The sweeping anti-trans laws being introduced and passed throughout the country, primarily targeting transgender youth, are no secret to anyone in the United States. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of all of these blatant attacks on human rights, but the last thing we should do is sit back and feel helpless. There are many things, big and small, that you can do to help.
As a largely Democratic state in a Democratic area of the country, those of us in Maine hold a certain amount of privilege in that many anti-trans bills have not stood a chance against the Maine legislature. Many of the anti-trans bills being passed are in states like Tennessee and Florida — states far enough away that sometimes it might not feel real to us.
We cannot ignore the laws being passed across the country, even if they don’t seem like they affect us directly. If these bills are passed in other states without contention, it sets a dangerous precedent, and before long even the bluest states could be affected. On March 2, 2023, Republican Representative Jeffrey Adams sponsored LD 930, a bill that would act to allow “only students of female gender to participate in womens’ and girls’ scholastic sports.” It’s highly unlikely it will pass, but just the fact that it exists when transgender rights in Maine have been and continue to be so tirelessly fought for is disappointing.
Despite how it may sound, the most important thing is to stay hopeful. Getting involved at the state level can be a bit intimidating, but there is a lot you can do that doesn’t involve going to the Maine State House and lobbying yourself.
There are things you can do as a student at the University of Maine to make our immediate community more welcoming for transgender and LGBTQ+ students. Even as an ally, you can get involved with Wilde Stein, UMaine’s queer–straight alliance, and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), who puts on events and offers resources on campus.
“Having allies around as well as just community is really important,” said a representative from the Rainbow Resource Center, a branch of ODI that focuses on supporting the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
The Rainbow Resource Center offers a safe space for LGBTQ+ students to spend time with friends and community members. It also provides physical resources such as books and pamphlets, as well as referrals to outside services. They put on events of their own; some are open for allies and LGBTQ+ community members, and some are closed, such as Trans and Nonbinary Game Night.
On a state level, MaineTransNet, according to their website, is “the sole organization in Maine specifically dedicated to supporting transgender people.” Along with offering training on being a better ally and helping transgender people within healthcare as well as information such as how to legally change your name, the MaineTransNet works directly with the Maine Legislature to advocate for issues that directly impact transgender Mainers. This includes laws and regulations about legal documentation and name changes, insurance coverage for gender affirming care and various nondiscrimination practices.
MaineTransNet also advocates for issues that will impact a broader scope of oppressed people, including mental health reform, prison abolition, racial justice and indigenous sovereignty.
You can volunteer for MaineTransNet or you can simply donate online: a small, easy action, but one that makes a huge difference.
If you want to go further and get involved on a national level, you can look into organizations like MaineTransNet in states that have harmful anti-trans laws being proposed. The Trevor Project does the same kind of work all over the United States. On the Trans Formations Project website, you can see the anti-trans bills being proposed in each state, as well as important information about them. Additionally, GLAAD’s website has a list of nationwide legal and advocacy resources for all kinds of gender–diverse people.
One of the most important things you can do, as a member of society is to stay up-to-date with current events and the laws being proposed where you live. Jeffrey Adams, the Republican Representative who proposed LD930, also recently proposed LD618, an act to “eliminate critical race theory, social and emotional learning and diversity, equity and inclusion from state curricula.” There’s not always news stories and instagram posts made about every piece of legislation, so it is on you to know what the government is doing with your rights.
Caring about one aspect of human rights means caring about all of them. It’s a difficult undertaking, but it is vital. Helping out can be something as big as lobbying and protesting in–person, and it can be as small as making a $5 donation or giving words of support to your trans friends.