This crowdsourced guide to protecting yourself in Trump's America could save your life

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I n this brave new world where Donald Trump is president of the United States and the other two branches of government are controlled by Republicans, there is legitimate cause for women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and other historically marginalized groups to be very worried about their futures.

While we don't know exactly what President-elect Trump will do in office, Trump 's campaign rhetoric promised to, among other things, dismantle Obamacare,  deport millions of immigrants, target Muslims and install of a new Supreme Court justice who would carry on Antonin Scalia's conservative legacy and possibly help overturn Roe v. Wade.

The hopes that undocumented families people had for comprehensive immigration reform and the dreams that transgender youth had of being safe in school were put in jeopardy the moment Trump won.


For some, that moment was the green light to start panicking. For Brooklyn-based performance artist Ariel Federow and hundreds of other politically minded people, though, that moment was the impetus to begin pooling their ideas to put together a comprehensive plan of action. If Trump was going to be the new president, the group decided, then it was incumbent upon them to be ready for what was almost certain to come next. So they created the Oh Shit! What Should I Do Before January?” Guide.

The guide is exactly what it sounds like: an open collection of resources available to people that they can make use of before Trump's inauguration.

"This is an attempt to start to bring together a lot of information regarding common concerns as we try to figure out [what the fuck] will actually happen and/or change in this new old world," the guide reads. "The basic idea is this: you have to cover your ass with regards to the federal government."


When I spoke to Federow this afternoon, she explained that the idea to start the Guide came to her after the implications of Trump's presidency began to weigh heavily on her mind. She said that putting down an early version of her own action plan was a form of emotional and mental catharsis.

"A big part of protesting is getting our shit together and making sure we're protected as a people," Federow told me. "I started making a checklist of things I was concerned about, put it out there, and it hit a nerve. It speaks to a lot of the worries that people have."


Federow was careful to explain to me that while this particular project began as an idea she had, the guide as it exists now is the product of hundreds of collaborators flocking to a single Google Document. Currently, the guide lives as an open Google Doc that literally anybody can contribute to with the hopes that people from a broad variety of backgrounds bring something valuable to the table.


Topics range from guides to getting one's taxes in order to finding access to birth control and everything in between. The key, Federow told me, was that everyone contributing to the guide was speaking to very real fears that people have about what the government under Trump might be like.

While the vast majority of the responses to the guide have been overwhelmingly positive, there have been a number of trolls attempting to derail the work that the contributors are doing. At various points during the guide's ongoing editing, people have gone through sections that they don't agree with and gone out of their way to replace links that once pointed towards more resources and information to ones that go to offensive images. In Federow's view, these people are little more than garden variety trolls doing what trolls do.


"It’s because the internet is full of nasty bored people who can’t let anyone else take care of themselves," Federow said. "You know, 'Cool story, bro.'"

When I asked Federow what advice she could give to anyone who found themselves at a loss as to how to begin to unpack their post-election futures, she suggested that people take a honest look at the number of services that they use that are tied to the federal government. On a more personal level, though, she added that in times like these, it's important to seek comfort in community.


"I would say that they should find the people around them who are similarly concerned to build strength and wisdom and safety together," Federow said. "Remember: We’re in a long fight, this is not the only time that it's going to feel terrible, but you have to remember that we have a lot of power. You’re not alone."

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