After the leaking of a Trump administration memo arguing that transgender people don’t exist as a distinct class of people because people can only be biologically male or female, calls to a transgender suicide hotline have multiplied by four.
Trans Lifeline, the only suicide hotline for trans people operated by trans people, received four times the average number of calls in the days following the memo's leak; the day the news broke, the hotline received two times the regular volume of first-time callers contemplating suicide.
"At Trans Lifeline we are able to see in real time that policy debates don’t take place in a vacuum — they have direct and immediate impacts on real lives," Trans Lifeline executive director Sam Ames told Teen Vogue. "Since the [Health and Human Services] memo was leaked, the number of calls to our crisis hotline has more than quadrupled, doubling the number of new callers who have never needed to access our services before. This is bad news, but it isn’t new news."
Massachusetts, where residents will be voting on whether or not to repeal protections for transgender people in public spaces in the upcoming elections, has been a hot spot for calls.
"Playing politics with civil rights of a vulnerable population has consequences. But moments like this are exactly why Trans Lifeline exists," Ames explained. "Our hotline intervenes at the moment of crisis, and our Microgrants program helps pay for the documents that allow trans people to safely access public spaces."
Ames asserted that it is on people who are not transgender to support those who may be suffering to the point of suicidal thoughts.
"To our cisgender friends — we need you to make sure those who may be hurting today know they’re not alone, speak up with your cisgender friends about the issues affecting our lives, and donate to the trans-led organizations working around the clock right now to support our community," Ames concluded. "To our trans, gender-nonconforming, and intersex family — this is one battle in a much longer war, and we won’t let you fight it alone. We’re here for you, and we’re not going anywhere."