The basic rights of pretty much everyone who isn't a white, cisgender, straight man have been at a terrifyingly great risk since Donald Trump's Inauguration in January — and for many transgender people in particular, the political climate of the country is more concerning than ever. Indeed, Trans Lifeline saw a spike in call volume last week after the Trump administration rescinded the guidelines that the Obama administration had previously put in place protecting bathroom access for trans students in public schools. The guidelines had previously mandated that students be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity; the removal of the White House's support for these guidelines is a huge blow. And it's very, very scary.
Trans Lifeline is a crisis hotline "dedicated to the well being of transgender people ... staffed by transgender people for transgender people," according to the 501(c)3 non-profit's website. It's an invaluable resource, particularly in these very frightening times. And according to NBC News, Trans Lifeline says the spike in calls after last week's announcement was noticeable. In January, Trans Lifeline got around 139 calls per day; on Feb. 23, however, they got 379 — nearly three times January's average daily amount.
What's more, it's an example of a pattern that's emerged in recent months: Guess what the only moment in time to top this figure was? Election Day after Trump became president-elect. Trans Lifeline's director of marketing and communication, André Perez, told NBC News, "We see spikes when there's a new affront to transgender rights and the idea that the transgender community can have a future in this country. We see a corresponding increase in calls immediately, and then they remain elevated after that."
There is, at least, a silver lining here, too, though: It wasn't just a jump in calls that followed last week's decision. In addition, Trans Lifeline received so many donations in the aftermath of the White House's announcement that its website crashed. In only a day and a half, $51,000 poured in from generous donors everywhere.
The money is greatly needed, too. Perez told Mic, "We still get calls every day that go unanswered because we don't have enough capacity. With this money, we will be able to pay for more staffing to work towards meeting the needs of our community as that need grows, with the increasing pressure from the political and social climate."
Although Trump made an attempt during his campaign to pledge his support to the LGBTQ community, the reversal of bathroom access protections for trans students in public schools is among the first concrete actions the Trump White House has taken that negatively impact that very community — which isn't a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. His administration is full of people whose policies make clear that their belief in equal rights doesn't extend beyond cisgender, heterosexual people (looking at you, Mike Pence).
But we must demand quality for all of us — otherwise, it's not equality at all. This move by the current administration is a clear attempt to further the vastly misguided rhetoric that not only do trans rights not matter, but that trans people don't matter, either. And we have to stand up to that. Trans rights are human rights. Period.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can call Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860 (for the U.S.) or (877) 330-6366 (for Canada). If you'd like to make a donation to Trans Lifeline, you can do so online. They've set a goal to raise $200,000 and are currently at $153,367.60.