Daily Engagement: Help in the Fight Against Trump’s Rollback of Trans Rights in Schools


Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

Having done his very best to make the lives of refugees more miserable than they already are, Donald Trump has moved onto the next target in his mission to shit comprehensively all over America’s most vulnerable groups: trans people! Yesterday the tangerine totalitarian’s regime retracted a piece of federal guidance on trans rights that was issued last year by Barack Obama’s administration.

What’s the issue?

The guidance in question related to the rights of transgender students to use gender-segregated facilities — bathrooms, changing rooms, etc — in a manner that reflects their gender identity: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.” It was issued in the wake of North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill,” HB2, which states explicitly that “Local boards of education shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is designated for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex.”

The Obama-era guidance was designed specifically to protect transgender students from the sort of oppression enacted by HB2. Trump’s withdrawal of that guidance, then, does the exact opposite: it allows schools to force trans students to use facilities in which they are neither comfortable nor safe. This cartoon does a pretty good job of summing up the sort of situation in which trans students are placed:

If you can stomach it, the ensuing tweetstorm of comments on the cartoon also provides a convenient, if depressing, overview of the conservative arguments surrounding the issue: gender corresponds to sex (it doesn’t), XX/XY chromosome differential defines sex and gender (it doesn’t), the idea of multiple genders is somehow a new liberal invention (it isn’t), and so on. As in many other cases, the Trump administration is on the wrong side of both science and history, and as in many other cases, its supporters seem to wear this fact like a badge of pride.

The Trump administration has fallen back on the time-honored weaseling-out tactic of citing “states’ rights” — Sean Spicer used it yesterday in his daily press briefing, saying that “The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue.” He also denied that there’s been disagreement between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the decision to retract the guidance, insisting that both DeVos and Sessions are just as awful as one another the Department of Justice and the Department of Education are united on this issue.

What can you do?

As you might expect, the decision to rescind the Obama guidance has been met with opposition from trans rights groups, LGBT activists, and people who aren’t given to victimizing people on the basis of their gender identity. If you fall into the latter category and are wondering how you can help, here are a bunch of organizations to whom you can donate. (A big thank you to Upworthy writer and occasional Flavorwire contributor Parker Molloy, who suggested many of these organizations.)

LGBTQ rights non-profit Lambda Legal, which is promising to sue “any school district that discriminates against trans students.” Lambda has a long history of waging legal fights for LGBTQ rights, and winning them; if you want to help, you can donate here.

Trans Lifeline, which provides advice and support to “transgender people experiencing a crisis… [including] people who may be struggling with their gender identity and are not sure that they are transgender.” It’s a valuable resource, especially for kids in places like North Carolina, who may well be feeling very alone and vulnerable right now. You can donate here.

Gender is Over, who make the awesome hoodies and vests that you may have seen various people wear over the last year — Laura Jane Grace, Shamir, and (most notably, obviously) your Flavorwire editor. They donate the proceeds of their sales to organizations that support trans and nonconforming youth (you can see exactly where the money goes here.) If you want to score Gender is Over gear, or just donate to the project, you can do so here.

NYC-based Fierce, which is devoted to the support and advancement of trans people of color, and aims to “cultivate the next generation of social justice movement leaders who are dedicated to ending all forms of oppression.” You can donate here.

Trans youth organization BreakOUT!, which is running a “trans defence fund” for transgender youth in New Orleans: as per the BreakOUT! website, the fund exists to “get [trans students’] name/gender markers updated, [and cover] expungement costs & immigration attorney fees covered to help strengthen our communities for the fight ahead in the next 4 years!” Donate here.

The Hetrick-Martin Institute, founded way back in 1979 in The Bronx, which aims to provide “a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth between the ages of 13 and 24, and their families.” It’s also the host organization for the Harvey Milk High School. Donate here.

GLSEN, a group that “champions LGBTQ issues in K-12 education” and describes its mission as being “to create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” It provides resources for students and teachers, conducts a variety of LGBTQ-related research, and also provides a policy toolkit for advocating for LGBTQ rights in state and federal legislatures. Donate here.

The Trans Youth Equality Foundation, based in Portland, Maine, which funds and organizes, inter alia, youth camps for trans kids, support groups for parents of trans youth, and workshops for teachers. It also makes an excellent podcast. You can donate here.

And finally, TSER (Trans Student Educational Resources), which provides a variety of resources for trans youth, including literature, conferences, and camps. It’s also home to the Gender Unicorn. You can donate here, and/or volunteer, too.