But now is not the time for panic, isolation, or doubling down on business as usual. It is a time for us to remember how transgender people have long survived and resisted in moments of crisis: through community.
It is with this knowledge that Transgender Law Center has formed the first steps in our plan of resistance for 2017. It is a plan that relies on and centers you – that builds on our existing movement-building strategies and radically restructures how we provide legal information and resources in order to harness community power so that we can respond to the crises that lie ahead.
- We are expanding our movement-building programming to train up a legion of trans and gender nonconforming leaders across the country who are ready to mobilize. We have already held three trainings through our National Training Institute, preparing a cohort of 60 leaders from the South, Midwest, and Southwest to organize against the attacks we know are coming in their states. We will provide ongoing training and support to this cohort over the next year.
- We are launching a legislative tracker, so that you can follow the events happening in your state and find the resources you need to fight back. Through videos, resources, our TLC@SONG partnership, and technical assistance to local activists, we will do everything we can to ensure that the tools and expertise we’ve developed in this work are made available to the people who will be most impacted by the dangerous legislation being proposed.
- We are changing the way we respond to the legal needs of people who reach out to us. We experienced a 45% increase in requests for legal information or assistance following the election of Donald Trump. But with that increase in requests also came an outpouring of generous offers to help – from attorneys looking to provide pro bono support to community members who saw this moment as a call to action. To increase the number of people we can reach, we are shifting our model to focus on mobilizing volunteer and better connecting folks to existing and emerging resources. This includes a revamp of our Cooperating Attorney Network, an expansion of our Helpline Volunteer program, and the launch of our new Trans Legal Clinic Calendar, a state-by-state resource that we will update weekly. We plan to collaborate with community groups and cooperating attorneys across the country to bring legal clinics and legal education on an ongoing basis.
- Knowing that the new administration will introduce measures to criminalize and deport our communities on an unprecedented scale, we are expanding the legal support we provide to individual trans immigrants. Through our new Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE), we will recruit, train, and match pro bono immigration attorneys across the country to create a powerful army ready to defend transgender people facing deportation. We also plan to work closely with grassroots groups, including SONG, on strategies and community-based efforts to combat police abuse.
- For two years, Transgender Law Center and GSA Network’s youth-led TRUTH program has supported transgender youth and families in sharing their stories, finding community, and shifting the narrative around what it means to be young and trans. In the coming year – as a Supreme Court decision in the case of transgender student Gavin Grimm approaches – we will continue this program under the leadership of our national and regional youth councils to mobilize trans youth to protect one another in a hostile climate and speak out against attacks.
- Less than two weeks into 2017, we have already lost at least three transgender people to violence. We are joining efforts led by other organizations to monitor and respond to this violence.
- Through a new partnership with NMAC, the US People Living with HIV Caucus, Positive Women’s Network – USA, and THRIVE SS, we are expanding the work of our Positively Trans program to build the leadership of people of color living with HIV, as well as continuing our research and digital storytelling workshops through Positively Trans.
These are just a few examples of how we are preparing to meet the challenges of 2017. We cannot predict all that will happen, and flexibility and the agility to respond quickly to emergencies will be essential. Over the coming weeks and months, we will roll out more details and calls to action. We are already hiring for some new positions to support this work, including a new staff attorney and immigration pro bono coordinator, so please check out our job announcement page if you are interested in joining our team. We will also continue to rely on your support to raise the resources necessary to respond to this ever-growing need. But we already know that the answer to every crisis will lie within us – not as individual leaders, not as an organization, but as a community.
Our 2017 plan of resistance is to rely on the resources, wisdom, and passion of our community – so that you, in turn, can continue to rely on us.