Trans Leaders React to the Election

News + PoliticsAaron Rose
Image by Rebecca Lieberman

Image by Rebecca Lieberman

By Aaron Rose

It has been quite the week. In these dark and uncertain times, I am holding close in my heart the knowledge that we have been in this fight for a long time, and we know how to survive.

As trans people, our existence has always been resistance. Just like queers, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and all those targeted by the new administration, we have always had a bullseye on our backs. Trump’s hate is the latest manifestation of a system that has always been predicated upon our oppression.

We know how to fight, we know how to hold each other, we know how to organize, we know how to survive. We know how to do the work to create alternatives within and outside of oppressive coercive systems. We’ve been doing it our whole lives. We’ve been doing it for generations.

Within hours of the election results being finalized, my social media feeds were overflowing with updates from my queer, trans, POC, immigrant, and Muslim friends sending messages of support and sharing the organizing they were already doing in response to the likely rollback of many of President Obama’s executive orders in January.

Under the hashtag #translawhelp people are coordinating legal help for trans people rushing to update their names and gender markers on their documentation. Fundraisers to cover those legal costs now abound. Organizers have also created a summary document and a separate wiki advising how all marginalized demographics can prepare for the impacts of Trump’s policies.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive round-up on these resources and the steps trans folks can take to prepare and protect themselves for the new administration. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a handful of poignant reactions from trans folks about the election results. Take in their words of solidarity and love, and find comfort in the knowledge that we stand in this struggle together.

In the hours following the election results, many trans activists and writers took to social media to remind us to allow ourselves time to process and mourn this outcome.

Others reminded us of the limits of this neoliberal democracy and of the fact that Trump’s election is not shocking within the white supremacist legacy of this country.

And, finally, others reminded us of our long history of struggle and resilience, which will guide the way forward.

As our community leaders remind us of our legacy of resilience, I am reminded of those who came and fought before. Today marks the second anniversary of the death of revolutionary trans leader, activist, and writer Les Feinberg. Their legacy is a daily touchstone for me, and I am finding their words particularly nurturing this week. In 1998, Feinberg wrote:

"I don’t think the point is: Why are we different? Why have we refused to walk one of two narrow paths, but instead demanded the right to blaze our own? The question is not why we were unwilling to conform even when being beaten to the ground by ridicule and brutality.

“The real burning question is: how did we ever find the courage? From what underground spring did we draw our pride? How did each of us make our way in life, without a single familiar star in the night sky to guide us, to this room where we have at last found others like ourselves? And after so much of ourselves has been injured, or left behind as expendable ballast, many of us worry 'What do we have left to give each other? Upon what basis will we build something lasting between us?'

“I think we have a whole world to give back to each other."

During trying, painful times like these, it is easy to feel spent, to feel drained, to wonder how we can possibly muster the courage and the capacity to fight against such brazen and empowered hatred. But we will. This is what we do.

We will love each other fiercely, we will organize community and support systems, we will create study circles and educate ourselves about our history and our options. We will do the next right thing, the next tangible step, bit by bit, day after day. This is the long haul struggle, against white supremacy, against sexism, against transphobia, against xenophobia. This is our life’s work. There is no way but forward.


Aaron Rose (he/him/his) is an education strategist, curriculum developer, and activist who believes in the power of education to fuel social change. A lifelong New Yorker, Aaron is an avid history buff, a Harry Potter fan, and a reluctant recent coffee convert. Find Aaron online @aaronxrose and