Rebel Well: for those who are LGBQ and/or trans

This piece is part of Rebel Well: a Starter Survival Guide to a Trumped America for Teens and Emerging Adults.


Social policies and attitudes hostile to LGBQT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning or trans) Americans are likely to increase, including rollbacks on previous civil rights gains, brand-new hurtful policies, harassment and discrimination. That can be dangerous and scary, but you should know that most of these changes cannot happen overnight. And depending on where you live, your state may protect you: For example, “conversion therapy” may be popular in the conservative camp, but many states explicitly identify it as torture and have banned it.

If you currently live in a home where things like conversion therapy or boot camps have already been threatened: They may be more likely if and when those things are further legitimized by our national government. If this is your reality, have an exit plan. Much like someone living in other kinds of abuse may do, keep all the most important things for your life in one easy to access bag or within easy reach, including all your identification. Figure out — and verify — a safe place or two you could go to and be allowed into without having to make arrangements first.

Find your safe people, those who will be there for you if you need a place to stay, need help accessing medical care, or need someone to back you up in a dispute with school administration. Cultivate strong networks and ties now so that they’re ready for you when you need them. Check the resources at the end of this guide for more help, especially if you need legal help or advice.


As with the LGBQ community, transgender and other gender-nonconforming people are likely to face more oppression in coming years, including legislation like bathroom bills, harassment, and discrimination.

If you plan to transition and haven’t yet: You are facing a difficult and pretty terrible choice: Stay closeted for the next 4-8 years, or opt to move forward. If you are in a relatively liberal area, pursuing transition and keeping the option of going stealth if you move may be a good choice. If you are in a conservative region with limited access to options, you may want to think carefully about your next move — but you may also be surprised by the amount of support available if you decide to continue pursuing medical transition, or take smaller, more accessible steps with social transition (like using and asking for your wanted name and pronouns name, wearing a binder or otherwise dressing in the way that fits your gender identity). If you’re nervous and want to take a pause, it doesn’t have to be permanent; when you feel comfortable, seek out providers and talk about your options, stressing the need for confidentiality. If you want to keep moving forward, discuss your concerns for the future with your care providers. Conduct an honest threat assessment about your physical safety, employment prospects, access to education, and relationship with your family.

If you have transitioned or are in the process of doing so: Update your documents IMMEDIATELY if you have not already done so, with the help of your parents if you are a minor. Currently, updating your passport and Social Security record requires just a doctor’s note and your court-ordered name change. This could change depending on who heads these agencies in the future, so do it now. Likewise, update your state ID if it’s easy to do.

Groups like Lambda Legal and the ACLU are working very hard to protect state-by-state civil rights gains including protections in schools. Many are based on federal and state laws and cannot be easily repealed or reversed. You should also stock up on hormones and supplies over the course of 2017 in case you lose health insurance or your insurer stops covering them. For loads more on the variety of transition options available to you, and how to get support, check out Scarleteen’s Trans Summer School.

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