I often try to avoid the political. I avoid it with my family. I avoid it on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve avoided it with this blog. I quietly unfriend and unfollow people who post blatant political posts that I vehemently disagree with. If you were pro-Trump at any point in time that I saw on my social media feeds, then I likely removed you months ago, because we simply can’t be friends on those feeds. This applies to family, friends, and acquaintances alike. It’s nothing personal, or, well I suppose I should say that it wasn’t personal until recently.
That isn’t to say that now that I am out as transgender that it is now personal, despite how true that might be. Instead it is because politics have turned into a black and white, us vs them, good vs evil dichotomy. Politics are no longer one opinion vs another equally valid opinion. There is undeniably a right and a wrong, and no one can convince me otherwise.
The idea of right and wrong in politics saddens me, in a way. The two party system, in theory, is supposed to come together and compromise to work out what is best for the country and its citizens. This naive view of politics fueled most of my understanding of the world for a long time. Unfortunately those ideals have been eroding. I’d like to lay a lot of the blame on Citizens United, but I know there’s far more to it than that and has been a process for as long as I’ve been alive, if not longer.
You could say that my real entry into politics began with the historic 2008 election. I religiously followed the primaries of Clinton and Obama, but was a devout backer of Obama. I didn’t take the Republican side of the election seriously at all, and refused to believe that anyone could beat either the first woman president or the first black president. I watched the Republican party flail around while gleefully taking in all the drama. This held true in 2012, as well as leading up to the 2016 election. I refused to believe that a party so morally bankrupt could possibly win the election.
I eagerly I turned on Comedy Central’s election night coverage to watch the drama unfold as the Republican Party and the national disgrace that Trump had made of it fall apart. At least until the results started coming in. The more and more obvious it became that the election was far from the guaranteed Democratic victory that I was expecting, the more depressed I became. By the time Trump was declared the victor I had stopped watching entirely.
I used to religiously watch The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight, but as the following few months progressed it became less and less entertaining, and more and more depressing. It got to the point I couldn’t take much entertainment from the real life suffering created by a corrupt and mad with power Republican Party. It’s been months since I watched either of them, and I’ve even ignored the highlights on YouTube.
I got into a fight with my dad once since coming out as transgender, and politics were the cause. My brother bought me the game Secret Hitler, and wanted to play it, and my whole family got involved. My dad, unfortunately, seemed to take offense to the idea of being a liberal, as well as to the idea that the only other option was a fascist. We played the game once, and the fascists won. My dad was one of the fascists. He proceeded to gloat about winning, which is fine, but then took things a step further and gloated about voting for Governor Rauner and President Trump.
I knew that he had voted for Rauner. There was never really a doubt in my mind, and that was never really a secret in my household. Rauner might be a piece of shit, but he’s not comically evil and incompetent in the way that Trump is. Rauner poses a threat to the state of Illinois because of his stance on unions and state jobs, but he never posed a threat to me directly beyond to my family’s checkbooks.
The status of Trump voters within my family, however, had until that moment remained a mystery. I have never been quiet about my disdain for the Republican party, and particularly for Trump, but the subject about who voted for who never really came up in my household. Partially because I didn’t want to know.
At the time that Trump was elected President I was still very much in the closet, but by the time I came out to my family he was already in office and his policies had begun to cast a dark shadow over my life in a very real way.
After my dad’s revelation about his voting habits, I packed up my things and left. I was hurt and upset. I was devastated. I was angry. Honestly, I’m not sure my dad realized at the time just how Trump’s policies could have an effect on my life, my safety, my well being. I honestly don’t even know if he realizes it now. I don’t think I ever had the courage to really tell him why what he said hurt me so badly, and why his voting for Trump, and gloating about it, bothered me in such a way that I would ghost him for a few days before I could even talk to him again.
I’m not good at confrontation. I’m not good at speaking my mind in a way that might cause confrontation. In fact, I tend to avoid it at all costs. That’s part of why I started this blog. It’s easier for me to write things down that are on my mind, than it is to speak them.
I feel like, until now, my dad and my relationship with politics was treated as if it the Republicans and Democrats were rival sports teams. An inconsequential differing of opinions where we both ribbed each other for liking the other team. What I think my dad fails to understand, or perhaps my inability to explain until now, is that to me, it’s not an inconsequential differing of opinions. To me, the question of Republican vs Democrat is very much life or death. The further along in my transition I get, and the more that the Trump administration does, the less hyperbolic that statement gets.
As we approach the midterm elections, that dark shadow that I’ve always feared has finally begun to reveal itself as the evil monster that it truly is.
First, the Trump Administration reverted the Obama Administration’s bathroom policies for transgender students. Next, they started trying to kick transgender individuals out of the military. A month ago, the State Department’s website updated it’s rules for changing gender markers on passports, which was then reverted a few days later. Now, the Trump Administration wants to completely define transgender people out of existence. If Trump gets his way, I won’t ever be able to legally leave the country again, or if I do, they might not let me back in.
Which, of course, might even be the least of my worries. Transgender people are already murdered at record numbers compared to cisgender people. Transgender people already face discrimination for being who they are. What do you think will happen as the federal government further and further removes protections for transgender people? I’m living on the frontline of a civil rights debate, and if history is any indication, the fight is not going to be a pleasant one.
All of this is even ignoring issues such as constant attempts by the Republican Party to defund Planned Parenthood, which happens to be the only place I am able to get hormone therapy within a two hour radius.
I’m lucky enough to live in one of the few states in the midwest that has protections for transgender people, but that doesn’t matter much when the federal government is about to completely erase the existence of people like me. I realize that most state laws override those of the federal government, but that doesn’t help me with issues such as social security and my passport.
All I can do is hope that my corrected passport arrives in the mail in the next few weeks, before all of these changes take effect, and that in 10 years when my renewal comes up, the nation will have come to its senses regarding transgender rights. That is, of course, assuming they don’t start retroactively voiding passports that had gender markers changed on them.
I’m scared. I’ve been scared for a long time. Being scared is one of the reasons I stayed as closeted as I was, and for as long as I did. I didn’t come out because I was no longer scared. I came out because I could no longer keep my head underwater.
No matter what happens politically, I am still a woman. I will always be a woman. No matter what the federal government decides or individual states decide, my identity is something that cannot be taken away from me, even if my rights are. My identity is not political, but for some reason the past few years it has become that way. It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating.
This isn’t even just about transgender rights, despite being the subject of this particular post. Gay Marriage, a battle we have already fought and won, is once again at stake with a new conservative Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade is at stake. LGBT rights and Women’s rights are at stake. Immigrant rights are at stake. People that I love and care about are at stake. These are real people’s lives and wellbeing that are being put at risk. People like myself, people like my best friends, people like my brother-in-law, people like my nephew. So many of my friends and family are affected by the decisions and policies that the Republican Party is responsible for.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. We can still fight. I, for one, am not about to give up. I will no longer remain quiet and avoid the discussion.
I don’t care what your political affiliations were up until this point in time. I don’t care that you believe in fiscal conservatism and low taxes. I don’t care that you’ve never voted for a Democrat in your life. I don’t care that the Democratic party isn’t perfect, and that they are barely further left than the center line. I don’t care that the Democratic party is basically conservative compared to every other first world nation’s liberal party. I don’t care if you think the answer is somewhere in the middle, because even if it was, the Republican Party does not care. I don’t care if you think voting third party is anything other than throwing your vote away.
What I care about right now is that you vote Democrat regardless of those opinions. I refuse to believe that anyone who truly cares about family, about lives, about real people, can continue to vote Republican, or vote third party, or abstain from voting in this political climate. Vote Democrat, because the alternative is a nightmare come to life. Vote Democrat as if your life depends on it, because for some of us it does.