Janet Mock lays out why protecting trans students is about so much more than bathrooms.

The Trump administration wants to roll back trans rights. This bestselling author makes a strong case for why he's wrong.

After the Trump administration rescinded the Department of Education's Obama-era guidelines to protect trans students, Janet Mock spoke up.

In her 2014 bestselling memoir "Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More," Mock gave readers a look at what life was like growing up transgender. On Feb. 22, 2017, the TV host, advocate, and author of the upcoming "Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me" came to the defense of trans students affected by Trump's latest action.

Mock speaks at the Women's March on Washington. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.


In a Facebook note, Mock described the mental, physical, and social toll of anti-trans discrimination in schools.

School was a place that Mock "considered a refuge" from some of the other challenges of everyday life. After she came out as trans during her sophomore year, that refuge was gone.

"I had issues with bathrooms and locker room access," Mock wrote. "I was sent home repeatedly due to 'dress code violations.' I was repeatedly called out of my name and misgendered daily by classmates and staff."

Mock at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco. Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for GLAAD.

"Always the first with my hand up, the one ready and willing to do and learn more, I would go home at night and seriously contemplate never returning to school. The struggle of waking up every day, getting dressed, walking to school and being met with stares and closed doors weighed heavily on me. I was only 15 years old."

Mock eventually was able to transfer to a more welcoming school where she wasn't discriminated against for being trans, and that made all the difference in the world.

Her new high school validated her, welcomed her, and offered her equal access to school facilities — and as a result, Mock was able to thrive, earning a college scholarship for her academic work.

"I know first hand how utterly vital it is for young people — for all of us actually — to be met with nods, applause, and open doors. It’s even more urgent for marginalized students, regardless of their ability, race, class, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation or gender expression and/or identities."

Trans students, like all students, should feel safe, encouraged, and accepted by their school.

That's just one of the most basic elements of education, and yet for many trans kids, that's lacking. According to a 2015 survey from GLSEN, 60% of trans students were denied access to restrooms that matched their gender identity. As a result, nearly 70% of trans students reported making efforts to avoid using school restrooms at all — some taking steps as extreme as not eating or drinking during the day.

Mock at the Shorty Awards on April 11, 2016, in New York City. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images.

Bullying is unacceptable when it comes from other students, and it's even worse when it comes (even passively) from teachers or administration. What the Trump administration did by rescinding the Department of Education guidance for transgender students suggests that maybe trans students don't deserve the same sort of nurturing environment as others. What kind of message does that send to teachers, parents, and students?

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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