Transgender kids desperately need our help.
On Feb. 22, 2017, President Trump reversed guidelines set by the Obama administration to protect transgender students in schools.
The guidelines allowed trans students to use the bathroom that matches their gender, a move that helps keep students from feeling uncomfortable — or even threatened in dangerous situations — by having to use the restroom that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth.
By reversing Obama’s guidelines — which had yet to be enforced after being blocked in court — Trump is allowing state and local officials to make their own decisions on the “bathroom debate.” This will inevitably lead to schools enforcing discriminatory policies, forcing trans students into hostile spaces.
How’s a student supposed to learn in an environment where they’re not welcome to be themselves?
If you’re upset over Trump’s decision, don’t feel helpless. Be there for a transgender kid who needs your love and support.
Here are 15 ways to show trans kids you’re in their corner:
1. Know the facts.
On one hand, research finds many transgender people are harassed or physically assaulted while being forced to use a restroom that doesn’t correspond with their gender. On the other hand, the idea that ensuring trans people equal bathroom access will somehow legalize the right for a predator to wander into a women’s bathroom is a classic case of fear-mongering born from a myth.
Use the facts to make your case when discussing trans rights with those who want to learn more.
2. Know what policies are in place in your own community’s school district.
Trump’s reversal will likely leave schools making more decisions about bathroom regulations. Find out what (if any) policies are in place at the schools near you and advocate for trans students who need you in your own backyard.
3. Become a Trevor ambassador for the Trevor Project, the nation’s leading LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization.
As calls to their 24/7 hotline surged in the aftermath of the election, the Trevor Project was one of the critical groups providing aid to young people in desperate need.
Many young trans people will rely on them in the months ahead, and volunteers will be crucial. You can become a Trevor ambassador in a city near you and spare some time to help the group do its life-changing work.
4. If you know a transgender kid, reach out to their parents to see if it’s OK for you to send your love.
A sweet card, a warm hug, or a trip to the ice cream parlor — just to say “You are loved” — can make all the difference. If you know a transgender adult, reach out to them and see how you, as an ally, can best help efforts toward equality in your own community.
5. Fund the resistance through Lambda Legal, a group using the law to help protect trans kids from Trump’s policies.
“While the Trump-Pence administration wages its war on children, we at Lambda Legal will redouble our efforts to protect transgender and other vulnerable kids,” the group said in a statement. “We are already in court fighting for transgender students, and we are prepared to sue any school district that discriminates in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions.”
6. Write a reassuring message to trans students online using the #ProtectTransKids hashtag.
The hashtag, which began trending Feb. 22, is being used to send notes of love and solidarity to anyone who could use it.
7. And while you’re on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, share this image to let everyone know where you stand.
8. If it’s the right fit for you, become a member of Fierce, or tell someone else about the opportunity.
A New York City-based group, Fierce runs youth-led campaigns and leadership development programs so more young, queer people of color feel empowered to influence the world around them today and in the years ahead.
9. Get involved with the Human Rights Campaign.
HRC is the nation’s leading political advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, and equal bathroom access is one of its most important issues.
10. Find out if the schools in your community have a Gay-Straight Alliance.
Again, Trump’s decision will give state and local school districts more room to discriminate when it comes to bathroom access. This makes it even more crucial that you know what’s happening in the schools in your own neighborhood.
The Gay-Straight Alliance is one group that operates at the local level, helping build bridges between straight, cisgender students and their LGBTQ peers.
Find out if there’s a GSA program in your own school district. If there’s not, help start one.
11. Take part in a local or national event held by GLSEN, a group committed to making sure every grade school in America is safe for LGBTQ students.
Among many services, the nonprofit does extensive research on how and why schools are failing queer kids and provides resources to educators to help fix the problems.
“While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN won’t,” the group’s executive director, Dr. Eliza Byard, said in a statement.
12. Buy a shirt from Trans Lifeline and help save lives.
Similarly to the Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline runs a hotline for any transgender person in need. Trans Lifeline, however, is operated solely by trans staffers for trans people, which can make a difference to those seeking help.
If you purchase a shirt from their online store, proceeds go toward helping the group fulfill and expand its mission of saving and bettering lives.
13. Learn more about the causes of LGBTQ youth homelessness, and fight for change.
It’s vital we protect trans kids in schools, but we can’t forget about the thousands of LGBTQ youth across the country made homeless simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Groups like the Ali Forney Center, the Happy Hippie Foundation, My Friend’s Place, and the True Colors Fund are fighting every day to help homeless LGBTQ youth access stable housing, employment, and an education.
14. Watch and share this powerful video featuring a trans girl and her loving family on Facebook.
The more people see it, the more hearts and minds will open.
15. Donate to the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
The nonprofit, which began as a grassroots effort in 1979, now provides social programs — like arts and culture, job readiness, and health and wellness initiatives — for LGBTQ people ages 13-24 in and around New York City. It does great work, but it needs your help.
Transgender students have always needed our love and support, but this is a particularly critical moment when each one of us can make a difference.
Whether it’s donating what you can, sharing a note online, or simply giving a warm hug, you might be the person a student — maybe in your own community — needs this very moment. Show them you care.