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Simpson writes: "The announcement that Donald Trump won the election was devastating for many people, but transgender people like me were especially frightened to hear the news."

A demonstrator holds a sign at a transgender rights rally. (photo: National Center for Transgender Equality)
A demonstrator holds a sign at a transgender rights rally. (photo: National Center for Transgender Equality)

Trans People Are Terrified of What Lies Ahead. We Must Look Out for One Another

By Hannah Simpson, Guardian UK

12 November 16


Donald Trump as president presents a very real threat that our lives will grow even harder, and more expendable. Our main protest: refuse to disappear

he announcement that Donald Trump won the election was devastating for many people, but transgender people like me were especially frightened to hear the news.

The future of coming out depended on who we voted into office. Today that future looks darker. The election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence to our nation’s highest office gives the social conservatives who championed them free reign to overturn decades of progress.

Same-sex marriage legalization had an important impact on transgender people by making the relative gender of two partners moot if either of them transitioned. Spouses no longer needed to justify, by paperwork or surgery, that they were sufficiently opposite or risk their marriage being voided if they did transition to the same gender. A right-shifted supreme court could void all same-sex unions, and perhaps even challenge the fitness of transgender persons to be parents.

Violence against trans people may well continue, tacitly endorsed by this new administration. Trump has repeatedly incited violence at his campaign appearances. The myth that the authenticity we strive to achieve is in fact a deception will persist and be bolstered. Judges appointed by a Trump administration will be more likely to accept a defense of “trans panic”, to justify violence against us. This has been a problem even before Trump, but any chance of the climate improving vanished this week.

Access to healthcare, including mental services, may become more difficult during Trump’s presidency. The Affordable Care Act’s considerable progress on affirming care for trans needs may well be thwarted. State-sanctioned discrimination such as North Carolina’s House Bill 2 might make it more difficult for LGBTQ people to be covered in an employer-based healthcare system when we can’t find jobs.

HB 2, which legalizes discrimination across the LGBT spectrum and specifically targets transgender individuals like me by making it illegal to use bathrooms that don’t accord with one’s genitals, made North Carolina personal. I joined the North Carolina Democratic Coordinated Campaign in August as a field organizer and was quickly promoted to LGBTQ organizer, based out of Raleigh and Charlotte. I worked to engage queer people and bring up queer issues with everyone else.

“Legislating peeing is legislating being,” I’d say, as I spoke to countless strangers about the realities of life as a trans person, contrasting the predatory, immoral and perverse portrait that others may paint. It was never about bathroom privacy; it was about making it functionally impossible to exist as a transgender person in public spaces. We are not like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy: our existence is not predicated on anyone else’s belief in us.

It would be dangerous to accuse all Trump supporters of thinking in certain ways – I spoke to plenty of them. Most were surprised that I was trans and reassured me that nobody was going to bother me about using a ladies’ restroom. They saw me as a convincing woman, especially for barely celebrating my third year as one. They don’t see me as the person this law is talking about, except that I am.

And so are many others like me: out, or on their way to being so, in North Carolina and across the country. I was invited to speak at a suburban Charlotte high school where a male-presenting student told me in the middle of the crowded hallway that she is actually a girl, but her parents don’t get it yet. A senior citizen at our nightly office phone bank in Durham pulled me aside with a tap of his cane to ask me in private if I really thought it was never too late to transition. Now more than ever, we need to take care of each other, amid legitimate fears that our country might not.

Despite our fear and worry, what I saw on the ground in North Carolina, among ourselves and our allies, will never cease to inspire me. Early in my time in the state, a psychiatrist friend invited me to share my story at one of the first seminars on trans mental health for active-duty military at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, where I received a commander’s challenge coin for demonstrated bravery. As election day loomed, I saw transgender canvassers resilient in exercising our constitutional right to canvass after police were called in upon us by disapproving neighborhood residents. Election night itself continued with an endless barrage of checking-in by phone calls, texts and hugs from friends and strangers alike.

Even in defeat, we remain far stronger together.

And on Facebook on Thursday, I saw this from another friend, Zoë, in her 20s. She has lived in secrecy as a trans woman for years:

So I’ve come to a decision. For those of you on here who aren’t already aware, I’m a bisexual transgender woman. I’m a member of the community that Trump and Pence want to reinstate conversion therapy for. Therapy that resulted in me developing PTSD, among other things. I was considering wiping my online presence and going back in hiding, but you know what? Fuck that. I’m not going anywhere. I’m gonna see what steps I can take through activism and see if I can become more visible. God knows our community is going to need it.

The world will be moved all the more by those who chose this night to claim their identities even more visibly, having felt their voices alone were not heard.

Asserting our own and ensuring others’ freedom of expression remains the greatest expression of freedom there is. Those who came before us – those whose sweat, tears and, too often, blood won us the chance to even contemplate our ourselves as unique yet worthy – faced times like these. We owe it to them and to ourselves to persevere. your social media marketing partner
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