Like so many Americans, I woke up on November 9th excited to hear that for the first time in the history of our nation, our president elect was a woman. Whether we agree or not on the character of Hillary Clinton, what we can all agree on is how differently the candidates addressed the people of our great nation.
Then I realized that the next president would not be Clinton. Donald Trump won the election.
I want to tell Trump that hate, on either side, is never acceptable — but it’s especially unacceptable to openly hate specific groups of people that belong the nation that you are now at the helm of.
Here’s the thing: Hate has always been easy, and it always will be. Walls are easy to build when fear spreads like wildfire. It’s easier to build a wall than to show compassion and understand each other.
I am asking us all to forgive the ignorance of others. Like parents to a petulant child, I ask that we are patient and kind to those who are not. What so many of us forget is that our disadvantages are what give us strength; knowing what it is like to be a minority gives us a kindness and strength that you cannot teach. Coming from a community of people that understands what it is like to fight desperately for things that so many other people take for granted gives us a solidarity that no one can ever take from us.
Before we all decide to move to Canada — and trust me I get it, because I now live in a nation where my rights as a woman, as a member of the LGBT community and the partner of a trans man (I’m looking at you, states with bathroom bills) will be questioned and denied by the leader of our nation — let’s take a minute to consider how far we’ve come and how much we still have to do.
This moment is a crucial one for our nation. We can move forward and show our friends who are Black, Latino/a/x, women, lgbtq+, immigrant, Muslim, disabled, and anyone else attacked by Trump or Pence during the duration of this election, who we are. We are not them. We do not give in to their fear-mongering politics.
Although there are a lot of people like Trump out there, there have always been, and there always will be, and still we have accomplished so much as a nation. America may not have been great to anyone other than white, cisgender men, but I know it can be. Let’s not get defeatist, let’s move forward together, let’s continue to fight for the rights we have been fighting for.
I’m afraid, as I know a lot of us are. When my partner goes to North Carolina for a business trip, where he could be arrested for using the bathroom, I will be even more afraid. But we cannot let fear stop us. Let’s not let this fear create more hate.
I understand that I come from a place of privilege. I am a woman and a member of the LGBT community, but the person who’s hand I hold in public “passes,” and to the rest of the world, we look like your average, millennial-hipster-cliché-couple, which most people find annoying but not annoying enough to attack (at least so far). We are both white, able-bodied, college-educated, US citizens.
I am worried about Mason, as brave and unworried as he is. I am worried that the person who will soon sit in the White House will turn back the progress that he and all of our allies have made. I am worried his T shots will become too expensive, or more difficult to get. I am worried that he will face violence when he travels to other parts of the country. I am worried that when we eventually have enough money for top surgery, there will be even more restrictions than there are now, making it more difficult for him to feel more like himself.
Even more so, I am worried for the entire trans community, because the violence that trans women, especially trans women of color, have faced in the past years is unacceptable. I fear that having a vocally transphobic president will make killing trans folk acceptable. I fear for trans women who don’t have access to support or who live in transphobic communities, who are fearful of having their hormone therapy revoked if Obamacare is.
I am afraid that mental health counseling that so many trans people (and cis people) rely on can be taken away. In the past few years, trans visibility has increased, and as acceptance increases, there is always push-back from other groups. I hope that this fear does not push anyone back in the closet, I hope this makes all of us prouder of who we are; I hope this makes us louder. I hope adversity makes us stronger. No one can take away the progress we have made within ourselves.
My partner’s bravery and honestly constantly impress me. He answers every question someone asks him, regardless of how rude or invasive they may be. He sees every question as his personal responsibility to the trans community, to spread visibility and awareness, and he does so with extreme kindness and vulnerability that can only be interpreted as a deep understanding of where people’s ignorance comes from.
It is easy to meet ignorance with animosity but, if instead we meet ignorance with kindness and education, we can change the way people see us, and by doing so, the world. Each of us is where we are today because there have been generations before us that have fought for the rights that we have. Do not forget Stonewall, do not forget Harvey Milk, do not forget Obergefell v. Hodges; let the language of resistance bond you, reclaim the system that has been built to work against you, live the truths that have been granted to you, fight to continue. This is growth.
There are so many other lives that will be so substantially affected by having a very racist man as our president. We must fight for our friends who fear being deported, segregated, voided, bullied, sexually assaulted, or fired. We must continue to fight for Black lives, for the Hispanic and Latina communities who we have let down, for survivors of sexual assault (and those who fear it) who now see a rapist and misogynist as our commander-in-chief. We have to continue to fight for the rights we have been fighting for, and the fight will get harder but I know we are the generation to do it.
Remember that focusing on your story is not “dwelling on negativity.” The younger generations, the millennials, that protest, that speak out, that voice their rage — they are not whiney, this is our American right. Freedom of speech goes both ways, and if our president elect can stand at his podium and voice his opinion, we can take to the streets and do the same. Voice your opinion, be proud of who you are, never let anyone silence you.
I will forever remember the relief I felt the day marriage equality was passed. Relief not just because I could get married, but because my country had validated me, my rights, and my future family. November 9th may have felt like a huge step back for so many of us, but I will not allow this to silence me, or to immobilize me, I will continue to fight, I will be loud for those who cannot be. For those who live in unsafe spaces who must stay silent, know that I will be here, afraid and fighting.