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What to Do If You’re Trans and Live in America Now

Some things you can do before this next administration settles in.

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Right up front: last night was more than heartbreaking. It was earth-shattering.

There’s no gentle way to say it, so here it is: if you’re trans, you can probably expect your world to change–if it hasn’t already. Last night, Trump’s running partner, Mike Pence (who firmly believes that you can electrocute gay children into being straight) promised that this administration would be repealing and rolling back many of the LGBT protections put in place by Obama. While many LGB people have much to fear, I mean it when I say trans people in particular will more than likely be made to suffer at the hands of this administration.

Pence, in delivering this promise, specifically cited bathroom laws, saying (via PinkNews) “the transgender bathroom issue can be resolved with common sense at the local level.” He went on to say, “This is such an example of an administration that seems to have… there’s no area of our lives too small for them to want to regulate, no aspect of our constitution too large for them to ignore.”

The thing is, though, that we still have a tiny bit of time, a small, open window through which we can try to institutionalize the policies that have protected us here on a state level. While hatred and discrimination may be normalized throughout the country, there are things you can do for yourself right now to get prepared for the next four (to eight) years.

First off: recognize that you are not alone. This is a terrifying, trying time for those of us who identify as trans in this country. Despite what the electoral map and the current party in power would have you believe, you are not alone, and you do not have to deal with this monumental failing by white supremacists on your own.

If you feel you are a danger to yourself, then please do not hesitate to get help. This is, hands down, one of the first things you need to know. You must take care of yourself before you can begin to think about taking care of others. If your self-care involves reaching out to a loved one or a lifeline, then please do so.

The Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860 in the US, and (877) 330-6366 in Canada. If you don’t want to speak, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a chat you can use to speak to someone.

If you can, get your passport. More importantly, get it with your correct gender marker and name. It’s complicated now, but it’s more than likely to become nigh impossible when the full brunt of this upcoming administration kicks in. If you haven’t looked into this at all yet, the National Center for Transgender Equality has a helpful guide that may help.

In short, you need:

  • a letter from your physician attesting to the fact that you’re undergoing “medical transition”
    • Note that for some physicians, being on Hormone Replacement Therapy is enough to obtain this letter, but it’s not enough for all.
  • a court order/decree with proof of your name change (if you went through the court to do this).
    • In my own experience, the original decree was required, but returned to me as soon as my application was done.

In addition to the above, I’m sorry to also say you also need money. There is absolutely a sense of privilege pervading this process, and obtaining a passport isn’t cheap, but it is one of the few documents that you can hold that will allow you to travel unabated both within and outside the country. Given the changing laws around identification documentation and how driver’s licenses will soon not be enough to travel with (in some states), a passport is essential.

If you receive healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), then you face a risk of losing not just your source of hormones (or other medically-needed drugs), but also your healthcare in general. Trump’s made it clear that he has no love for the ACA, and with a GOP majority Senate and House behind him, chances are we’re going to lose the ACA.

Right now, if you can, speak with your doctor to find out your options. As you well know, regular blood tests are often required when undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy, and bills for those tests add up. As well, your hormone prescription will be tied in to your receiving those tests, so try to speak with your doctor to work something out if possible.

Things are a bit more difficult to grasp around this particular need, and while I wish there were a concrete way for you to get the hormones you need, I recognize that there’s just so many grey area edge cases that I don’t know if I can provide any more concrete advice on what you can do. The best thing you can do right now is speak with your doctor and reach out to your own community resources to see what’s available to you.

Speaking of community, if you are an ally, now is the time to reach out to a someone you care about and let them know they are loved. Keep in mind the Ring Theory of Comfort–reach out to someone more affected. While we all hurt, and I am sure of that, I can promise you that your LGBTQIA friends are likely feeling very affected right now and could use a kind word or a promise of solidarity.

A significant portion of America has shown that they do not care about lives other than their own. It is in this that we must show we are stronger than them by doing just the opposite: stand together and care deeply for those left behind by this callous, brash decision. If you are hurting right now, I am truly sorry.

But at the end of the day, know this: I love you. I may not know you, but I love you. I may never meet you, but I love you. You are not alone.

(image via Shutterstock/Wasan Ritthawon)

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