21 powerful photos from protests following Trump's anti-trans order.

On Feb. 22, the Trump administration formally rescinded Obama-era guidelines protecting transgender students from discrimination — but hope for trans students remains.

The Obama administration's now-rescinded letter was merely guidance to school districts as to whether existing law provides anti-discrimination protection on the basis of students' gender identity, something that's likely to be determined this year when the Supreme Court hears 17-year-old transgender student Gavin Grimm's case.

What makes the Trump administration's action harmful is not a matter of whether this changes the rights of trans students (it doesn't or, at least, it shouldn't). It's harmful because it signals to those who want to deny those rights that the administration won't intervene on behalf of trans students.


Gavin Grimm protests outside White House in support of trans students. Photo by Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA via AP.

In response, protests popped up in New York, Washington, and San Francisco to show support for trans students.

Grimm addressed the crowd at a demonstration near the White House, while others made their voices heard outside New York's LGBT landmark Stonewall Inn and San Francisco City Hall. Trans youth, trans adults, and their allies set out with a simple message: Trans rights are human rights.

8-year-old trans child Tal Moskowitz held a sign at the New York rally. AP Photo/Kathy Willens.

Sara Kaplan (L) and her 9-year-old transgender son James attend the San Francisco protest. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu.

New York. Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

New York. Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

A recent estimate from UCLA's Williams Institute shows that around 150,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17 identify as transgender — roughly 0.7% of the population.

What the Obama White House tried to do with its guidance letter is urge states and school districts to ensure that none of those 150,000 teens face discrimination for no reason other than who they are. Instead of having to deal with this on a case-by-case basis for every school district — which, as Grimm's upcoming Supreme Court case demonstrates, leads to confusion and lawsuits — the federal government tried to clarify that. Trump's move makes those waters as murky as they were before, if not more so.

Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Some have argued that allowing trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity will put other students at risk. This has been thoroughly debunked.

A common refrain from those who oppose trans rights is a fear that cisgender (non-trans) boys will simply "pretend" to be trans in order to infiltrate girls' locker rooms or to dominate girls' sports.

"I wish that somebody would have told me in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in P.E.," former presidential candidate and opponent of transgender rights Mike Huckabee said in a 2015 speech at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. "I’m pretty sure I would have found my feminine side, and said, 'Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.'"

This simply does not happen.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

In 2015, Media Matters spoke with officials in 17 school districts with transgender protections, representing more than 600,000 schools. The total number of problems? Zero.

15 states and the District of Columbia have clear gender identity and sexual orientation protections that apply to schools. The number of times people have pretended to be trans so they can recreate the plot of Porky's and Ladybugs? Zero.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

Trans kids just want to exist in a world free from bullying, free from discrimination. That's all.

If there's one thing to take away from the protests that followed Trump's action, it's this: Trans students are loved and they aren't alone in this world.

Want to help out? Here's a helpful list of things you can do.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."