Trans Lifeline is a grassroots hotline and microgrants 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis – for the trans community, by the trans community.
Our hotline is run by trans people, for trans people. We believe that trans people are equipped to support one another, and that each trans person knows best what support looks like for them. We use active listening, community knowledge, shared lived experience and trust to be there for our peers.
Trans people experience disproportionate violence and mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement and emergency responders. We have been divested from the police since our founding. We use an abolitionist framework that preempts crises by connecting trans people with each other, because the most powerful tool we have for safety is each other.
We believe in reducing harm and not creating barriers to supporting our peers through their survival. We each have different coping mechanisms, and we do not blame or judge our trans peers for substance use, underground economy work, or self-injury. We are prepared to talk to you about how to use your coping mechanisms of choice more safely, if you like, and will never tell you to stop something that works for you.
Our hotline is fully anonymous and confidential, which means that callers’ identities are fully anonymous, and nothing said will ever be shared without a caller’s request. All conversations are guided by the caller, so callers choose what to disclose and what conversation topics can be. Callers and operators do not have access to each other’s contact information.
Many people in our community exist in a constant state of survival within a system that benefits from our marginalization. In an unjust system, crisis and distress are normal and rational. Trans people develop our own unique resilience and power by building community together, and we support each other by recognizing this without judgment.
Our support work is guided by what our community members ask for. We never bring in outside resources or engage a caller in any activity without their fully informed and consensual request. If a caller is interested in an outside resource, including emergency services, we will do our best to explain everything we know they might expect when using that resource.
Assuming that all trans people have the same level of access to economic and emotional support ignores structural barriers created by white supremacy, colonization, and ableism. Dismantling white supremacy at a structural level means centering the people in our communities who face the most barriers to economic justice – especially our incarcerated trans siblings.
Economic justice is a core component of racial justice and trans people’s overall wellbeing. The creation of low-barrier funds for trans people to change their IDs is based on the premise that it is inherently economically unjust for trans communities to pay fees for necessary documents that cis people do not. We draw inspiration from the principles of mutual aid as we take responsibility for caring for one another and changing our conditions under the crisis of capitalism.
A framework based on equality that assumes everyone benefits from the same level of support. Equity-based processes address the failures of disparate levels of privilege and access caused by colonialism, white supremacy, ableism, and transmisogyny by prioritizing the needs of those who have been the intended targets of these systems.
We trust trans people. We believe you when you tell us who you are, and what you need. We believe in our communities’ right to self identify, have autonomy over our choices, and be in the drivers’ seat of your own future. We’ll be right here alongside you throughout your journey. We don’t ask grantees to prove that funds were spent as they were intended because we refuse to perpetuate the assumption that trans people are not trustworthy, and our hotline is fully confidential, anonymous, and uses informed consent.