Helping Transgender Kids See a Future Under Trump’s Reign

November 8th, 2016, rolled in like a storm. Nimbostratus clouds ominously cast a shadow over our national psyche, and the LGBTQ community was already starting to feel the first drops of the oncoming, and inevitable flood of legislation aimed at delegitimizing them as people. Trans Lifeline witnessed the first floodgates break that day in response to Donald Trump’s victory, with a grim new record of over 600 calls. Feb. 23rd, they witnessed their second largest spike — 379 calls — as transgender bathroom protections in public schools were reversed.

The administration’s marginalization and disregard for 3.8% of the population comes as no surprise; Vice President Pence has stated that same-sex marriage leads to “societal collapse”; Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has a smorgasbord of anti-everyone-but-straight-white-cis-men legislation — and, of course, Trump himself, who hit the campaign trail with the promise that he would not overturn LGBT rights, and would leave it a states rights issue, has already reversed that promise. I mean, we all knew better than that anyways, right? We were all anticipating marriage rights being revoked, adoptions becoming more difficult, bathroom bills being put into place; but instead of taking aim at citizens with the ability to vote, the administration puts our most vulnerable denizens in its cross-hairs.

Hotlines like Trans Lifeline are a valuable resource for members of the LGBTQ community to find help and resources. This could be anything from a suicidal person asking for help, to a person asking for advice. Their focus is on suicide prevention — they provide a listening ear to those in need, and education on where to find help or services. Staffed by trans community, callers will speak to someone that understands what it’s like to be trans; an important revelation for some teens that feel they’re the only one, or have never met another trans person. One of the first steps to healing is realizing you’re not alone, and that you belong; a difficult concept for growing minds, let alone under an administration which believes you shouldn’t exist.

What type of message are we sending our kids? “Be yourself! Unless it’s unsafe, don’t make yourself a victim; or don’t bother if you don’t “pass”; actually, just be something else, because it’s easier for us.” School already sucks enough. Being a teenager already sucks enough. But this compassionless administration has chosen to normalize and legitimize discrimination in our schools. We’re telling them they don’t belong at an age every teenager already feels like they don’t belong. Teens are already prone to depression, anxiety and eating disorders, and transgender teens often suffer from gender dysphoria as well. Singling children out in schools for daring to express themselves is mentally, emotionally, and socially damaging.

We need to band together to curb the tide of hate that is washing over us — but especially our children, who cannot stand up by themselves in these unrelenting waves. Transgender kids need our validation and support. They need to know we will keep them safe, and we will not stand for violence or aggression against them. Parents, educate yourselves; seek counseling for the family, and look forward to it as an activity to bring the family closer together, instead of falling into the trap of feeling that getting help is a sign of shame or weakness — it will be your strength. Check out Lambda Legal for advice on legal issues, educational resources, and additional ways we can help ensure all children have the same freedoms. Want to get more involved? Try joining the phone ranks of the Trevor Project, or Trans Lifeline hotline, or donate regularly to help keep them operating. It’s time, more than ever, to step it up. Protect trans kids.