By Alex DiFrancesco
In the wake of the election results, many demographics across the nation have been faced with a sense of anxiety and despair. Upon finding out the news that Donald Trump had become President-elect the LGBTQIA community’s worst fears quickly set in. Many older LGBTQIA people, who witnessed the atrocities of the Reagan era and AIDS crisis, painted a dim picture of the future based on their past. Younger community members suffered immediately, with calls to crisis hotlines such as The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline hitting unprecedented numbers.
Steve Mendelsohn, Deputy Executive Director of The Trevor project, said that incoming calls to the crisis line increased by three times the usual amount in the days directly following the election, and chats and texts were up 50% from genderqueer identified youth, 18% from trans identified youth, and 30% from youth who self-identified as “other” in terms of gender. Mendelsohn said that common fears included loss of healthcare, repealing of rights, and fear that progress made in the last few years will be rolled back.
Mendelsohn says that The Trevor Project will be “working harder than ever before” both in the capacity of providing mental health support of youth and putting pressure on government representatives.
Various probabilities of the coming years struck fear into the hearts of the transgender community in particular. With a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as Trump has promised to do within his first one hundred days in office, many would lose access to the care that has literally saved their lives. Social media sites gave transgender people a place to make offers of assistance to one another. A large push amongst the community spread online that informs those with U.S. citizenship to get passports before they could no longer do so under their appropriate gender marker, and some began to plead with cisgender friends for help. Testosterone which is often prescribed to cis men for low sex drive and gives them greater alertness and concentration later in life. Estrogen is easily prescribed to menopausal cis women and spironolactone is provided at ease for cis women who have acne or “excessive” hair growth. Trans people have asked cis people try to get these prescriptions and pass them along to their trans friends who may lose access to hormones.
A Google doc* that is being passed around the LGBTQIA community contains best practices for us during this time such as making protective decisions about gender markers on legal identification, seeing doctors for everything possible while still covered under ACA, and protecting ones’ family through any possible citizenship processes or second parent adoptions.
A different living document, that’s also graced the internet, invites donors for trans folks—everyone from doctors willing to provide necessary documentation to people willing to donate money or emotional support.
Ronica Mukerjee, a nurse practitioner with eight years of experience servicing the trans community, warns against the adeptness of some of these methods.
“Do I think it’s foolish for people to fear they’ll have less access to medication? No, it’s not impossible for people to have insurance go away. We’re trying to create community alternatives.”
Mukerjee worries not just about the loss of hormones for transgender people, but the loss of funding for HIV prevention. She says that currently trans women, and especially black trans women, are at a vastly increased risk for contracting HIV, and cuts to funding could worsen the situation.
Many of these solutions leave out care and planning for those in rural areas of the United States. The trans population often faces greater discrimination medically and legally. Risks such as homelessness, low income status, and widespread discrimination, which the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported as staggeringly high when combined with systemic racism, are only likely to increase under a presidency that has openly condoned bigotry.
Mukerjee says that an effective course allies might take is providing transportation to transgender people who live outside city limits to see specialists within them if all possible, and providing funds necessary to visit doctors.
Many solutions to what we’re facing lay in private organizations that support us, but some solutions also lie in our relationships with one another.
“We at the Trevor Project know it only takes one supportive person to save a life. We need to be there to listen to each other,” Mendelsohn said.
Vivien Ryder, a trans community organizer and poet, agrees.
“This election has, for many of us, made real our worry that many of the people around us don’t want us to exist. It’s confirmation of the internalized rejection we carry with us every day. It’s important to offer affirming care and attention to others around us, to remind them that they’re valuable to us.”
Almost immediately after disaster struck, many LGBTQIA people began to do what we’ve done for years—organizing our own survival systems to combat a transphobic and desperate future. Many of us felt in the first days after the election that it would be better to die than to go back to our lives without access to the care and support we need to survive. There are certainly dark times ahead, but as trans people, it’s our heritage to fight back, to love each other fiercely, and to leave no one behind.
*The Google doc for best practices requests that media outfits not link to it directly, so as not to be overwhelmed. If you are interested in the doc, please email us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex DiFrancesco's fiction has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The New Ohio Review, and Monkeybicycle. Their first novel, a radical acid western called The Devils That Have Come to Stay, was published in 2015. Their nonfiction has appeared in Brevity and Crixeo, and they have done storytelling at The Queens Lit Fest, The Fringe Festival, Life of the Law, and The Heart Podcast.