Calling your local government officials is a great way to spread awareness of your cause and fight for actionable change, but many people may not know how to do it, or why. This article will tell you everything you need to know about advocating via phone calls, how to do it, and why advocating for the Turner Syndrome (TS) community is a great thing to do.
Why Should I Advocate by Calling My Government Representative(s)?
There are many reasons to contact your local government representatives by phone, including:
- to help you reach the government official’s legislative staff directly about your issue, instead of having to compete with other emails or being put in the spam folder;
- to humanize the issue at hand and be listened to, as opposed to walls of text that staff could easily ignore;
- to catch the attention of the official, if you (strategically) call multiple times, so they may be more inclined to take action; and
- to better control what you are saying and how you say it.
How To Call Your Government Official(s) Like a Pro
Here are some steps to help you with this important task:
- Figure out whom you want to talk to. Do you want to contact local, state, or federal government officials to discuss this issue?
- For federal officials, there are two main routes: presidential or congressional. If you go with the presidential route, you can contact the White House’s comment line at 202-456-1111 or the main switchboard at 202-456-1414. If you want to contact your legislators, you can contact your senators using this phone list or your House representatives here by entering your ZIP code.
- For a state/territory- based official, use this website. Click on your state or territory, which will lead you to the appropriate website. There you will find your government officials’ contact information.
- If you want to take the local route, use this link to find your mayor’s contact information (for cities with 30,000 people or more). You can also use this link to find your respective county’s website and representative. Click on your county, and then click on the link to find the contacts on the site. This link can be used to contact your local government representatives by choosing your state or territory, going to the linked website, and then searching for the town’s local officials.
What Should I Do Before Calling My Government Official(s)?
- Make sure you are calling during business hours. You don’t want the issue you’re advocating for to be unheard because you called at the wrong time.
- Be prepared to give information about yourself, like your name, address, and phone number.
- Plan out your message to the official(s) (or their staff). These calls are normally a maximum of about five minutes, so make sure your points are concise.
- Make sure your points are well researched. That will make your cause much more clear and important to the official(s).
- Make sure you have a mix of both scientifically supported and anecdotal points. That way, you will have statistics to uphold your points and personal anecdotes to display how your issue is relevant to your official’s constituents.
- Be smart about not just who you call or what you say, but when you call. By yourself, it’s much better to call a government official before an event related to your issue, like a vote. When planning a group of calls, it is better to call at one time.
- Before your call, make sure you practice, practice, practice. This will improve your call’s flow, increase your confidence, and make your points more concise and understandable.
- Make sure to relax a little bit before the call. You do not want your nervousness to get in the way of communicating your message.
How Should I Act During the Call?
- Be polite. Remember the saying, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
- Have confidence. You did the research and prepped for this. YOU CAN DO THIS!
- Note that you are a voter (hopefully you are!). Government officials really like to know what their constituents care about, so knowing that you are a voter yourself greatly increases the chances that they will listen.
- Have notes of your talking points near you during the call. Then you can track the points you have covered in the call.
- Make sure you have a phone with a timer app or another timer device near you. Use this to note how much time you have left in the call, to ensure that you’re balancing the amount of time spent on each point you are making.
What Are Other Ways To Advocate for My Cause?
Want to take awareness of your issue to the next level? Here are some other ways you can advocate, besides emailing and calling your government official(s):
- Attend local government meetings or events, like town halls, to speak about your cause.
- Sign and share TSF’s petition.
- Make an appointment with your government official(s) to meet at their office.
- Launch a social media campaign to raise awareness of your cause.
- Fundraise for your cause. Read this article to get some great ideas.
A Cause to Advocate for: the TS Community!
Turner Syndrome Talking Points
- Turner Syndrome is a genetic condition that affects over two million born females. Only 1-2% of fetuses with TS survive to birth.
- TS involves the complete or partial lack of one of the female sex chromosomes.
- TS was discovered in 1938 by Dr. Henry Turner.
- While TS is considered a rare disorder, it is the second most common genetic disorder, with a baby with TS being born every eight hours.
- TS can cause various health challenges, including kidney, heart, and thyroid problems; hearing loss; social anxiety, shyness, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD); and short stature.
- TS is a condition that has limited awareness, even in the medical community, so support and resources for those who live with TS are critically important.
- Lack of awareness of TS creates a delayed diagnosis and less research, which can be detrimental to those in the TS community and their ability to access the resources they need to thrive and excel.
What Is the Turner Syndrome Foundation (TSF)?
TSF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Hazlet, New Jersey and founded in 2008.
TSF helps patients with TS, their parents, and their caregivers by:
- spreading awareness,
- advocating for their unique needs,
- providing resources to help them obtain an excellent education,
- helping them live healthier lives, and
- increasing the amount of research about TS diagnosis and treatments.
Calling your government representative(s) is a great, easy way to spread awareness of TS and create actionable change in your community, your state, or your country. We hope this step-by-step guide is helpful and also inspires you to join TSF’s cause.
If you want to learn more about other ways you can spread awareness of TS, check out ways to Take Action. Download the Advocacy Packet to get a sample call script and more.
Written by Liz Rivera, TSF blog contributor. Edited by Susan Herman, TSF volunteer blog editor.