Protego Totalum: Building & Protecting Trans Safe Spaces

Looking forward at the end of our first trans rights campaign


When I began my gender transition, I had absolutely no fears about coming out as transgender to the Harry Potter Alliance community. But I did have fears, massive fears, about coming out to the rest of the world.

While the fan community I’ve called home for the past several years is filled with loving, informed, and inclusive people, the outside world remains a place where dangerous bigotry lurks around every corner.

Every other week I go to a local trans support group and listen to the others talk about being yelled at, spit on, and punched in the face by strangers. Many discuss their struggles to find jobs. A few have recently returned from stints in psychiatric wards. Several are banned from ever seeing their families again.

Our group facilitator instructs us on writing legally binding wills so we aren’t buried under the wrong name when we inevitably die sooner than our cisgender peers — a fact that’s hammered home by how frequently our support groups turn into grief counseling for another of our number lost to violence or suicide.

This is the reality of life for transgender people, even in one of the most supportive cities in the world for our needs. The government in New York City is working to protect our right to receive the medical treatment we need and to use the restroom that accurately reflects our gender, but it can’t stop people on the street from sneering at us. It can’t stop someone from beating up a trans woman in the bathroom, even if it will settle the case in her favor when it goes to court. It can’t stop the daily misgendering or the heavy weight of dysphoria. It can’t stop people from killing us.

These are things that will only be alleviated by long-term, constant work toward change by many hands. Some of it will never get better in our lifetimes, but we can work for future generations like our elders did for us and we can work to make even just one day better for one person.

That’s what the Protego campaign is all about. Named for the protective shield charm in Harry Potter, the campaign aims to help us all make safer spaces for the trans people in our lives. We know we can’t solve all the problems that stem from transphobia and cissexism with one campaign, but we do believe that taking intentional and consistent steps as individuals and as a community can pave the path towards change.

My coming out video was met with an outpouring of love and acceptance by the fan community

I am so lucky to be surrounded by a loving community, but they’re not there with me when I step onto the subway or walk through the scanners at the airport. Just like we all wish we could take the good vibes of fan conferences back home with us, Protego aims to take the support of the community out into the rest of the world — when we can.

Just this summer, Protego accomplished so much. We sent over one thousand, handwritten postcards to Gov. McCrory in North Carolina asking him to reverse the anti-trans bathroom bill as well as many more emails and letters to other legislators, urging them not to adopt similar bills.

While we were in Florida for GeekyCon, we donated books to and created a scrapbook of encouraging messages for young LGBTQIA folks at the Orlando Youth Alliance.

A message from our scrapbook for the Orlando Youth Alliance

We partnered with the ACLU to successfully petition the NBA to pull their All Star Game from North Carolina, with GLAAD to make a video about trans media representation, and with TSER who provided resources for our Protego toolkit, which has been downloaded over a thousand times.

Over one weekend, we hosted Restroom Revelio in which hundreds of fan activists around the world (the numbers are still coming in!) logged safe gender neutral bathrooms in Refuge Restrooms’ crowd-sourced app.

Helping build a Marauders Map for trans and non-binary folks

And we featured nine new trans voices from our community to tell their stories on this Medium publication.

As we wrap up the main thrust of the campaign, we can continue to make an impact by incorporating lessons from the toolkit into our lives. Practice gender neutral language. Request gender neutral restrooms in spaces where you host events. Listen to trans people’s stories. Amplify their voices. Stand up for their rights.

If you’re returning to school for the fall, you can use the Protego Back To School kit to make your campus safer for trans people. We have many chapters of the HPA who will be doing so around the world. And we, as a global community, will never stop fighting for a better world. We will never stop loving our transgender community members.

This community gave me the strength and confidence to be who I am. Thank you for being a part of it. Now let’s extend the love and protection of our community out to the rest of the world.