Image: Vicky LEta / MAshable
Trans kids need protection, and there are several ways you can advocate for their safety.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration revoked Obama-era guidance that allowed transgender students to use public school restrooms matching their gender identity. The move has received massive backlash, spurring the hashtag #ProtectTransKids in an effort to show solidarity with trans youth.
But how exactly can advocates protect trans kids, especially now? Below are just a few tangible things you can do to help in the immediate aftermath of this setback to the community.
1. Donate to orgs supporting trans students' rights.
Impactful nonprofits have long advocated for transgender youth, both inside and outside the classroom — and they could use your help.
The list below shows just a few of the leading organizations fighting for trans students through policy and other forms of meaningful support.
Trans Student Educational Resource: As a youth-led organization, TSER works to transform the educational system for transgender and gender-nonconforming students, offering advocacy workshops for young people and teacher trainings led by youth.
The National Center for Transgender Equality: The National Center for Transgender Equality works to advance the rights of the trans community through advocacy and empowerment. The organization, composed almost entirely of trans professionals, is devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and policy change.
Transgender Law Center: The Transgender Law Center works to challenge and change policies and laws to allow the trans community to live safer, authentic lives.
Trans Lifeline: The Trans Lifeline is a suicide hotline staffed by transgender people, for transgender people. A $25 donation funds one day's worth of calls for the all-volunteer line.
American Civil Liberties Union: The ACLU, which is taking Gavin Grimm's school bathroom case to the Supreme Court in March, is a leading advocacy organization devoted to protecting the rights of marginalized communities in the U.S.
2. Listen to transgender kids.
Trans youth are experts on their own needs — and we have the obligation to trust their voices, no matter their age.
To advocate for trans students, listen to what they want from the educational system. Whether it's through IRL conversations or via social media, trans kids can — and do — assert their own opinions, perspective and desires. They just need the space to be heard.
3. Show up for trans kids — literally.
While the recent rollback takes away federal guidelines, schools and states still have the power to create their own policies and expectations. To insure school administrators know how crucial protections are or transgender youth, it's important for adult advocates to speak up.
Call the superintendent of your local school district to ask about school policies and protections for transgender students. Show up to school committee meetings to demand inclusive policies. Call your state department of education to advocate for statewide protections.
Take an active role on the local level to make school better for transgender kids in your community.
4. Provide school leaders with trans-inclusive training.
Trans student comfort isn't just limited to the bathroom — it extends to the classroom, too. Teachers and administrators are at the frontlines of supporting trans youth in schools, but sometimes they don't have the training to do so effectively.
To help close this gap, advocates can step in to organize comprehensive trainings that foster more understanding and acceptance. Connect your local school district with an LGBTQ organization in town, or lead a training yourself. Above all, stress to educators how crucial it is to prioritize understanding of trans identity.
If you think you have what it takes to lead a training yourself, the National Center for Transgender Equality has a comprehensive resource to get you started.
5. Help your local school start a trans advocacy group.
To help improve the educational climate for trans students, it's important to affirm their identity. Creating safe spaces like a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) — which also welcomes trans youth, regardless of its name — is essential to give transgender kids the support and connections they need to thrive in school.
If you notice your district or local community is lacking organized LGBTQ groups in schools, help your district start a dedicated advocacy group yourself. For information on how to start a GSA, click here.
6. Mentor trans youth.
While school is a major part of any young person's life, protecting transgender kids extends beyond the classroom. Advocates can play a major role in helping transgender students thrive by offering your time and guidance after the school day ends.
Mentoring trans youth is especially important, given that stigma and discrimination makes the trans community vulnerable to less economic and social opportunity. Trans youth are also at significant risk to be estranged or shunned from their families, making it rare for them to have positive and affirming adult figures in their lives.
Connect with local LGBTQ advocacy organizations to see if there are opportunities to mentor trans youth in your area — especially if you're trans yourself. It's vital for youth to see how their futures could unfold, and mentors can offer that clarity.
7. Look ahead to the next fight.
While staying mindful the urgency of this situation, also take time to look ahead to what's next for national protections for transgender students.
In the battle for bathroom access, the next stop is the Supreme Court — a fight two years in the making. Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender teen from Virginia, is suing his school district for the right to use the men's bathroom in his high school. The case will mark the first time the Supreme Court is debating transgender rights, and the decision will inarguably set the tone for trans rights moving forward.
Though the case is in jeopardy due to the Trump administration's rollback, Grimm still intends to push forward.
Keep tabs on Grimm's case in March. And, if the court decides to deny Grimm the right to use the men's room or denies to hear his case, get ready to protest.
8. Tell trans youth you care.
It may seem like a simple tip, but it can make a world of difference to a transgender child.
Trans youth are on the receiving end of persistent bias, hate and discrimination. They're constantly reading news stories detailing the community's high suicide rates, low employment rates and high homelessness rates. They're forever correcting people who mistakenly or purposefully use incorrect pronouns, and fighting to simply exist as they are in the world. Now, they're being targeted by some of the most powerful officials in the country.
Take the time to remind trans youth of their power, brilliance and resilience against a world that often feels unbearably cruel. Affirm their feelings, needs and wants. Above all, tell them you care.Topics: bathroom bill, Conversations, education, Health & Fitness, How to Help, LGBT, Politics, Social Good, transgender bathroom, transgender rights, U.S., World