I went to a rally last week. In part it was a protest of Trump, but more importantly it was a protest of the things he positioned himself to stand through durring the campaigning cycle. It was people gathering to say: “We do not hate.”
When the speakers were done, they opened the mic for anyone who had anything they wanted to say or share. I waffled back and forth on whether or not I would go up. I wanted to, but a lifetime of fear held me back, even in a place that I knew was affirming and accepting.
I wondered: How much would what I have to say matter? Wouldn’t it just detract from what everyone else said? Would I even be up there for the right reason, or would I just be trying to make something — for even a moment — be all about me?
I don’t know.
But this blog is all about me, when you get down to it, so…
This is what I was going to say:
….My name is Emily. The law doesn’t recognize that name, but it is mine.
I am transgender.
I have always tried to keep that fairly low key. I only came out publicly about a year ago. I haven’t made a fuss or spectacle of it. If a bathroom bill had passed in my state, I probably would’ve gone back in the closet for my public life rather than tried to fight it. And after a few more years, if it wasn’t repealed, I probably would have killed myself.
Because that was where I was, when I finally came out. Unable to tolerate living a lie any longer, and asking myself: What is more radical? Living as who I really am, or ending my life so I don’t have to live as who I am not?
When I saw the election results coming in, I was horrified. I knew what they would mean for people like me, and I could only imagine what they would mean for people of the ethnic and religious groups who had been targeted by Trump’s hate speeches on the campaign trail; by his campaign promises.
I felt despair. Getting a legal name change? Getting my gender markers changed? Being myself? I saw the chances for all of that going away. An article popped up in my feed about a transgender veteran who’s truck had been spray painted ‘Trump’ and lit on fire outside her house, and I saw my safety — already far too tenuous — draining away. And I knew it was the same for anyone that Trump’s supporters could target — the same for anyone who was despised by the bigots, mysoginists; racists his election vindicated and “legitimized.”
More than once, I saw posts with suicide hotlines being shared. I conscidered calling one, but I didn’t want to have to explain to my wife why I needed the cell phone right then, when she was using it to follow her own news feeds and facebook posts and skype conversations.
It didn’t matter, anyway: Far too many people depended on me for me to justify taking the easiest way out of this life. That’s kept me alive more than once in the past, and although I felt despair — for myself, for others; for my nation — I had not been ground down the way depression had done in the past. It was just as well that I didn’t call: it would leave the line open to someone who genuinely needed it….
At the rally, I meant to conclude with something along the lines that while I’d been thinking of my family when I reflected on the people who relied on me, the truth was that the circle needed to be drawn bigger. That in the face of president elect Trump, we all must rely on each other. We need to defend everyone’s rights — not just our own. It was the people who thought only of themselves who won the election for Trump. The people who could afford to be “okay” with his blatant racism and mysogony, because they were confident that it would not affect them — the people who didn’t care about those who would suffer.
I would have meant for it to be a message of unity. A reminder that we shouldn’t give in to despair; that we all rely on others to protect our rights, just as they rely on us. That we need to shore up our strength so that we can be relied on, because we are facing a long, hard struggle to preserve our rights and legal protections.
But the fact of the matter is: I’m not really that strong, myself. I waffled, unable, in the end, to speak up to a crowd. Not even to share a message I knew they’d support. So how can I pretend I’ll be strong enough to stand up when I witness someone acting out of hate? When legislation starts to change?
I’m tired. I ache: my body, from the last weekend. And my heart, from the last week. I’m tired. Not physically — my newest medication is helping quite a bit with that. But emotionally. It was hard enough for me to overcome my anxiety enough to get medications and come out as transgender to begin with. Now?
I just want to sleep.
But people still depend on me.
So I have to keep on going.
Ugh. Despite all that, I’m afraid I can’t keep up with it. I’m depressed again. I know I’m depressed. I know what it feels like; recognize the signs. I don’t have a lot of hope anymore.
My day job measures productivity in three minute incriments. Yay for the amazing things you can do when computers time stamp everything, right? And I’m struggling. I’m struggling to work at all. I’m horrified because the company I work for has branches that work with the government, and since I contribute to the company I am contributing to the Trump presidency.
I’ve always been disheartened by the amount of time I have to put into the day job just to keep financially afloat, but now I have to swallow the fact that the time I put in is going to provide support for the policies and activities of a president who will be actively undermining my safety and well being.
I can’t stomach that. I know that I need to start applying for jobs elsewhere, but now I’m even more afraid of losing my insurance if it doesn’t work out at a different place. And I’m just so. fucking. depressed. I’ve been struggling just to keep up with getting my current medications and make my doctor’s appointments.
Putting together a resume? Putting out applications?
I’d planned on doing that after getting my legal name and gender marker changes, so I wouldn’t have to go through the “by the way, I’m transgender. My preferred name is…” conversation with everyone. Wouldn’t have to struggle with HR to get the correct name on my email and keycard (if I had one) and all of that.
I seriously conscidered going back in the closet. Just for four years. Just for safety’s sake.
I want to cry more. Thinking about this to write about it, that’s enough to make me want to cry more. I’ve been trying not to; trying to tell myself that it would be okay — that even if everyone else can’t necessarily count on me because I’m depressed and broken, I can still count on other people to stand up for my rights. That at least that much of what I’d wanted to say at the rally was true.
But the fact is…
I feel like it isn’t.
I feel like I was counting on everyone else to stand up for my rights, for hispanic rights; for religious freedom. To stand against hatred and bigotry.
I counted on people for that. And I cast my votes to support them, because they could count on me.
And the people of this country gave me Trump, anyway.
And I can’t even process that. I don’t know what it means.
But even though the vote seemed so very close…
I feel so alone.