The Uphill Struggle Continues for Transgender America
by Mila Madison
We have just endured an election season where hate and divisiveness have reached their highest proportions. People all across the world are going at each other on social media. The bigots in America feel empowered. The oppressed feel there is no hope. LGBTQ suicide lines are lighting up in record numbers. People are taking to the streets while others are wandering through their days like zombies, in complete shock over the results of yet another brutal election.
For the winners, they saw it as their only hope. The privileged were losing their privilege. There is no other way to put it. For the dying middle class and rural America, they watched as corporations turned more profits while they felt were being left behind. The cost of everything had gone up while their wages remained flat. The world was changing around them both economically and socially. It was not the world their parents lived in. It wouldn’t have mattered if it were Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. They just wanted something different. They felt they were losing everything due to a corrupt system. In other words, they were becoming like us, the minorities in America, and they did everything they could to prevent it.
“OUT OF THE CRACKS CAME THE RACISTS, HOMOPHOBES, MISOGYNISTS AND THE ANTI-TRANSGENDER GROUPS.”
Then we have the darker side of what happened. It feels like the country has been turned back 100 years. The veil of hate has been lifted; exposing a piece of America that we all thought had died out many years ago and had been left to just a handful of crazies. Out of the cracks came the racists, homophobes, misogynists and the anti-transgender groups. We watch as vengeful actions of hate take place all across the country, perpetrated by those who feel they now have the right to do so.
As a transgender person, it is almost impossible not to be worried about the road ahead. If we believe everything we hear we could be facing some tough times. We are left facing the prospect of a Supreme Court slanted against us, our very rights as human beings in the crosshairs. We see the record of Mike Pence and we worry about his influence in what is to come. The prospect of conversion therapy all of a sudden seems real. We watch as Steve Bannon of Breitbart, the website responsible for a slew of anti-transgender articles, becomes Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. It is a scary proposition. Everything we have fought for could be lost.
“IT IS NOT JUST THE GAINS MADE BY THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY THAT ARE IN DANGER OF BEING LOST.”
It is not just the gains made by the transgender community that are in danger of being lost. Marriage equality is now back on the table. Gains in human rights altogether are back on the table. Just think a year ago I wondered if the “T” was being left behind in the LGBT. It all appears mute now that we may all just need each other yet again. But it is not just the LGBTQIA that needs to come together, it is all minorities, all those who are oppressed.
We all need to unite as one, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, women’s rights activists, LGBTQIA and anyone else who is oppressed that will join us. We need to become a larger voting block and force the politicians to take us seriously. We are all too small to go it alone. We need to be motivated with the same fervor as the Evangelicals. We need to participate in every election at every level of government and not just the Presidential election every four years. Only then will our voices be truly heard.
“THOUGH WHAT SEEMED SO CLOSE FOR THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY COULD NOW GET PULLED AWAY, THE JOURNEY DOES NOT END HERE.”
What we have witnessed is simply a market correction. A cold hard reality check that tells us we still have much work to do. Though what seemed so close for the transgender community could now get pulled away, the journey does not end here. We carry on and get back to work. Though we have seen an upswell of hate, we still need to realize that the majority of America believes we should have rights. Unfortunately transgender rights weren’t at the forefront of their minds when they voted. For many it was about economics and the subconscious loss of privilege. Many were Barack Obama voters, a president who like him or not, did more for the transgender cause than any president in our history.
This week is Transgender Awareness Week. It is a time when we remember those we have lost. We shine a light on the struggles we face as a community. We celebrate what we have achieved. I hope we reflect on just how precious our rights are. I hope all those who are oppressed in this world realize that they can never get complacent and that they cannot go it alone. Even though rights can be achieved, we all have to keep fighting for them to remain. We have to keep fighting for those who come after us. We all have to work together. No one group owns oppression. No one is the authority on what it means to be transgender. We are all a collection of our experiences. They all matter.
The time has come to start working harder than we ever have before. We need to find ways to build our communities. If you live in a place where there are no resources for transgender people, be the person who creates them. Think of ways you can help. Start a community center. Take action. Don’t wait for someone else to swoop down and save us. Most importantly, don’t retreat into the closets that have oppressed us for generations. Transgender people are the most resilient. We have always existed and have always survived the worst oppression. Let us not lose all we have gained. Together with all those who are oppressed, our allies and our community, the struggle will go on.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,