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‘Terrified’ trans people are calling out for help in record numbers every time Donald Trump attacks their rights

Nick Duffy September 8, 2020
US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

A trans crisis hotline has revealed it is flooded with calls every time the Trump administration moves to unpick trans rights.

The Trump administration has seen a widespread erosion of trans rights, with a stream of nefarious policies enacted to ban trans people from the military, to cease enforcing non-discrimination rules in schools, and to exclude homeless women from women’s shelters if they are suspected of being transgender.

The drive has had a detrimental impact on young trans people, according to Trans Lifeline, which operates the only dedicated crisis service for trans people in the US.

The hotline has answered more than 65,000 calls in the six years it has been in operation — an average of nearly 30 calls every day — with support available 24/7.

Elena Rose Vera, executive director of Trans Lifeline, said calls rose when Trump was elected, telling the LA Times: “People were terrified.”

The crisis line received 20,000 calls in 2018 alone as the Trump administration sought to remove protections for trans people from existing civil rights laws.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Trans people are worried about their future in uncertain times.

It’s not just Trump that people are worried about, with the trans-led helpline’s 70 volunteers fielding calls from people struggling with isolation and mental health, from people looking for support groups or advice on transitioning and “for no particular reason other than to talk to another transgender person”.

Many calls are employment-related, with trans people fearing discrimination in the workplace — a concern that has risen during the pandemic due to the economic hammering.

Vera added: “Being able to provide anything that is steady and reliable at a time of historic uncertainty, to be able to say, ‘If you reach out, someone can pick up’ — that feels very vital to me.”

Trans Lifeline volunteer Oriana said: “They’re really worried about finding new jobs. But it’s not just, ‘Will I be hired at all?’ –  it’s: ‘How will they treat me when I’m there?'”

The service is also often subjected to abusive prank calls encouraged by the alt-right online. But Oriana said that calls from genuine trans people looking for connection “made it all worth it.”

Trans Lifeline, a peer support service run by trans people for trans and questioning callers can be reached on 877-330-6366 in the US.

More: crisis, Trans, Transgender

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