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Will Trump Lead Trans Youth to Self-Harm? Not on Our Watch

at risk youth

Show your support for trans children, who are now under attack by the president and attorney general.

I don't know what it's like to grow up transgender in a world that is actively hostile not only to your right to exist but even to live.

I do know what it was like to grow up knowing that you're different and not possessing the vocabulary to articulate it, to believe there's something wrong with you, to fear knowing your true self.

That's what was I was told by our media, our society, and our schools when I was young.

Wentworth Miller calls this living in "survival mode."

In a speech to the Human Rights Campaign in 2013, Miller said, "I wasn't born in this country. I didn't grow up in any one particular religion. I have a mixed-race background, and I'm gay. Really, it's just your typical all-American boy next door. It has been natural to see myself as an individual. It's been a challenge to see that self as part of something larger. Like many of you here tonight, I grew up in what I would call survival mode."

"When you're in survival mode, your focus is on getting through the day in one piece, and when you're in that mode at 5, at 10, at 15, there isn't a lot of space for words like 'community,' for words like 'us' and 'we.' There's only space for 'I' and 'me. In fact, words like 'us' and 'we' not only sounded foreign to me at 5 and 10 and 15, they sounded like a lie. Because if 'us' and 'we' really existed, if there was really someone out there watching and listening and caring, then I would have been rescued by now."

"The first time that I tried to kill myself, I was 15," Miller continued. "I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house, and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don't remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I'm pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school, pretending everything was fine. And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one. You only cry for help if you believe there's help to cry for. And I didn't. I wanted out. I wanted gone. At 15."

Recently, for the first time since they've measured these things, the suicide rate for LGB youth declined for the first time in years. "Researchers found that suicide attempts by high school students decreased by 7 percent in states after they passed laws to legalize same-sex marriage, before the Supreme Court legalized it nationwide in 2015," the Public Broadcasting Service reported. "Among LGB high school students, the decrease was especially concentrated, with suicide attempts falling by 14 percent. But in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage, there was no change."

Miller's words haunt me. "At 5, at 10, at 15" -- staggering. Imagine the message a young transgender person is hearing with the 45th president's executive order issued last night.

Today is colloquially know as "Throwback Thursday" on most social media.

This is me at 10.

I was not unlike Miller. If you're so inclined, in a show of support for trans kids everywhere, copy and paste this statement along with a photo of yourself at 5, 10, or 15 to show your solidarity.

Everyone is someone's child.

As Miller so eloquently concluded, "Let [us] be to someone else what no one was to me. Let me send a message to that kid, maybe in America, maybe someplace far overseas, maybe somewhere deep inside, a kid who's being targeted at home or at school or in the streets, that someone is watching and listening and caring. That there is an 'us,' that there is a 'we,' and that kid or teenager or adult is loved, and they are not alone."

SAVAS ABADSIDIS is the managing editor of The Advocate.

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Savas Abadsidis