Bathrooms just became less safe for trans students. Here's what to do now.

The path toward justice for transgender people in America is not a straight one.

Since the Trump administration seized the steering wheel in the White House, setbacks have halted — and even reversed — progress for transgender Americans when it comes to accessing safe bathrooms. There’s no sign these setbacks will stop in the months and years ahead.

Photo by Arno Burgi/AFP/Getty Images.


If you believe in transgender rights, don't feel helpless. The transgender community needs us now more than ever.

Here are 15 ways to show trans people you're in their corner:

1. Know the facts.

On one hand, research finds many transgender people are harassed or physically assaulted while being forced to use a restroom that doesn't correspond with their gender. On the other hand, the idea that ensuring trans people equal bathroom access will somehow legalize the right for a predator to wander into a women's bathroom is a classic case of fear-mongering born from a myth.

Use the facts to make your case when discussing trans rights with those who want to learn more.

2. Know what policies are in place in your own community's school district.

Trump's reversal on trans students' bathroom rights will likely leave schools making more decisions about restroom regulations. Find out what (if any) policies are in place at the schools near you and advocate for trans students who need you in your own backyard.

Image via iStock.

3. Become a Trevor ambassador for the Trevor Project, the nation's leading LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization.

As calls to their 24/7 hotline surged in the aftermath of the election, the Trevor Project was one of the critical groups providing aid to young people in desperate need.

Many young trans people will rely on them in the months ahead, and volunteers will be crucial. You can become a Trevor ambassador in a city near you and spare some time to help the group do its life-changing work.

4. If you know a transgender kid, reach out to their parents to see if it's OK for you to send your love.

A sweet card, a warm hug, or a trip to the ice cream parlor — just to say "You are loved" — can make all the difference. If you know a transgender adult, reach out to them and see how you, as an ally, can best help efforts toward equality in your own community.

Image via iStock.

5. Fund the resistance through Lambda Legal, a group using the law to help protect trans kids from Trump's policies.

"While the Trump-Pence administration wages its war on children, we at Lambda Legal will redouble our efforts to protect transgender and other vulnerable kids," the group said in a statement. "We are already in court fighting for transgender students, and we are prepared to sue any school district that discriminates in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions."

6. Write a reassuring message to trans students online using the #ProtectTransKids hashtag.

The hashtag, which began trending Feb. 22, is being used to send notes of love and solidarity to anyone who could use it.

7. And while you're on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, share this image to let everyone know where you stand.

1 in 3 transgender youth has tried to commit suicide. These kids need more protection, not less. #ProtectTransKids

A post shared by Liz Plank (@feministabulous) on

8. If it's the right fit for you, become a member of Fierce, or tell someone else about the opportunity.

A New York City-based group, Fierce runs youth-led campaigns and leadership development programs so more young, queer people of color feel empowered to influence the world around them today and in the years ahead.

9. Get involved with the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC is the nation's leading political advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, and equal bathroom access is one of its most important issues.

10. Find out if the schools in your community have a Gay-Straight Alliance.

Again, Trump's decision will give state and local school districts more room to discriminate when it comes to bathroom access. This makes it even more crucial that you know what's happening in the schools in your own neighborhood.

The Gay-Straight Alliance is one group that operates at the local level, helping build bridges between straight, cisgender students and their LGBTQ peers.

Find out if there's a GSA program in your own school district. If there's not, help start one.

11. Take part in a local or national event held by GLSEN, a group committed to making sure every grade school in America is safe for LGBTQ students.

Among many services, the nonprofit does extensive research on how and why schools are failing queer kids and provides resources to educators to help fix the problems.

"While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN won’t," the group's executive director, Dr. Eliza Byard, said in a statement.

12. Buy a shirt from Trans Lifeline and help save lives.

Similarly to the Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline runs a hotline for any transgender person in need. Trans Lifeline, however, is operated solely by trans staffers for trans people, which can make a difference to those seeking help.

If you purchase a shirt from their online store, proceeds go toward helping the group fulfill and expand its mission of saving and bettering lives.

13. Learn more about the causes of LGBTQ youth homelessness, and fight for change.

It's vital we fight for transgender rights when it comes to bathrooms, but we also can't forget about the thousands of trans youth across the country made homeless simply because of their gender identity. Groups like the Ali Forney Center, the Happy Hippie Foundation, My Friend's Place, and the True Colors Fund are fighting every day to help homeless LGBTQ youth access stable housing, employment, and an education.

14. Watch and share this powerful video featuring a trans girl and her loving family on Facebook.

The more people see it, the more hearts and minds will open.

15. Donate to the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

The nonprofit, which began as a grassroots effort in 1979, now provides social programs — like arts and culture, job readiness, and health and wellness initiatives — for LGBTQ people ages 13-24 in and around New York City. It does great work, but it needs your help.

Transgender people have always needed our love and support, but this is a particularly critical moment when each one of us can make a difference.

Whether it's donating what you can, sharing a note online, or simply giving a warm hug, you might be the person a student — maybe in your own community — needs this very moment. Show them you care.

This article was updated on March 6, 2017.

True

Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

Anyone who has gone through the process of disentangling themselves from an addiction knows it's an ongoing, daily battle. It may get easier, and the payoffs may become more apparent, but it's still a decision someone makes each day to stay detached from their substance of choice.

Seeing someone who has a long record of sobriety—especially after a very public struggle—can be motivating and inspiring for others in different stages of their recovery journey. That's part of why actor Rob Lowe's announcement that he's reached 31 years sober is definitely something to celebrate.

"Today I have 31 years drug and alcohol free," Lowe wrote on Twitter. "I want to give thanks to everyone walking this path with me, and welcome anyone thinking about joining us; the free and the happy. And a big hug to my family for putting up with me!! Xoxo"

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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