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Schitt's Creek Fans Support Trans Lifeline for Dan Levy's Birthday

'Schitt's Creek' Fans Support Trans Lifeline for Dan Levy's Birthday

'Schitt's Creek' Fans Support Trans Lifeline for Dan Levy's Birthday

"We have the greatest fans," the Schitt's Creek star tweeted as they raised thousands of dollars for the trans community.

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For the second year in a row, Schitt's Creek fans are celebrating star and showrunner Dan Levy's upcoming birthday on August 9 by raising money for an LGBTQ+ charity—this time for Trans Lifeline, which provides life-changing support to transgender people in the U.S. and Canada.

The fan-driven project was a big success last year, raising more than $23,000 for the LGBT Youth Line in Ontario. This year's fundraiser has seen a strong response so far, despite the current economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic—they cleared $7,000 in the first week and raised more than $15,000 by the weekend of Levy's birthday.

"Last year's fundraiser showed exactly how generous this community is, and I knew even in uncertain times, that wouldn't change," lead organizer Bea Edwards told PRIDE. "That passion and kindness from fans to support an important cause and thank Dan for his work is the same if not higher."

Viewers were eager to throw their support behind an organization like Trans Lifeline, which provides a peer support hotline for transgender people, a micro-grant program to help trans people legally change their name and gender, and specialized support for trans people who are imprisoned and detained.

"It was important to find an organization that gives such tangible results this year—especially with what is happening in the world today and what is especially affecting the LGBTQIA+ community and trans folks specifically, which Dan himself has highlighted several times."

The project is a reflection of how Schitt's Creek made its LGBTQ+ viewers feel seen and supported throughout its six-season run, with positive representation of queer characters and uplifting storylines about love and family.

"The show has always been a bit of a bright spot in dark times, but maybe even more so in the last six months," Edwards said. "I know coming together as a fan community during the early months of the pandemic and still having this show, this space, where joy and happiness stood out lightened the load just a bit for those 21 minutes each Tuesday."

Bri Barnett, Trans Lifeline's director of development and interim director of communications, said the organization was thrilled to be the recipient of this year's fundraiser.

"This type of grassroots crowdfunding campaign really is what funds this organization," she said. "Last year the majority of our funding came from individual gifts under $1000."

Trans Lifeline is the largest direct service provider for trans people in North America, and their hotline is the only peer support and crisis service where all of the operators are trans. Current donations will help support their newly-launched Spanish extension, the first service of its kind for monolingual Spanish speakers who are trans in the U.S. and Canada.

While the economic downturn has impacted charitable donations for LGBTQ+ groups in general, Barnett said the global pandemic has caused many people to refocus their support for the community.

"There is a real opportunity for people to really consider what they need, and to recognize that the way we're going to get through this pandemic is collectively, through supporting and showing up for one another. And we've really seen that—the number of our grassroots donors has actually gone up during this pandemic, after taking an initial drop."

These donations are crucial for transgender people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 related issues. Calls to Trans Lifeline from people experiencing suicidal ideation have increased more than 70 percent from this time last year, and they've seen a nearly 300 percent increase in calls about domestic and intimate partner violence.

"There are lots of ways that, materially, the pandemic is hard on people and it's hard on their mental health," Barnett said. "When we're so isolated and we have to shelter in place, it's so important that there's a resource like Trans Lifeline that's there for people to be able to reach out to."

Click here to donate to Trans Lifeline before Dan Levy's birthday on August 9.

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Christine Linnell