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Right-wing watchdog sues San Francisco over transgender guaranteed income program

A crowded street with people carrying the trans flag and other colorful flags in a festive atmosphere.
GIFT, San Francisco’s Guaranteed Income for Trans people program, provides 55 low-income transgender people with $1,200 a month for up to 18 months from January 2023 to June 2024. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

A conservative group known for exposing Joe Biden’s dog as a serial biter of Secret Service staffers is suing San Francisco over its guaranteed income program for transgender residents.

The nonprofit Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court this week “on behalf of San Francisco taxpayers” Michael Phillips, Paul Wildes and Reed Sandberg. It names Mayor London Breed, Treasurer José Cisneros, City Administrator Carmen Chu and the executive director of the city’s Office of Transgender Initiatives as defendants in the lawsuit, which argues that the city’s GIFT program violates the California Constitution’s equal protection clause.

GIFT, San Francisco’s Guaranteed Income for Trans People Program, provides 55 low-income transgender people with $1,200 a month for up to 18 months from January 2023 to June 2024. To qualify for the assistance, recipients cannot make more than $600 a month.

A smiling woman speaking at a podium, flanked by people and colorful pride and trans flags.
Mayor London Breed is named in the Judicial Watch lawsuit against the city's trans income program. | Source: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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This isn’t the first time Judicial Watch has challenged a diversity initiative in court. The group prevailed in 2022 after a judge found a California law requiring racial, ethnic and sexual diversity on corporate boards unconstitutional. A federal court agreed in 2023 that the law violated the constitution by mandating quotas.

In a press release Monday announcing the lawsuit, Judicial Watch said the GIFT program “discriminates in favor of biological Black and Latino men who identify as women in the distribution of tax money.”

“The transgender extremists running San Francisco are illegally using taxpayer money to hand out free cash to transgender individuals based on race and sex in blatant violation of the state’s constitution,” said Tom Fitton, the group’s president, in a statement.

A spokesperson for Breed’s office referred The Standard to the city attorney. Jen Kwart, a city attorney spokesperson, said in an email: “Once we are served with the lawsuit, we will review the complaint and respond in court.”

Representatives for the city’s Office of Transgender Initiative could not be reached for comment Monday.

City officials created the GIFT program with Lyon-Martin Community Health Services, which provides medical care for trans, nonbinary and intersex people, and the city’s Transgender District, which tries to raise awareness about transgender rights and provide financial assistance to transgender residents.

Lyon Martin Executive Director JM Jaffe called the GIFT program “the beginning of a reparative process to change the inequities experienced by our communities” after it was started in 2022.

Josh Ram can be reached at