Trans Lifeline, a U.S. crisis hotline for transgender Americans, has been flooded with calls amidst the Trump administration’s rollback on federal guidelines for trans students.
As NBC News reports, Trans Lifeline’s calls ballooned to 379 callers on Feb. 23, the day that the Trump administration officially recalled the Obama administration’s protections for trans students. In comparison, Trans Lifeline saw approximately 139 calls per day in January.
André Perez, Trans Lifeline’s director of marketing and communication, has noticed a direct trend between anti-trans news stories and calls to the hotline. “We see spikes when there’s a new affront to transgender rights and the idea that the transgender community can have a future in this country,” Perez told NBC News. “We see a corresponding increase in calls immediately, and then they remain elevated after that.”
According to Trans Lifeline’s Mission page, the hotline “works to end transgender suicide and improve overall mental health of transgender people through education, advocacy, and direct service.” Trans Lifeline’s FAQ site reveals the project is a “grassroots, peer-to-peer network for trans people of all ages,” in which all operators on Trans Lifeline are trans themselves. The hotline also fields calls from trans people who are not suicidal, encouraging any and all trans-identifing people to reach out if they need someone to talk to at any moment.
Transgender suicide rates are particularly high within the United States. According to a 2015 article published by Vocativ, 41 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming Americans have attempted suicide. In comparison, only 4.6 percent of U.S. citizens report a suicide attempt in their lifetimes, whereas 10 to 20 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents claim an attempt.
Currently, Trans Lifeline is seeking $200,000 in donations to meet call demands and further help the trans community. Teen Vogue reports that the hotline’s website pulled over $50,000 in donations within 36 hours of the administration’s trans guidelines recall, with donors effectively crashing the website. The campaign, which has less than a day remaining, is just under $50,000 shy of its goal.