LGBTQ Americans have been bracing for the impact of a Republican president for months, and on Wednesday afternoon, the Trump administration took its first step towards rolling back LGBTQ civil rights. New restrictions will withdraw previous protections established under the Obama administration, most notably the ability of transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable.
These restrictions will affect one of the most vulnerable populations in the country: transgender people are nearly ten times more likely to attempt suicide than the rest of the general public, and hate crimes against transgender people — including murder — remain "disturbingly common," according to NBC News. Public schools can be a critical place in the lives of young trans kids, who are often subject to bullying; moreover, how public schools treat trans kids can serve as a model for how cisgender students learn to treat their trans peers.
The repeal of the Obama administration's protections has frightening implications for the trans community, and by extension for the LBGT community as a whole. In the wake of this change, therefore, many LGB-identifying people and allies are wondering how to protect trans kids and how to fight to have schools protect them, too. While the LGBT community and other marginalized groups may not have full protection at the federal level until a president is elected who values their rights, there is a lot that can be done in the meantime to help protect one of America's most at-risk groups.
Donate to Trans Lifeline
If you have money to spare, you can help trans kids by donating to Trans Lifeline, a 501(c)3 hotline that aims to help transgender people who are in crisis. The hotline fields hundreds of calls per week, and donations can help them hire more full time staffers to accommodate the needs of the trans community nationwide.
Note: if you're having trouble getting through on their donation page (thankfully, lots of people have been donating in the last 24 hours), they've set up an alternate donation page via MoonClerk.
Pressure Your School or Workplace to Adopt a Non-Discrimination Policy
I was a trans student. I know how vital it is to feel safe, welcomed & affirmed. Equal access enabled me to attend, stay & thrive in school.— Janet Mock (@janetmock) February 23, 2017
Get involved on your campus or at your workplace to ensure that the trans people around you feel comfortable and welcomed.
Transgender student advocate Camellia Bellis told ASU Now that schools can still help their trans students by adopting their own non-discrimination policies. Reach out to HR or to your school's LGBTQ advocacy group to learn how you can affect change in your area.
Share Sarah McBride's Message of Hope
Trump's repeal of existing protections may understandably send trans kids (or kids who are just beginning to question their gender identity) into crisis. Help by sharing messages of hope — you never know who on your social media may be privately struggling with their identity. Trans activist (and former DNC speaker!) Sarah McBride shared a video on her Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, aimed at giving hope to young trans kids.
Get Involved at the Local Level
Some of the most damaging bills attacking trans kids, like North Carolina's infamous HB2, occurred at the local level. You can help protect trans kids in your community by getting involved in local government. In particular, attend open school board meetings in your area and voice your support for protections for trans kids.
Call Your Elected Officials
The Trump administration may have taken the first step to rescind LGBT protections, but it may not be the last. The House of Representatives and the Senate both have a majority of GOP lawmakers, and the Republican Party's 2016 platform opposes transgender bathroom access and gay marriage and also supports allowing religious discrimination. Call your elected officials and let them know that you will not support policies that discriminate against the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign has a database to help you figure out where your legislators stand.
Volunteer with Trans Rights Groups
I volunteer at a support group for trans youth and see firsthand how acceptance saves lives. Tell the world: #ProtectTransKids— Natalie Chen (@TSNatalieChen) February 23, 2017
Look for local LGBT community centers in your area, or find one of the many trans-specific organizations in the country. The Transgender Law Center operates a Trans Legal Helpline, for example, where volunteers (who don't need previous legal experience) work to help transgender callers understand their legal rights.
Reach Out To The Trans People in Your Life
Dear Trans People, there are so many of us who will fight for you. So many. I love you and I see you and I'm thankful for you in my world ❤— jenny slate (@jennyslate) February 23, 2017
Reach out to your trans friends and family members and let them know that you care about them, are saddened about the new rules, and will participate in the fight to restore equality. Don't make it about you, but do make it clear that you are available to talk if they want.
Educate Yourself About the Biggest Issues Affecting the Trans Community
You can most effectively advocate for trans rights if you understand the specific issues that are at stake. Did you know, for example, that transgender women of color are by far the most likely to be victims of murder and other violent hate crimes? Or that trans people are actually the ones in danger when using public restrooms? In a recent UCLA Law survey, 70 percent of trans people reported being harassed or attacked while using the bathroom.
The GLAAD Transgender FAQ page is a good place to start, and trans writers and activists like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox have a wealth of books to read and interviews to watch. There's even a subreddit, r/asktransgender, where trans users talk about the issues that affect them.