By Seamus H. Robertson
The recent election results have shaken me and many of my loved ones right down to our glittery, queer boots—and for good reason. There is a red House, red Senate, a white nationalist president with a conversion therapy-promoting sidekick to look forward to come January. To top it off, Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in his first one hundred days in office, which will leave many folks, especially low income trans folks, vulnerable to lapses in critical care of all kinds. This is one heck of a beast to stare down, and one that has me searching my pockets for spare courage.
Like so many folks, I woke up the morning after election day to countless articles confirming that Trump was, in fact, the president-elect. I proceeded to sit on my couch in a blinkless stupor for two days. I scoured social media feeds, reading as many different reactions as I could, attempting to reconfigure myself to the reality of what we had just done. Many other white folks in my community shared my shock, heaving with grief and the horror of the unknown. It was as if none of us saw this coming, or believed the U.S. would allow such an ignorant, incompetent, hateful person to take office.
Many people of color in my community, on the other hand, displayed more grounded emotions when I talked to them. No one seemed that surprised; in fact, many seemed to expect this outcome. I could sense that many of them simply felt that this ideology of white nationalism has always been the case on some level. I sensed a reaction something like, “We’ll keep fighting as we always have.” And now, I felt a part of the larger fight against Trump’s hateful rhetoric against all minorities.
I saw friends circulating the now well-known “Oh Shit! What Do I Do Before January?” doc, that has now become the Oh Crap! What Now? Survival Guide site. People were planning community events in Durham Central Park, getting ready to protest, having potlucks—doing what they’ve always done when bullshit comes down from the state.. My partner’s response rang in my mind like a bell of mindfulness:
As a queer Muslim, I have already felt my fear and panic. This does not surprise me. I’ve been knowing this was a white supremacist system. What I’m focusing my energy on is figuring out how I can support my community and prepare for the worst.
*Blink* Oh, right.
This incarnation of systemic oppression may be new to some of us white LGBTQ folks, but living under a statehood that could care less about us, and that has actively worked to snuff us out, is nothing new. Just ask Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson about the raids and riots of Stonewall, or Bebe Scarpinato of the Queens Liberation Front about fighting NYC’s original bathroom bills. For those concerned about medical care, consult Leslie Feinberg about what it’s like to struggle against systems that seek to extract the energy of your being and deny you needed care in the interest of profit.
If you find yourself frozen in terror in the face of this emboldened Confederate beast, remember that LGBTQ folks, led by trans*femmes of color, have been marching and fighting like hell, beating it back for generations. We are still alive and fighting today because of the work of queer femmes of color, like those of #Blacklivesmatter who refuse to let life be dictated by a white supremacist state and a silent citizenry.
Here at home, we’re organizing a clinic for folks who need name changes or need to otherwise get their identity documents in order, as well as coming together to share skills and knowledge on everything from gardening to hormones. Nationally, the Trans Relief Project is providing monetary assistance for folks to update their ID documents, obtain passports, and process name changes. My partner and I have also opened our apartment up for folks to just come and rest. Our living room has been transformed into a blanket-fort-comfort-cave, fully equipped with tinctures, herbal teas, and movie streaming.
These are the kinds of actions with which we can build supportive networks, and we have a wealth of history and knowledge from which to draw the wisdom and strength we need. If you haven’t already, get together with folks and begin compiling a list of resources: food pantries, low-cost healthcare, queer-friendly employers, local LGBTQ organizations, and others. If there is a resource not currently available, know that you have the power to create that resource. Take this opportunity to share yourself and show up for loved ones, and to practice letting love and support find you.
We’re not any less supported than we’ve ever been; we have only been made acutely aware just how little this state may care for our lives. We come from longstanding traditions of tireless vigilance, fearless love, and tenacious spirits who persevered despite this violence. We have been organizing and creating community-based systems of care for as long as we have been finding each other in this pale, blinding sea of cis-hetero-whiteness.
It is in this legacy that I gather my courage, and by this spirit that I stand in solidarity with those who continue to lead the way out. Our communities have always, and will continue, to sustain the folks thrown to the margins by fear and hate. It’s going to take everything we have to thrive through this time, but what we have is everything we need.
Seamus (they/them/theirs) is a white, queer, trans*person with type 1 Diabetes who is often found slinging coffee, running, or talking to trees. Though previously they were going to be a pastor, they instead found meaning in the vocations of witch, body-worker, and writer. They live with their partner and adorable cat in Durham, NC. You can find them soon at theflannelwitch.com