March 31 is the Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual, worldwide event focusing on the lives of transgender people and the issues they face. Here are a few ways you can help foster understanding, recognition and support for a community facing steep challenges.
A difficult path to walk alone
Transgender adults experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than their peers with 41% of transgender adults having attempted suicide compared to less than 2% of the general population. A 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide. A 2021 Williams Institute study reports 30% of transgender youth have attempted suicide in the past year.
If you or someone you know is transgender and needs to talk, here are some of the resources available.
- The Trans Lifeline can be reached in the US at 1-877-565-8860 and in Canada at 1-877-330-6366
- The LGBT National Hotline is available at 1-888-843-4564. They also provide a LGBT Senior Hotline at 1-888-234-7243 and LGBTQ Youth can call 1-800-246-7743 or join youth chat rooms here.
- The Trevor Project crises counselors can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. Text ‘START’ to 678-678 to connect via text message, or chat online here.
- The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline can be reached at 1-877-360-5428
- Dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They also provide a Lifeline Chat here, and additional LGBTQ resources here.
- Text ‘HOME’ to 741741 to connect with crises counselors at Crises Text Line. To connect to their counselors on WhatsApp, click here.
The Williams Institute study also shows a significant drop in suicidal thoughts when there is support and acceptance from families, classmates and coworkers. But finding ways to be supportive can be hard, especially for potential allies who are struggling to understand and accept transgender people in their lives. Here are some resources to help.
- Transfamilies host free virtual parent support groups on zoom. The available sessions can be found here.
- Trans Lifeline Friends & Family call-back service has counselors available. Schedule a call at 1-877-565-8860.
- Gender Spectrum provides free online groups for family members, parents and caregivers here.
- Transfamily Support Services offers free virtual support groups and family engagement sessions here.
- PFLAG’s Straight for Equality program provides learning sessions to train trans allies in the workplace.
Facing violence for being transgender
Transgender Awareness week ends with the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, which honors the lives lost to anti-transgender violence. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for the community, with the Human Rights Campaign recording 50 transgender and non-conforming people killed. Transgender people are also more than four times likely to be victims of violent crime than cisgender people, according to a study from the UCLA School of Law. And the Office for Victims of Crime reports that at some point in their lives, one out of every two transgender people are sexually abused or assaulted.
These resources and groups focus on helping protect the transgender population from violence.
- The Anti-Violence Project offers a free 24-hour bilingual crisis intervention hotline. Call or text 1-212-714-1141 to report violence anonymously, connect to counseling, or get safety guidance and legal help. You can also report violence online here.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available at 1-800-799-7233 or by chat here. Their advocates can also provide LGBTQ resources and help create a safety plan.
- The RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673. They also provide an online hotline. Their website offers support for LGBTQ survivors of Sexual Violence.
- FORGE provides resources for transgender victims of crime and violence, and a guide for partners and friends of transgender sexual violence survivors.
Discrimination and loss of rights
2021 was also a record-breaking year for anti-transgender legislation. These bills restrict access to bathrooms, locker rooms and participation in sports. Some prohibit gender-affirming health care and others try to force educators to refer to transgender students by their “biological sex” and restricting LGBTQ teaching materials. Politicians pushing many of these bills have villainized the transgender population in their culture war, marginalizing them even further.
These organizations provide resources and support to help transgender people respond when their rights are infringed.
- The Transgender Law Center Help Desk lists helpful resources by issue area and has an online submission form for specific questions.
- The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s Trans Health Project helps transgender and non-binary people understand the trans-related health care available, and the steps to get the care they need.
- Transathlete compiles athletic policies on trans inclusion by location and sport division for athletes, coaches and administrators.
These are just some of the challenges facing members of the transgender community. Learning more about their lives is a first step to being there for them. The GLAAD report “Understanding issues facing Transgender Americans” provides a look at the obstacles they face.