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Transgender Community Worried About Rights Amidst New Administration

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In light of a Donald Trump/Mike Pence administration, some communities are worried their safety is on the line. 

In fact, officials from Gender Justice Nevada said they have seen as much as a ten-fold uptick in calls from transgender individuals concerned that they will not be able to legally obtain document changes. 

Gender Justice Nevada, a transgender advocacy group, has been working with Nevada Legal Services since 2014 to provide free legal representation to transgender individuals who want to legally change their name and the gender on their birth certificate. 

"It's been a dramatic increase in persons seeking document changes," said Jane Heenan, executive director of Gender Justice Nevada.  "Even on election night, people were already experiencing a great deal of fear and anxiety."

"The notion that Donald Trump, who had in various ways represented himself as antagonistic toward diverse communities would be president ... was in many ways too much for persons to bare." 

Heenan explained that the name change process is more highly regulated in Nevada because of concerns over gaming and people trying to escape debt. 

Anxiety about future setbacks for transgender rights has been reflected in transgender communities across the nation. In fact, national trans advocates started a social media movement using the hashtag #translawhelp, for organizations offering free legal help. 

In addition to providing a public acknowledgement of a transgender individuals identity, Heenan explained that there are practical reasons for these changes to occur as well. 

"There can be a significant threat if my identity on these documents isn't matching how I'm appearing in the world," Heenan said. "It's also in different ways important for law enforcement, TSA, banks and others for these things to match. 

"When there's a mismatch, there can be confusion, there can be trouble." 

Since its inception in 2014, the program with Nevada Legal Services has helped almost 150 trans individuals obtain legal name or gender marker changes in Nevada. 

Jane Heenan, executive and clinical director, Gender Justice Nevada 

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.