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When a Lifeline is Truly Confidential

TW: transphobia, suicide, abuse

In Florida, school faculty may soon be required to out students to their parents. In Texas, child welfare agencies have been ordered by the governor to investigate gender-affirming surgeries for youth as child abuse.

As the legal requirements for trusted adults to "report" further restrict young people's (and everyone’s) ability to be open and authentic, more and more people are looking for pockets of safety wherever they can find them.

And yet, these concerns have always been around. Many people who come into my office are already used to having to tip-toe around discussing their suicidal thoughts or prior abuse from adults. People are justifiably worried about what consequences will come of saying the "wrong" thing. As this same system of mandated reporting is being expanded, who can people most marginalized turn to?

I’ve been thinking:

  • What effect does mandated reporting have on safety, honesty, and trust?

  • How does mandated reporting relate to the ethics code that is grounded in principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, justice, and beneficence?

  • What could support and care look like outside of legal mandates to report?

  • Who has already developed community responses to crisis? What do they look like?


Trans Lifeline has been a pocket of safety for trans folks since its launch in 2014. As a hotline and non-profit organization led by and for trans people, folks are welcome to call 24/7 (though guaranteed operators are only available at certain times) and access peer support and relevant resources with full confidentiality.

Unlike mandated reporters (counselors, teachers, etc.), Trans Lifeline does not engage in non-consensual active rescue. This means that people can call the hotline without fear of police showing up on their doorstep or involuntary hospitalizations. Completely divested from the police since its founding, over 100,000 calls have been made to the hotline without unwanted intervention from law enforcement instead of support.

Moreover, Trans Lifeline is fully committed to principles of harm reduction, peer support, abolition, self-determination, financial redistribution, and the dismantling white supremacy. This dedication shows in their vision and, more importantly, in practice. They center incarcerated trans folks, allocate microgrants for ID marker changes, provide non-judgemental support for folks who use drugs or self-harm, and don't require proof of how distributed funds were spent. Trans Lifeline is one of the few resources that I can confidently share with those most disproportionally at risk for police violence and incarceration. I hope it can be of use to everyone else.

Where to Start:

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