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The Tokelor, a TikTok fundraising event featuring eight content creators, raised $165,000 for The Trevor Project, on June 29, 2021 in a flash one-hour event.

The first fundraising event of its kind, The Tokelor unlocked the power of the wildly popular short-form video content platform, its innovative creators, and the TikTok Creator Marketplace to spark collaborative partnerships among content creators who want to give back to their communities.

Eight creators with 500,000 to 7.5 million TikTok followers participated in the live, one-hour competition-style event to raise money for The Trevor Project, a U.S. nonprofit focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth.

Content creators included blogger and media personality Perez Hilton (@perezhilton), pop star “eyeamki" (@eyeamki), lesbian couple Hailee and Kendra (@haileeandkendra) and comedian Scott Frenzel (@scott.frenzel). Additional participants included Tori Phantom (@toriphantom), Tate Hoskins (@tatehoskins), Kyra (@sheiskyra) and Sam Dezz (@samdezz).

Zo Asmail, founder and managing director of Minionz, a technology and creator consulting company based in Austin, Texas, organized and launched the fundraiser in two months to develop a surefire process for content creators to work together and raise thousands of dollars for causes that matter to them. Asmail and his team also worked with brands to sponsor the event, including MVMT, Lyft, Urban Stems, Snif and Olipop.

Now, Asmail is helping more content creators and brands tap the power of TikTok and other social media platforms to unlock the power of their audiences beyond the reach of a single platform.

Zo Asmail
Bringing Content Creators Together to Raise Thousands of Dollars on TikTok

TikTok launched in the U.S. in 2016 and gained popularity among a diverse range of users during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the platform increased its U.S. user base by 85.3% compared to the previous year, providing content creators and brands more opportunities to collaborate and raise money together.

“A creator's ability to motivate their audience to follow them on multiple social media platforms, in addition to TikTok, can boost their value and ability to make an impact," Asmail said. “Ultimately, a well-organized program, engaging participants and a clear, authentic mission are key to launching a successful fundraising campaign on TikTok."

The Tokelor's premise was simple: Seven content creators went through several rounds of virtual competitions to impress “The Tokelor" (think of “The Bachelor") and win the game. To make a donation, social media audiences visited The Tokelor's fundraising webpage where they could donate on behalf of their favorite creator.

In addition to raising money and awareness for The Trevor Project, the show aimed to inspire LGBTQ+ youth to be their authentic selves and seek help whenever they need it.

Most of the content creators identify as LGBTQ+ and discussed their coming out experiences, shared letters they would have written to their 12-year-old selves and gave anti-bullying advice. One creator also shared a personal experience of his and what motivated him to call The Trevor Project for help during the middle of a crisis.

Some of the people I love most in this world would not be here without The Trevor Project's life-saving resources. The content creators who participated in the event also recognized the power of The Trevor Project's mission and services, making the fundraiser feel even more special.
Zo Asmail

Leading up to the show, the creators broadcasted live events on their personal TikTok and Instagram profiles to start raising money and drum up excitement for the fundraiser. Q&A-style broadcasts created safe places for audiences to discuss LGBTQ-specific experiences, like how to come out to friends and family members.

“If you want to launch a successful event on TikTok, you have to think creatively," Asmail said. “The fundraiser itself can't be front and center, as blatant advertising doesn't resonate well with TikTok's younger audience base. Find a creative way to get people together and subtly weave in the messaging to achieve your fundraising goals and make an impact at the same time."

Identifying and Securing Content Creators

Asmail and his team turned to the TikTok Creator Marketplace to research and connect with a diverse group of influencers who believed in empowering marginalized communities and aligned with The Trevor Project's mission.

“At first, it was incredibly challenging to identify content creators for this initiative due to the large volume of creators in the marketplace," Asmail said. “Typically, when a brand approaches a creator, they dictate a price to the creator. I took a different approach, letting the creator set their own price for the partnership, and we required that a portion of their fee went to The Trevor Project. This helped us find creators who really cared about the mission, ultimately making the event more successful."

“We had a long roster of creators to choose from," Asmail continued. “The creators that really cared about the nonprofit's mission provided the most reasonable rates, and they went above and beyond the required posting schedule to make the fundraiser a success."

Asmail hopes that The Tokelor's success motivates other content creators and brands to use TikTok's platform for good.

About Zo Asmail and Minionz

Zo Asmail is the founder and managing director of Minionz, a technology and creator consulting company based in Austin, Texas. He leads business-driven data science, creative software architecture and sustainable direct-to-consumer initiatives to help entrepreneurs and brands support their audiences in a strategic, personalized manner. You can learn more about Asmail and Minionz at minionz.com.

About The Tokelor

The Tokelor is the first fundraiser of its kind and raised $165,000 for The Trevor Project. Organized by Zo Asmail and Minionz, the live, competition-style event brought eight content creators together on June 29, 2021, to inspire diverse audiences and raise money to save young LGBTQ+ lives. You can learn more about The Tokelor at tokelor.com.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

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