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Transgender suicide hotline calls quadruple after Trump memo leak

Josh Jackman October 30, 2018
US President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to boarding Marine One on October 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. - Trump is traveling to North Carolina for a "Make America Great Again" rally. (Photo by Alex Edelman / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump has confirmed that his administration is "looking into" a new trans policy (ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty)

A transgender suicide hotline has received four times as many calls after it was revealed that the Trump administration is considering a proposal to legally erase trans people.

Trans Lifeline, which is the only organisation of its kind to hire exclusively trans operators, said on Instagram on October 23 that it had also handled twice as many first-time callers as normal.

The leaked Department of Health and Human Services’ memo published in the New York Times on October 21 proposed defining a person’s sex as unchangeably male or female from birth, barring official recognition of trans people. Trump later confirmed that the White House was “looking at” imposing a new transgender policy.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: L.G.B.T. activists from the National Center for Transgender Equality, partner organizations and their supporters hold a 'We Will Not Be Erased' rally in front of the White House October 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Members of the L.G.B.T. community and their supporters across the country mobilized quickly to show support for Transgender rights after the New York Times published news of an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes a strict definition of gender based on a person’s genitalia at birth. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Activists protested the proposal outside the White House (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

This has had “direct and immediate impacts on real lives,” Sam Ames, Trans Lifeline’s executive director, told Teen Vogue.

“This is bad news, but it isn’t new news,” Ames added.

“Playing politics with civil rights of a vulnerable population has consequences. But moments like this are exactly why Trans Lifeline exists.

Trans Lifeline announced the surge in calls on its Instagram page (translifeline/instagram)

“Our hotline intervenes at the moment of crisis,” continued Ames, encouraging cisgender people—those who identify with the sex assigned at birth—to speak up to other cisgender people about the issues affecting transgender people’s lives, as well as donating to trans-led organisations to express support for the community.

Ames also pledged to keep fighting with the transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people who would be affected by the HHS policy change. 

The leaked memo led trans activists to hold “We Will Not Be Erased” protests outside the White House and in New York and Washington State, among other locations, and around 1,500 parents of trans children to write an open letter to “bullies” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“We’re here for you, and we’re not going anywhere” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

They said that the proposal was “the latest cruel attempt in a long line of attacks to diminish the existence and humanity of our children and to dismantle their basic human and civil rights.

“We want to make this very clear—when our children are under attack, we will fight like hell to protect them,” they added.

Parents of trans children from all of America’s 50 states signed the message, which continued: “We fear every day that our children will encounter bullies but we never imagined that the most threatening bullies would be in the White House.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 21: People gather at a rally for LGBTQI+ rights at Washington Square Park on October 21, 2018 in New York City. Based on a leaked memo, The New York Times had reported that morning that the Trump administration is considering re-defining gender as a "biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth," which activists say would subject transgender and gender nonconforming people to discrimination, harassment, and violence. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
“When our children are under attack, we will fight like hell to protect them” (Yana Paskova/Getty)

“These children—all children—deserve to be treated with love, respect and acceptance.

“Our children cannot be reduced to a deeply flawed, debunked understanding of what makes us the people we are. Our children know who they are, and we know what they need.”

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 or the Trans Lifeline on 877-565-8860.

More: Department of Health and Human Services, Donald Trump, memo, Politics, suicide, Trans, Trans Lifeline, Transgender, US, US

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