Here's why trans people are scrambling to update legal documents before January.

I'm transgender, and I've never had a passport. I've spent the week since the election kind of freaking out.

I don't travel much, so I've never had much use for that particular form of identification. In the week after the country elected Donald Trump, however, I've been frantically trying to figure out how to get one with my correct gender on it because, on Jan. 20, the passport process could get a lot harder for me and others like me.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


Having accurate legal identification is hugely important, especially for trans folks, and passports are one of the strongest forms of ID you can get.

When a trans person doesn't have accurate ID, we're at risk of being outed at every turn, putting us at risk for discrimination. In some states, it's still legal to be fired or evicted from an apartment for being trans. And maybe — scarily — we might even be physically attacked or killed for being trans.

Since 2010, trans people have finally been able to update our gender on passports with a simple doctor's note acknowledging that we are trans. Before the 2010 rule change, getting a passport with accurate name and gender information was a difficult and expensive process. Trans people were required to prove they had undergone sexual reassignment surgery, even though it can cost tens of thousands of dollars (often out-of-pocket) and only about 1 in 4 trans people are estimated to have even undergone it.

While issues surrounding birth certificates and drivers' licenses are left up to the states, the updated passport rule from 2010 (which was put in place by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) provides a lifeline to trans people in search of an internationally-accepted form of ID with information that reflects who they are. It's a huge step forward.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people at the UN in Geneva in 2011. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AFP/Getty Images.

1 in 3 trans people still lack any form of ID matching their correct gender, and with time running out, allies are stepping up in a big way.

Scrambling to update my documents before Trump's inauguration, I found answers to some of my passport questions in a surprising place: Twitter.

Do I need to get my name changed before I get my gender marker updated? What does the doctor's note have to say? How much does it cost to update my passport? What if I can't afford it?

With just over two months left in President Obama's term, the hashtag #TransLawHelp, started by Twitter user @dtwps, sprung up as a way for trans people who need help updating identifying documents to connect with lawyers, many of whom are offering their services pro bono.

Within a few days, the website translawhelp.org was launched as a directory of resources inspired by the hashtag.

It's hard to know if President-elect Donald Trump will keep the existing 2010 passport rule in place or not. What I do know is that many of us see this as a situation where it's better to be safe than sorry, as Vice President-elect Mike Pence made it clear in an October interview that the Trump administration will take action to roll back President Obama's pro-LGBTQ policies, guidances, and executive orders.

Knowing what we'll be up against makes what people are doing to help get #TransLawHelp up and running so powerful. It's so reassuring to know that where the government might (but hopefully won't) fail us, there are friends and allies ready to step in and do what they can to help.

The election has been rough for a lot of us, especially those of us with a lot at stake, and it can be easy to lose hope. That's why these moments, where people come together to help one another when they're scared and in need, are so important.

Whether it's the #TransLawHelp hashtag, seeing people speaking out against hate, taking part in peaceful protests, or simply connecting with others to let them know you have their backs, the world becomes a less scary place than it can sometimes feel.

A protest outside of Trump Tower takes place. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

For many of us, there's going to be a lot of uncertainty over the next several years. There's going to be a lot of fear. There's probably going to be a lot of pain and sadness. That's why now, maybe more than ever before, it's crucial that we stand together against hate and discrimination. Whether it's hate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or any other defining feature that makes us the wonderful and diverse country, we need to reject division.

My own personal panic, nearly a week removed from Election Day, has calmed into a focus and determination I didn't even know I had in me before the election.

That's all thanks to the outpouring of love and unity and understanding that I found in unexpected places from unexpected people.

I have the resources I need to update my passport — thanks in part to hashtags like #TransLawHelp. I sincerely hope the incoming administration doesn't attempt to roll back the progress that's been made in the name of LGBTQ rights, but if they do, I feel confident there are good people among us who will stand up for what's right.

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 year 2018 was a pivotal one in the produce industry, the Red Delicious was supplanted as the most popular apple in America by the sweeter, crisper Gala.

It was only a matter of time. The Red Delicious looked the part of the king of the apples with its deep red, flawless skin. But its interior was soft, mealy, and pretty bland. The Red Delicious was popular for growers because its skin hid any bruises and it was desired by consumers because of its appearance.

But these days it's having a hard time competing with the delectable crunch provided by the Gala, honeycrisp, and Fuji.

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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."