Janet Mock knows the struggles of transgender students. She’s lived them.
The author and activist recently opened up about her high school experiences as a trans student in a viral New York Times essay, calling on the Trump administration to grant trans students essential protections. Now, Mock wants you to join her in putting pressure on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Along with The Ally Coalition, a national LGBTQ equality organization, Mock has launched a new campaign called #DearBetsyDeVos. The campaign invites advocates of trans rights to send postcards to Secretary DeVos, urging her to end discrimination against trans and gender-nonconforming kids in schools.
The effort also includes an online petition, which asks DeVos to “uphold Title IX protections and give trans students the safe spaces they deserve.”
“We so often hear from the opposition, and I felt it was essential that trans youth know that there are tens of thousands of affirmative voices cheering them on,” Mock said. “It’s vital and potentially life-saving for young people to know that we have their backs, and we will not back down.”
According to The Ally Coalition, a staggering 78% of trans and gender-nonconforming students report experiencing harassment at schools.
“This helps explain why many trans students are pushed out of schools and why nearly half of trans youth have considered suicide,” the pre-written postcards read.
The campaign is Mock’s response to the Trump administration’s recent rollback of guidelines that allowed trans students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identity. In a statement about the rollback, Secretary DeVos said bathroom access for trans students was “an issue best solved at the state and local level.”
Mock hopes the #DearBetsyDeVos campaign will give allies of trans students a platform, so they can voice their disappointment and disapproval with the withdrawal of protections.
The petition has garnered nearly 41,000 signatures in the week since its launch. Though the campaign has been undeniably popular and widely championed on social media with the hashtag #DearBetsyDeVos, Mock hasn’t heard back from the Secretary of Education.
“I’d like her to respond by actually doing her job, which is to protect all students.”
“I’d like her to respond by actually doing her job, which is to protect all students,” Mock said. “I want her to know that transgender students are not asking for special treatment — they merely want equal treatment. These schools are their schools as well, and they deserve to learn and grow in schools that open their doors to them, not shut them.”
Mock wants the campaign, which runs through the end of March, to help make DeVos privy to the needs of transgender students. Ultimately, Mock hopes the campaign will encourage DeVos to put the recently repealed guidelines back in place.
“It’s incredibly brave for a young person to live their truth, and we should be supporting them as they navigate already bumpy terrain,” Mock said. “It’s utterly necessary that our leaders use their power and influence to make the road smoother, not rougher.”