"What if I sent a letter?" Ina Fried's cousin asked her several months ago. Fried's cousin wondered how she could show her support for trans youth. The question stayed with Fried and has now blossomed into a social media campaign looking to provide comfort to trans youth.
Fried, chief technology correspondent for news site Axios, knew she had to do something as she continued to see state after state pass anti-trans laws directed at trans youth.
In the past several weeks, states have begun following Florida and have drafted "don't say gay" bills, which seek to ban the discussion of gender identity in the classroom, while Alabama passed a law making gender-affirming care a felony. Additionally, the governor of Texas has attempted to investigate supportive parents of trans kids for "child abuse" for allowing their child access to such care.
"As a journalist, it's not my place to wade into the politics, but as a trans woman who has been fortunate enough to experience what it is like to have a supportive family and community and to benefit from opportunity and privilege, I also couldn't sit by and see kids' lives made even harder," Fried said in an email to The Advocate.
Fried eventually came up with the idea for #letters4transkids. The concept is simple: People are asked to write, record, post, or film an inspirational message in support of trans kids and post it with the hashtag on social media so the message can be found and shared. There's also an email -- lettersfortranskids[at]gmail.com -- that people can send messages to. Fried said she'd post those who decide to email the message. Fried is hoping those who need to see it she explained on Twitter and Facebook.
"This isn't about wanting kids to be trans or nonbinary, or not," Fried said. "All I want for any kid is for them to have the space and support to be their fullest self, whoever that is."
And if trans youth can't feel that physically where they are, Fried said she hopes they can feel supported at least online.
The responses have been overwhelming so far. Those who have already posted messages include actor Javier Munoz, hockey player Kurtis Gabriel, and the FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
She added: "One of my favorites came from a 75-year-old heterosexual woman who acknowledged she didn't really have a sense of what it must be like to be a trans kid, but said, 'I wish you well and wish I could spare you unkindness and lack of understanding by others like me!'"
Fried said it reminded her of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox's veto letter he sent to lawmakers after vetoing the state's anti-trans bill, citing the high suicide rate for trans teens. "He basically said, look, I don't totally get this, but I don't have to fully understand what it means to be trans to avoid making life harder for you," she explained.
While there have been responses all across the U.S., there's already been some international responses, including one from Germany.
At the end of all of this, Fried said, "I hope it buoys families who are trying to support their trans kid, I hope it helps trans kids see that there are lots of people out there who wish them well on their journey."
Here are just a sample of the messages posted so far with #letter4transkids.