Demonstrations broke out all across the U.S. after Trump was elected Nov. 8. They continued for over a week. This is a scene from demonstrations in Philadelphia on Nov. 10
18 Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect LGBTQ Rights Under Donald Trump
BY JARED MILRAD
Originally printed 1/19/2017 (Issue 2503 - Between The Lines News)
Editor's note: In the aftermath of the election, Mic's readers have asked what they can do to take action and lend support to the causes they care about. So we turned to our generation's leading activists and crowdsourced their solutions. We are publishing stories that present their suggestions for what you can do on topics like racial justice, gender equality and immigration. This list of ideas for LGBTQ rights has been edited for clarity. -- Jake Horowitz, Mic's co-founder and editor-at-large
In the days since the election, I created a campaign called "We Won't Go Back," designed to give Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to fight for the highest ideals of the country we love. It's a place to contact our elected officials, support the causes we believe in, organize, volunteer, get registered to vote and build an inclusive, hopeful future. Fortunately, I'm not alone. Hundreds of LGBTQ organizations and leaders around the country have joined the fight to protect the progress we've achieved, not only for marriage equality, but also for the rights of LGBTQ youth, seniors, the homeless and other vulnerable members of our diverse communities.
In that spirit, here are 18 ways you can get involved in your own community and take a stand to protect LGBTQ rights after Trump's election, provided by some of our generation's leading LGBTQ activists and organizations:
1. Learn your rights
Many people don't realize that their rights are, in fact, protected on a local, state and federal level -- specifically in health care, employment and in school. These laws cannot simply be undone overnight. Understanding your legal protections is very important to fighting discrimination. Lambda Legal has compiled a post-election FAQ and Know Your Rights information guide. Read the materials carefully. If you need help with any legal matter related to LGBTQ issues or HIV discrimination, contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk.
2. Donate or volunteer with Trans Lifeline
Trans Lifeline is the only crisis hotline specifically designed for transgender people. They've experienced an unprecedented number of calls from trans people in crisis following the election (more than 300 within the first day or so). They've continued to experience a high level of demand in the days since. Transgender people are nine times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population. In the wake of the election, trans people fear for their rights and lives even more. Trans people who call suicide hotlines face ignorance and discrimination. They need your support.
3. Get LGBTQ individuals elected to office
We need more diverse talent in public life. Support the Victory Fund, an organization which works to support LGBTQ candidates running for office nationwide. Victory Fund provides trainings, endorsements, fellowships and resources for LGBTQ candidates. In November 2016, 87 of the Fund's endorsed candidates won elections across all levels of government, including Kate Brown of Oregon, the nation's first openly LGBTQ governor. Carlos Guillermo Smith became the first openly LGBTQ Latino elected to the Florida State Legislature, representing the Orlando area after the Pulse nightclub tragedy. All six openly LGBTQ members of Congress were re-elected. You can find a list of all of the candidates that Victory Fund endorsed here.
4. Gear up for the Supreme Court fight
There's an upcoming Supreme Court case that is very important for the future of transgender rights: Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. In 2015, the ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board for adopting a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers. The question will be heard at the Supreme Court in February, with a decision expected in summer 2017. Become familiar with the case, and then donate and show your support.
5. Support media that correctly represents the LGBTQ community
Now more than ever we need correct representation across all media, especially when it comes to the casting of cisgender people in transgender roles (ex. Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl") and the erasure of people of color and trans sex workers in stories of our history (ex. the "bioflick" Stonewall). Here are a few shows and films that do this the right way: "Orange is the New Black," with Laverne Cox as trans prisoner Sophia; "Tangerine," which casts two trans women, Mya Parks and Kitana "Kiki" Rodriguez, as trans sex workers; "Sense8," in which Jamie Clayton plays a lesbian trans woman and cyberactivist; and "How to Get Away With Murder," where Alexandra Billings plays a trans woman on trial for her husband's murder.
6. Call your members of Congress
Tell your elected officials how important it is to protect LGBTQ people. Tell them you will be watching what they do. You don't even need to be a citizen to do this! You can find your local representatives at CommonCause.org. Also check out the Human Rights Campaign's guide to elected officials (http://www.hrc.org/your-elected-officials. Follow these tweets for guidance on how to effectively contact your member of Congress. And here's a script you can use when you call, which includes a section about marriage equality.
7. Support LGBTQ centers around the country
Leading organizations are providing mental health, counseling and support group services to vulnerable LGBTQ people. Now more than ever, they need support. Consider donating or volunteering with CenterLink, a member-based coalition founded in 1994 that supports the development of strong, sustainable LGBTQ community centers in the United States and around the world. The Center Orlando organized vigils and provided counseling following the Pulse nightclub shooting. The Los Angeles LGBT Center serves Southern California, home to some of the most vulnerable LGBTQ populations in the country, and sees more than 42,000 client visits per month.
8. Specifically, support local homeless youth shelters
An estimated 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Centers geared specifically toward youth are instrumental in providing career placement, school, college and secondary school mentorship and health care. Here's a database (http://www.lgbtcenters.org/) of LGBTQ centers, where you can search for a homelessness-focused group. If you don't have a center in your community, consider starting one or checking to see if shelters near you properly provide for their LGBTQ clients. Also, consider donating food, clothing or money to LGBTQ shelters in other communities. At this time of year, many hold toy and clothing drives; others accept donations year-round.
9. Support or create after-school programs for queer youth
Now more than ever, LGBTQ youth need safe spaces to build closer relationships with teachers and friends outside of their potentially hostile home environments. If you're in a position to do so, start a gay-straight alliance or a chapter of PFLAG in your local school so that queer youth have a place to express their concerns, fears and needs without the threat of ridicule, rejection or outing. Check out GLSEN or PFLAG for more information and tools to start a program in your community.
10. Support the Human Rights Campaign
HRC is the largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization, representing more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide. Here are a few of the issues HRC is focused on: transgender equality and bringing visibility to the discrimination and violence transgender people experience daily; banning discrimination in housing and the workplace for all LGBTQ people; and advocating for fair-minded Supreme Court justices. Become familiar with HRC's work and donate or volunteer to show your support.
11. Utilize the power of your wallet
You have tremendous power as a consumer to support brands that support LGBTQ rights. Conversely, don't line the pockets of corporations that support anti-LGBTQ legislation and elected officials. To find out more about which companies to support, consider these resources: OpenSecrets (http://www.opensecrets.org/), the HRC's Corporate Equality Index (http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index) and Guidestar (https://www.guidestar.org/Home.aspx), which allows you to review the expenditures of corporate foundations.
12. Take a stand as a business
Advocacy from businesses is particularly important at this time. If you're an employer, make sure you have an internal LGBTQ group for your LGBTQ employees. Companies like Salesforce, Facebook, Apple, Google, and the Gap have great internal organizations that can serve as models. Salesforce's Marc Benioff and PayPal's Max Levchin have both been proactive in getting businesses to take a stand in the wake of LGBTQ protests in North Carolina and Indiana. For LGBTQ employees, make sure to join your company's group if one exists.
13. March, rally, make noise and fight
The modern American queer revolution started with a brick thrown through a window. Today, we can't afford to take a passive role in this fight. Here are a few different tactics you can use to get involved: On social media, follow groups like @MarchAndRallyLA and monitor popular events in your area on Facebook to find large organized protests. Visit https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights for a full list of your rights as a public protester. If you don't live in a large metropolitan area, or don't feel safe protesting in your community, take action online. Write protests in the form of blog posts, emails to your government officials, vlogs, or guest op-eds on news sites.
14. Be visible
One of our most effective and powerful weapons is sharing our own stories publicly. In March 2016, South Dakota's conservative Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed HB 1008, an anti-trans bill, after meeting with trans students and hearing their stories. It's important for LGBTQ people to be loud and bold members of the community. If you're in a position to do so safely, make sure people understand who you are and how you feel about queer issues. Post pro-LGBTQ articles on your Facebook page. Hold your partner's hand in public. Wear a Pride shirt. Talk to your friends and family about who you and other queer people are. As long as you keep yourself safe, do everything to ensure others you meet know you're living as your authentic self and not going anywhere.
15. Study LGBTQ history
Contrary to popular belief, the LGBTQ movement as a whole did not begin at Stonewall. The first documented gay rights organization in the U.S., the Society for Human Rights, was formed much earlier, in the 1920s, and LGBTQ history dates back hundreds of years. It is important to get educated on this history. One great resource for learning this history is Quist, an app that provides "this day in history" info about LGBTQ issues. Another is The Lavender Effect, which works to document LGBTQ history in creative ways. Finally, consider going to LGBTQ archives across the U.S.
16. Convert your most unlikely friends into LGBTQ allies
Identify the most unlikely high-profile potential allies in your life and create a game plan to get them to become champions of LGBTQ equality. Perhaps you went to college with someone who is now a professional athlete, prominent preacher or politician? Maybe you are family friends with a local business owner who is well known in your community? In every community, there are people who perpetuate anti-LGBTQ stigma and stereotypes. If individuals from within the communities we trust the least become our vocal supporters, it will change hearts and minds. To educate and activate your friends, articulate the why and what: "Why" should they care about LGBTQ equality, and "what" do we want them to do about it?
17. Have conversations with Trump supporters
Find ways to engage loved ones and others who voted for Trump. Have honest, respectful and ongoing conversations. Here's a resource with some suggested language, including some areas specifically focused on LGBTQ rights and gender identity.
18. Make your advocacy intersectional
Over the next four years, there will be many communities that find themselves isolated, excluded or othered. The only way to meaningfully prevent that is by working together. Pick three social justice issues with which you feel least comfortable and get educated about them by learning about the organizations doing the work in those spaces. Here are a few to start with: BYP100, a member-based activist organization creating justice and freedom for all black people; United We Dream, the largest immigrant-youth-led organization in the nation; and URGE, an organization mobilizing young people to support reproductive and gender equity.
Jared Milrad is an award-winning actor, writer, producer, consultant, entrepreneur and lawyer. Jared worked in The White House for President Barack Obama, founded a nationally recognized nonprofit organization, and was featured in Hillary Clinton's historic presidential campaign commercials ("Getting Started," "Equal"). Milrad has launched "We Won't Go Back", a people's movement for Americans of all backgrounds fighting to protect the country's highest ideals of inclusivity, equality, justice and opportunity.
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