by L. Alexander
I distinctly remember that on the night of November 7th I turned my phone off, shut my eyes tightly and hoped that all would work out well. I’d submitted my absentee ballot a few weeks prior; it was six weeks before I would return to the United States. I’d fired off one last post on my, admittedly, very political blog that amounted to “Hey, America, please don’t fuck this up for the rest of us.”
When I awoke, it was 8 AM where I was and 3 AM EST. Hillary had just conceded the election, two people that I knew intimately from Tumblr and from years of online correspondence had committed suicide (both LGBT+, both from conservative households), and I had a panic attack. I’m not straight. I’m not cis. I’m not exactly able-bodied either. I somewhat relied on socialized health care to make my medication more affordable. The shorthand version is that in my absence, my country had decided to let me and countless others suffer.
I called in sick to my abroad program and didn’t come home for another four hours. I was trying to plan for everything that would happen next: I needed to change any and all of my documentation, potentially apply to remain in France, and see who all I could get out of the country before January. There were many calls home to ask if everyone I knew was okay and who needed to find somewhere else to go. Most importantly, there were calls to my Latino friends and those I was close to who weren’t white.
When coming into American border patrol in December I had the distinct feeling of having made a large and irreversible mistake.
My white father, a Harvard graduate, tried to say that it was uneducated whites who had put Trump in office. I remember countering that the hallmark of a Trump supporter is whiteness, and that across the board the largest demographic that had voted him in was white people. It was people like him and countless others who had enabled his ascent to the Oval Office. When I came back, I overheard him say he’d rather have Pence as president than Trump, seemingly forgetting that he had two gay children and Pence would prefer us dead rather than gay.
I remember earnestly asking one of my close friends if they wanted to marry me and get my EU citizenship in the process. When I talked to my older family members they said they hadn’t felt this shocked and afraid since 9/11. I deleted most of my social media presence that day and the days following after my Moroccan friend was doxxed by a neo-Nazi. As a trans person, I realized, any residual evidence of my former body and face could and would be used violently against me and against those I loved.
My brother and his now-husband got married two weeks before Trump took office, and it reminded me that any marginalized person is in open revolt and actively protesting by being happy or thriving in the current political climate.
As I’m writing this it’s been almost a week into his presidency. Four days ago, millions of people marched against him, many of my friends included. Cis white women held up posters on how great it was to have a uterus and how it made them female while blithely ignoring that the majority of them, statistically, had voted for the man they were marching against.
Meanwhile, I have a cautious bit of hope. Most people right now hate him; his approval rating is lower than the Rotten Tomatoes score for Batman Forever. If the energy to fight against his hatred and prejudice is strong enough, if we keep punching Nazis in the face instead of “giving them a chance”, we may have hope of successfully resisting. May we always resist.