Let’s rewind to the night of the November 8th- I sat with my family in front of my mom’s big screen TV, excitedly waiting for the results that would announce the new leader of our free world. I won’t go into details of the battlefield my mind had endured when casting my ballot, but I can assure you, my vote was not one for Trump. Near the end of the night, with a nerve wrecking close race, I felt sick to my stomach and our exciting night came to an end as we solemnly parted ways. We had decided that we could no longer watch the race. I walked through my front door and made a bee line for my couch, where I fell into an emotionally exhausted slumber. I woke up at around 3am and frantically searched for my phone so that I could check the election results, and to my disgust, I saw that Donald Trump was our newly elected President. It felt unreal. Nobody saw it coming. I wrestled with my own mind for hours, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Why was this so terrifying? Why was I so worried? This was more than just a political party race- but from distress, my mind couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
For the next few months, until the date of his inauguration, I analyzed the campaign promises Donald Trump had made. While his general rhetoric was repetitively explaining that he was for LGBT rights, he had a troubling past of supporting “traditional marriage” and his choice for Vice President was an LGBT enemy. Mike Pence supported Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, fought marriage equality on the grounds of “religious freedom” and believed in conversion therapy, among other anti-gay beliefs. America has an infamous past of poor treatment to those of LGBTQ identities, and this election created a path back to historical times of LGBTQ hell. I feared that the work of the LGBTQ community, and those who lost their lives fighting for our rights, would be erased.
That fear is becoming a reality. Just hours after the inauguration earlier this year, the Trump administration had scrubbed the white house website of the LGBT page. This page is still available on the archived Barack Obama version on whitehouse.gov, however, was not deemed of importance to keep during the Trump administration, along with other pages such as the climate change page, civil rights page, and Spanish translation option. This was only table setting for the year and changes to come.
By January 31st, a leaked draft of the anti-LGBTQ executive order is received with a protest at the historic Stonewall National Monument. The Trump administration denied that it was an order that was considered by Trump, but that doesn’t stop the panic. “Inside sources” then reveal that he was in fact considering signing this order, that eerily resembled the First Amendment Defense Act, a “religious freedom” bill that Trump had promised to sign during his campaign. However, his daughter Ivanka and son in law Jared intervened, and it was not signed.
Then came along Betsy DeVos, whom for many reasons, I do not support. Her history of ties and donations to anti-LGBTQ groups being one of them. The lack of representation and sexual education for the LGBTQ children was already a concern, and suddenly we were going to have to fear discrimination on our children in public schools that would be allowed by the education system. If Betsy wasn’t enough, we then got Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who has been called “a lifelong opponent of the civil rights of LGBT people, people of color, women and immigrants” by Lambda Legal Executive Director Rachel Tiven.
From surges in hate groups, the revoking of the equal access to bathrooms for transgender students, to President Trump signing an executive order that revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, my worst nightmares were coming true. The progress that those before us fought and died for, was being washed away. We were even removed from the drafted 2020 U.S. census, where the Department of Commerce said that including the LGBTQ Americans was an error, because there was no need for this data. We had moved forward so much, only to have our inclusions become errors, as we were not necessary.
Another troublesome issue- the White House along with the Trump Administration, refused to acknowledge or declare June as pride month. Although he isn’t the first sitting president to refuse to do so, he is the first who vehemently defends himself as an LGBT ally who refused to. Actions speak louder than those campaign lies, and we can all see the truth clearly now.
The hits just keep coming, as we battle with the supreme court about Transgender Bathroom Laws and Discrimination cases, that question whether a business can discriminate because of their religious beliefs. When speaking with a friend, she expresses her concerns by stating “There’s been a definite increase in discrimination. It’s essentially given people the “go ahead” to say things that, I feel, they would not have said before Trump was president. Especially here in Fresno, let alone elsewhere. I’m afraid more for my friends who can’t pass for straight, especially my trans friends.” Her concerns are not unfounded. In 2016, at least 22 deaths of transgender people due to fatal violence were tracked. So far in 2017, that number is already at 14 transgender people who were fatally shot or killed by other violence. She adds “The bathroom bills are already a slippery slope towards legal discrimination against trans people.” Although she identifies as a bisexual cis woman, she recognizes the dangers in her surrounding community, as do I.
Months after election night, and I’m starting to pinpoint the fear I felt. It’s the looming doom of oppression, and the preparation for battle. We fought for human rights, we fought for civil rights, we fought for freedom of expression and for personal autonomy. We fought so that people can be who they are without discrimination. We were so close, and now I feel we have an uphill battle to restore equality. My biggest fear is that we as the LGBTQ community became comfortable with the Obama administration. We need to connect with our communities and allies to be politically aware, and to be active in everything that we do. It is not trivial to prepare our fight, because we are already being stripped of rights. The increase in hate crimes for all minority groups is unacceptable, so we need to stay safe. Our community is most important right now, and we need to access and be aware of all the resources available. I am including some internet resources below this article. Check them out- and please- don’t give up hope and be safe!