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Healthcare is a Basic Human Right. Here Are 9 Ways You Can Support the Trans Community Today.

UPDATE 6/15/20: SCOTUS rules that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars sex discrimination in the workplace, also protects folx from discrimination the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Though this sets the precedent for federal LGBTQ+ protections, Senate must pass the Equality Act in order to establish comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ folx in all areas of life. Send a letter to your senators using ACLU’s e-mail form, which includes a pre-written message.


While there are always fears and risks that stem from Existing While Trans, some days are reminiscent of that time when I was eight years old and scraped both knees and elbows as I flipped over the handlebars of my bicycle. 

Today is one of those days.

As you’ve probably heard, the Trump administration has reversed an Obama-era ACA guidance that extended healthcare nondiscrimination protections to transgender and LGBQ+ individuals. Obama’s ACA revision was positively life-changing for trans individuals like myself who, in addition to navigating endless gatekeeping and knowledge gaps by providers, had previously also understood that we could legally be denied treatment for being transgender.

Today, that worry returns; and in the middle of a global pandemic, on the four year mark of the Pulse massacre, as our community responds to the death of two Black trans women within 24 hours, this feels especially cruel. What happens now, if I contract COVID-19 and head to the emergency room, only to be denied treatment for being transgender? I would have little legal recourse, assuming that this policy revision is here to stay.

It is true that courts have consistently ruled in favor of LGBTQ+ folx in access to healthcare, but this requires trans folx to pursue legal action after the uniquely traumatizing experience of being harassed or refused by a provider.

It is comforting that several LGBTQ+ and legal organizations have stated plans to oppose this rule, but this does not diminish the bigger issue; that the Trump administration is committed to chiseling away protections for LGBQ+, and especially transgender people, for as long as he remains in office.

Still, as challenging as it may be, we need to fight back. We need to stand together, against this and any other oppressive policies of the Trump administration. If you, like myself, are determined to fight like hell to protect the progress we’ve made and fight for a better future for marginalized people, here are some steps you can take.

REGISTER TO VOTE, AND HELP YOUR FRIENDS DO THE SAME.

For those of you who are able, I beg you to bring your voice to the poll and vote 45 out of office this November. Trump has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to undoing as much of our progress as possible, and another four years with him could potentially devastate a number of marginalized communities.

While Joe Biden’s voting record on LGBTQ+ issues prior to 2012 gives me pause, he has since demonstrated some improvement. Though the verdict is out on whether he will actively advance trans rights, it is extremely unlikely (based on his stated views and the Democratic Party’s platform) that he will actively chip away at these. This is more than I could ever say for Trump.

Websites like TurboVote make registration super quick and painless. And while it may feel like your vote does not individually go a long way, there is immense power in numbers. Once you’re registered, help a friend sign up as well. 

Make sure to check the voter registration deadline for your state, as many of these are right around the corner!

STAY UP TO DATE ON TRUMP’S CRUSADE AGAINST THE TRANS COMMUNITY. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

I find a good portion of my trans news through them.us. For the latest from them, sign up for their weekly newsletter and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Stay up to date on GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project, which details 150 attacks by the Trump administration on the LGBTQ+ community.

Other great publications include Autostraddle, HuffPost – Queer Voices, and NPR.

SUPPORT AND DONATE TO ORGANIZATIONS TAKING ACTION TO FIGHT THE REVISION. 

Though Trump’s revision to Section 1557 of the ACA is set to go into effect in 60 days, there is still hope. Numerous legal and LGBTQ+ nonprofits have either filed or stated their intention to file lawsuits against the Trump administration for this heinous breach of our rights. 

Back in March, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for failure to enforce healthcare nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. 

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced yesterday that they will also file suit against the administration for their decision to roll back these protections.

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), Transgender Law Center (TLC), Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI), and the National Women’s Law Center have also teamed up to challenge this rule.

With your support, these organizations will have greater footing with which to oppose the Trump administration’s egregious attack on the trans community.

DONATE TO ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT TRANS RIGHTS YEAR-ROUND.

  • TLC – Aims to impact law, policy, and attitude in order to protect trans people from discrimination based on their identity or expression.
  • TLDEF – Offers legal resources for trans and gender non-conforming people. Their Name Change Project helps connect low-income TGNC folx seeking a legal name change with pro-bono lawyers (only available in certain states).
  • Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) – Aims to create change by amplifying the narratives, leadership and experiences of trans people of color.
  • Trans Justice Funding Project – Initiative that provides funding, by way of grants, to grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans folx.
  • The Okra Project – Provides home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black trans people as a means of addressing the global crisis faced by this community.
  • BTAC-COVID-19 Response – Run by Black trans folx, provides emergency grants to trans people affected by COVID-19.
  • Marsha P. Johnson Institute – Protects the human rights of Black trans people by “organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting [their] collective power.”
  • G.L.I.T.S. – Helps trans sex workers with their immediate needs (such as healthcare, housing, etc.)
  • Black Trans Men – Aims to empower and support Black trans men in all areas of their lives.
  • For the Gworls – Provides funding to Black trans folx to assist with rent and gender-affirming surgeries.
Image from theokraproject.com

(Please note that this list is centered around national organizations specifically focused on the trans community. These resources were compiled from broader lists of Black queer and trans organizations. Find those lists here, here, and here.)

SUPPORT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT.

Existing at the intersection of multiple forms of discrimination, Black transgender people – and specifically Black trans women – will be disproportionately affected by this ruling. 

Healthcare for trans people is an intersectional issue; by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, you are also helping to support healthcare and other rights for some of the most vulnerable members of the trans community.

Show up to protests, share resources on social, and amplify BIPOC voices – especially those of trans and gender non-conforming BIPOC. Denounce white supremacy and police brutality, and call out your racist friends and family members in public and on social. Educate yourself, accept that you will continue to mess up, accept feedback, and aim to be better every single day.

And, of course, defund the police.

Image from blacklivesmatter.com

READ AND SHARE TRANS HEALTHCARE RESOURCES.

Healthcare can be one of the most traumatic and arduous battlegrounds for transgender people. Fortunately, there are several resources designed to help us navigate this.

TLDEF’S Trans Health Project seeks to support trans folx in challenging disrimination in health care and insurance. It offers guidance for navigating health insurance, statements from major medical organizations, state laws, a list of trans health care providers, and more. TLDEF encourages you to contact them if you have experienced discrimination in healthcare.

Project HEALTH’s TransLine offers medical e-consultation by trans-competent providers. Their goal is to help trans folx across the nation access the best healthcare possible.

The WPATH Standards of Care set the precedent for evidence-based, affirming medical and mental health treatment of trans and gender non-conforming people. If you’re looking for research to back up claims about gender-affirming care, this is a great place to start.

Amplify these resources via social media, and share them with others (especially with the trans folx and allies in your life!)

CALL OR E-MAIL YOUR OFFICIALS TO DEMAND LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR TGNC PEOPLE.

Call and/or e-mail your city and state officials and demand that protections for transgender people be codified in your state law. You can find their contact info here. These must specifically enumerate nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in all areas of life, including but not limited to: employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, healthcare, private insurance, medicaid, and school. You can read about your city or state’s existing nondiscrimination protections here.

It is important to note that states have the right to implement their own nondiscrimination protections that supersede those on the federal level. In 2019, for example, Governor Cuomo instituted regulations in New York City that protect transgender people from discrimination in healthcare settings despite the federal rollback.  22 states currently have such protections.

Governor Cuomo set an important precedent by extending New York healthcare nondiscrimination protections to include transgender people.
New York set an important precedent by extending New York healthcare nondiscrimination protections to include transgender people.

SAY THEIR NAMES. AND THEN SAY THEIR NAMES WITH YOUR WALLET.

On a broader scale, hateful rhetoric and policies position trans folx at a heightened risk for fatal violence. This is especially true for trans women of color, who live at the intersection of transphobia, misogyny, racism, and homophobia. 

The epidemic of both fatal and non-fatal violence against the trans community is a crisis. Just this week, we lost two Black transgender women to racist, transphobic violence. 

Say their names, and then continue to raise awareness and donate in their honor.

Riah Milton, 25, “was just a joy to be around.”

Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, 27, “was truly one of a kind.”’

Before that, we lost Nina Pop and Tony McDade. Okra Project has launched mental health funds in their honor.

May they rest in peace and power.

  • Dominique Fells. Image from hrc.org.
  • Nina Pop. Image from hrc.org.
  • Tony McDade. Image from hrc.org.
  • Riah Milton. Image from hrc.org.

USE YOUR VOICE AS AN ALLY TO SUPPORT TRANS RIGHTS & AMPLIFY MARGINALIZED VOICES.

Sharing articles on social media is a great start. So many folx on my feed have spoken out against this attack on the trans community, which is super encouraging to see. 

The danger with social media, however, is that it is often an echo chamber. Our ability to curate our friends list/followers, in conjunction with social media algorithms, means that we rarely have to see posts that challenge our existing views, which plays into a phenomenon called confirmation bias.

Have you ever noticed that your feed tends primarily to feature posts and perspectives with which you agree? Well, the same is true for those who oppose or remain on the fence about trans rights! 

It’s important that you use what you learn on social media to actively educate those around you, with a particular emphasis on those individuals who may be on the fence about these issues. It’s unlikely that you’re going to help an ardent Trumpeter see the error of their ways (though, oh my GOODNESS, it sure can be fun to try!); it is exponentially more likely to impact folks who are blissfully ignorant and/or not entirely sure where they stand!

Share educational resources from trusted sources with these folx (fact check articles using snopes.com or other sources if you’re unsure that it’s credible!), call them out on their racism, transphobia, misogyny, etc., and help them grow. Share content created by trans folx, and more specifically trans folx of color, as this content often reflects the most nuanced, intersectional perspectives. Sometimes, all it takes is one ally to point someone down the path to intersectional trans allyship.

By all means, continue to stand up for trans rights and call out transphobia on your favorite transphobic uncle/cousin/random narcissist from high school’s Instagram posts – if anything, this shows trans folx scrolling past that we are not alone, and that there are cisgender allies who have our backs. Just try not to take it too personally if they don’t change.

ABOVE ALL, BE A SUPPORT FOR YOUR TRANS LOVED ONES.

If your trans friend needs help navigating trans-affirming healthcare clinics, be there to help them search.

If your trans sister is seeing a new doctor and would feel more comfortable if someone attends her first appointment alongside her, feel free to offer.

If your trans partner is struggling because the Trump administration has launched yet another attack on our rights, be there to lend an ear.

Listen to what we’re saying and asking of you, and meet us where we are. Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of love. 

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