By Brook Shelley
Before I moved to Oregon from Texas, I had experienced firsthand the challenges of living as a transgender woman and a dyke in a conservative state. I was amazed to see the progress that had been made for LGBTQ equality here in Oregon. After I’d been here awhile, a coworker at Puppet Labs connected me to Basic Rights Oregon. She knew I’d been speaking about being queer in tech, and thought I might be interested in working with them.
She was right.
I’ve been on the board of directors at Basic Rights Oregon for three years now, and in that time I’ve seen how quickly the political tides can turn. We’ve gone from what felt like unstoppable progress to a fight to defend our hard-won rights. I know the fight to win equality will be a long one.
When I think about the future—beyond my own lifetime—I know that Basic Rights will continue working to end inequality in all its forms – whether it’s winning a third gender marker for non-binary Oregonians, or fighting back hateful anti-immigrant ballot measures. I want to ensure that I can help our organization continue fighting, even after I’m gone.
That’s why I have allotted 20% of my estate to Basic Rights. It was easier to do than you might think!
When people hear “estate planning,” they think wills and lawyers and death, and that can stop them in their tracks. In truth, though, making a planned gift – a gift that leaves a legacy – just takes a few clicks of a mouse.
As a board member I was asked to consider remembering the Basic Rights Education Fund (BREF) in my estate plans. It didn’t take much thought before I decided, and went to the website for my IRA. I logged in, clicked on “accounts,” then “designees,” added “BREF” and the percentage, and saved my changes. The whole thing took less than a minute.
I give to Basic Rights Oregon today because I believe in the equality work they’re doing. Giving to BRO in my estate is just an extension of that belief. In some ways it’s easier, since I won’t miss the money when I’m gone.
In my time as a volunteer board member, I’ve seen that Basic Rights Oregon has a proven track record of success. And though there will be losses as well as victories, the organization will continue to advance racial and transgender justice.
I encourage everyone to think about including Basic Rights Oregon in their estate plans. If you have an IRA, a 401k, or a life insurance policy, it can take less time than sending an email.
If you’re like me, your life involves acting on your values to help make the world better. There’s no reason your legacy shouldn’t involve that, as well. That choice can start today.
Brook Shelley is the chair of Basic Rights Oregon’s Board of Directors.