Trans Panic: Coping with a Trump Presidency and the Shifting Political Climate

Originally published in the San Antonio Current

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was check the results of the presidential election on my phone. I had fallen asleep fairly early, before all was decided, because the way the race was leaning was making me far too anxious. Despite the efforts of proponents of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and many other marginalized groups, Donald J. Trump was elected our next president.

When I woke my boyfriend to tell them the news, he tried to reassure me by saying, “He won’t stop us from having a future together.”

I knew he was talking about the possibility of Trump, his camp and Trump-leaning conservatives going after transgender rights and civil liberties with this new figurehead to provide a face to the bigotry circulating through our governmental systems. See, my boyfriend and I spent the night before discussing the potential of adopting children and moving forward in our relationship in a serious way, but when I woke up to see those results, I had this horrible feeling that all the progress we as a society have made for trans people might be decimated and that, as a consequence, I might have to put aspects of my future on hold.

See, as a queer transgender women of color, the results of this election have some strong implications for me and those like me. All the conversations on transgender bathroom laws, discriminatory rights of businesses, the denial of basic healthcare for trans people and so on, are going to open up again and again, and with a president like Trump and a strongly anti-LGBTQ vice president like Mike Pence, the life that I’ve worked so hard to build is under attack even more so than before.

After sitting with these thoughts for an hour or so, I called my mom and asked her if she would accompany me to the Social Security building sometime soon so I can get my card reprinted with my legal name, which I had changed along with my gender marker back in March of this year. I had been procrastinating knocking out that checkmark on my transition list because I’m not a fan of bureaucratic processes and I knew that I would get to it eventually.

Now, I feel like I have to get everything done and finalized, including the amending of my birth certificate and signing up for health insurance with my correct, legal information before Obama leaves office, as I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it done with the same effort after the fact. I imagined my lawyer, who represents a large number of LGBTQ individuals in the central Texas area, opening up his emails and checking his voicemails to the sound of panic and concern. I know I drafted my own message to him with great fear.

And this fear is not unfounded. I have seen proposed, and passed, anti-trans legislation that requires trans people to adhere to their assigned gender, the gender on one’s original birth certificate, when it comes to using public gendered facilities, participating in sports-related activities and any number of the gendered practices that we engage with in our country. And I would be remiss to fail mentioning the fact that trans women of color are assaulted and murdered so frequently that there’s no time for us to heal or grieve as a community before the next attack occurs. So now, the heat is on me and thousands of other trans people to rush our transition processes, especially any sort of legal changes, before it’s too late and more laws pass that may cause our further marginalization.

I logged onto Facebook and saw my trans friends were all feeling similar anxiety, feeling like we have to get everything done and out of the way before things start moving. I read from more than one friend’s status that they were considering going back into the closet or de-transitioning because the threat of violence and hatred toward people who are openly and visibly trans is far too great now.

Make no mistake, this election affects a wide range of people who have historically suffered at the hands of federal, state and local government, and I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s emotions or situations now that the national political climate is shifting so dramatically. Undocumented peoples, Muslims, women of color, queer people, disabled people are all going to experience pushback more than we ever have in recent years. For the sake of my trans brothers, sisters and nonbinary folks, I must iterate that the bullseye that has been placed on trans people will only grow larger and more focused now that bigots have found themselves in the highest elected positions in the land.

The governmental systems in place have never worked for transgender individuals, never allowed for us to thrive as members of our community, never allowed us any semblance of life, liberty or happiness without a bloody fight, and it seems that’s not going to change any time soon.

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