Transgender Americans aren’t confident that president-elect Donald Trump will protect their rights, which makes Jan. 20 a deadline of sorts.
Many members of the LGBTQ community are fearful that they will face new obstacles after Trump takes over. To help them take advantage of the relevant sanctuary of President Obama’s remaining days in office, allies are using the hashtag #TransLawHelp to raise money and help trans people get the legal services they need pro bono.
When a transgender person transitions, there is an exhaustive list of legal documents that must be updated, including birth certificates and passports. On election night, Google exec Liz Fong-Jones tweeted a call-to-action, imploring trans Americans to apply for updated passports now because “federal passport recognition of gender changes is by executive order in the U.S.”
Dear fellow trans Americans: apply for a passport NOW. You likely won't be able to get one that recognizes your gender in 2017 :(
— Liz Fong-Jones (@lizthegrey) November 9, 2016
Coming up with the money to cover the changes and associated legal fees before Jan. 20 isn’t feasible for many, which is why a Twitter user named Riley (they prefer not to use their last name) called on the community to organize.
— white ppl are ugly. (@dtwps) November 9, 2016
Riley launched a website, TransLawHelp.org, with a directory of lawyers offering pro bono services to the trans community. As part of the campaign, Kendra Albert, a legal professional in San Francisco, started a matching program to help trans people to get passports. They say more than $50,000 has been raised, as of Nov. 17.
We've matched people for $49,000. *collapses in heap* We can still help you and we still need donors! email@example.com. #TransLawHelp
— Kendra Albert (@KendraSerra) November 17, 2016
New York attorney Carl Charles raised an additional $10,000 bringing the total to $60,000, according to Riley.
— Carl Charles (@oh_rarl) November 15, 2016
Charles’ 30-part explanation is online here.
Trump’s stance on trans issues is murky and often shifts depending on the context in which he is speaking. In the past, he’s said he supports people using restrooms of their choice but he also publically endorsed North Carolina’s anti-transgender law. Vice president-elect Mike Pence’s position on LGBTQ issues is far less ambiguous.
“I’m a trans person of color myself, and trans women of color are experiencing higher and higher rates of murder and violence every year, without having a president whose vice president and cabinet espouse clearly anti-queer policies,” Riley told GeekWire. “What will people do when they can announce ‘our president is cool with this?’ I don’t know, and that scares me.”