Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton is trying to clear up confusion about a universal basic income (UBI) pilot program for transgender residents that was incorrectly reported by national media outlets. The erroneous reporting has caused anger on the part of trans residents who were expecting checks. It has also sparked “abuse” by people hostile to the LGBTQ community.
Fox News, The Washington Post, and NPR are among the larger outlets that ran the story.
“Transgender residents in Palm Springs, California are eligible to receive a UBI of up to $900 per month solely for identifying as transgender or nonbinary — no strings attached,” Fox News reported on April 5.
“The new pilot program will have $200,000 set aside for allocation after a unanimous vote by the Palm Springs City Council last week.”
This is false. The $200,000 was a grant to help organizations DAP Health and Queer Works apply to a state program. The state has set aside $35 million for organizations to participate in UBI experiments.
“What we have done is provide $200,000 that will help DAP Health complete the application process,” Middleton explained.
Reporting about ‘free money’ going to trans residents not only confused the community, but sparked a backlash from anti-LGBTQ individuals.
“Over the last two weeks, the folks who answer telephones and receive emails and other things on our behalf at city hall have been exposed to a level of abuse of frankly, frequently disgusting phone calls and messages,” said Middleton.
For her part, Middleton says she isn't in favor of the popular UBI programs spreading across the country and state. Middleton agrees with the sentiment, but she doesn’t think UBI could be scaled up enough to meet the needs of the 37 million Americans living in poverty.