaching into policies and practices in government and education, and at corporations, universities, doctors’ associations, hospitals, insurance companies, media outlets, journalism groups, and more.
Top recipients of the trans-targeted money include the University of Minnesota, home to “Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life.”
Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans life video: There is a huge amount of diversity in the experience of trans people, in terms of identities, in terms of gender journeys, and we’re going to do our best in this course to try to make as much room as possible for all of those various identities.
Another top beneficiary is Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower. It sponsors programs like this one for health care professionals.
Annenberg video: Hello and welcome to the elevate webinar series on creating a gender-affirming health care environment for optimal HIV care.
Funding for transgender causes continues to hit new highs each year. By one analysis, the top 10 foundations that give the most made up 55% of the funding. In the end, the explosion in transgender influence on society and politics can largely be traced to a handful of powerful interests.
Gonzalez: It’s far from a movement that’s just comprised of a bunch of scrappy underdogs. It is a really well-financed and immensely powerful movement that is just totally disproportionate for the population that it represents.
Sharyl (on-camera): This past week, advocates filed suit on behalf of two girls, including a ten-year-old, who were getting treatment to block puberty or suppress their female traits. They’re suing University of Missouri Health Care, which stopped treating children after the state banned certain medical procedures for minors.
Watch cover story here.