While it’s tempting to hide under the covers for the next four year, now is no time to wallow in pity: The Trump administration is poised to threaten the rights of women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBT community like never before.
With that in mind, here are seven things you can do to preserve your rights and help protect the America we love.
Get to know your representatives.Getty Images
Why: Now more than ever, Congress needs to hear from us—a LOT. Sure, it’s important to contact them when you’re upset, but also if you support what they’re doing. When it comes to LGBT equality, career politicians know that, ultimately, they have to answer to their constituents. That means they need to hear from us more than they hear from our opponents.
How: Follow @GovTrack on Twitter to stay up to date on what Congress is up to. Put contact info for your senator and representatives in your phone, and call them to voice your opinions on Trump and his staff—or any time important bills are introduced or voted on.
If they do something awesome (like demand an investigation into Trump’s finances), call and tell them you support their efforts. (Congressional insiders say supportive phone calls are rare and very effective.) Make sure their office knows you by name.
Protest Trump’s cabinet picks and conflicts of interest.
Why: That SNL sketch where Donald Trump appointed Walter White as head of the DEA hit the nail on the head. So far, Trump has appointed a climate-change denier as head of the EPA, an outspoken foe of a womans right to choose as Health Secretary, and a CEO who opposes a minimum wage as Secretary of Labor. If that wasn’t bad enough, a majority of of his cabinet picks vehemently oppose LGBT equality.
And Trump stands to profit financially from his presidency in a big way: He’s still refusing to put his business assets into a blind trust, giving him plenty of incentive to make choices based on what’s good for his bank account, rather than what’s good for America.
It’s a recipe for disaster that can’t go unchallenged.
How: Contact your representatives and senators and ask them to block Trump’s cabinet picks. While you’re at it, urge them to support Resolution 56, which would urge Trump to eliminate flagrant conflicts of interest.
Call or email the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and urge them to support a bipartisan review of Trump’s business interests and potential conflicts.
Support legitimate news sources and avoid “fake” news sites.Getty Images
Why: There’s no denying fake news played a major role in the election. Uncritical audiences swallowed exaggerated and outright fabricated stories that reinforced negative stereotypes and disproven narratives. (We’re pretty sure Hillary Clinton never ran an underground pedophile ring.)
And President-elect Trump remains hostile to legitimate journalists who dare to criticize him. He’s even threatened to stifle freedom of the press with new libel laws.
We need investigative journalists who aren’t afraid to tell the truth—and those journalists need our support.
Avoid reposting stories that seem sensational or dubious, even if they support your point of view. Do your own fact-checking before sharing information. And (respectfully) point out when friends share stories that are inaccurate.
Donate to organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists. (Tell ’em Meryl Streep sent you.)
Help flip critical legislative seats.Getty Images
Why: As anxious as we are about Trump, the most critical decisions on issues like immigration, LGBT equality, reproductive rights and fair policing are made in Congress and statehouses nationwide.
States also play a major role in voting rights and voter suppression, which can have a huge impact in a close election.
How: Sign up for action-alerts from Flippable, which focuses on turning critical seats from red to blue. And support candidates that back your positions by donating your time and money.
Support the organizations working to protect us.Vivien Killilea/Wireimage
Why: Trump and his cabinet could undermine work done on climate change, women’s rights, free speech, separation of church and state and immigration reform. Thankfully, there are amazing organizations devoted to defending liberty and equality, and combating racism, homophobia and sexism. It’s never been more important to give them our support.
How: Donate time or money to organizations like the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), HRC, People’s Action, Black Lives Matter, Lambda Legal, and the Natural Resource Defense Council.
Don’t like any of those? Track down organizations that you think are doing critical work. Send them a donation and ask how you can help.
Get involved in local politics.Getty Images
Why: When Republicans have a stronghold on municipal and state offices, they’re able to pass discriminatory legislation like HB2, “religious freedom” laws and unconstitutional abortion restrictions. (They can even sneak odious amendments into otherwise innocuous-sounding bills.) After January 20, it will be even more critical for our communities to be represented in the political process.
How: Get to know your local legislators—make sure they know you’re a constituent, and that you fully expect them to defend LGBT equality at the legislative level. Say hello when you run into them at your local farmer’s market or theater. Follow them on Twitter and join their Facebook groups to stay on top of what they’re up to. Let them know when you disagree with their policies. Show up at town hall meetings and voice your opinion on critical issues to stop future bills like HB2 in their tracks. If you don’t like who’s in office, help their opponent campaign before the next election.
Or consider running for office yourself. No, not president—the religious right rose to power by getting on school boards, town council and other small bodies. It isn’t very hard, and we need LGBT mayors, governors and county executives before we’ll ever be able to elect one as president.
Why: If you don’t participate in the process you can’t complain about the results. Change happens from the bottom up—in school boards, town councils, local judgeships. Get informed about the candidates and vote in every election. Remember: An “I voted” sticker goes with everything.
How: You can register to vote online in 31 states or mail in this form. Find out where your nearest voting station is at Vote 411. On The Issues has voting records for every federal and state politician, but you’ll also need to check newspapers, blogs and other reputable sources for a full picture of the candidate’s stances.