As I count the ones who have taken up their dusty swords and axes for my cause, I cannot help but notice how many of the usually loud and proud voices I hear during Pride are now not even uttering a whisper in my defense.
I would be lying if I said I was not scared. I’m terrified. I’m watching minutes tick by closer to November 6, not sure if each one is a moment toward hope or the terrible beginning of the end for myself and the 1.4 million other people who make up the T in Mike Pence’s least favorite acronym.
Since this, we have all been collectively screaming in rage, while also gathering our tears, regaining composure, and immediately throwing ourselves into protest after protest, all while simultaneously strengthening our ranks and sending out words of encouragement and power from our glorious queen Laverne Cox, to little old me, to a resilient youth that has proved to be a force of strength far beyond their years. And we did all of this while we still showed up at our jobs and schools, and made sure not to give anyone else an extra reason to discriminate against us during the day.
I do not know how well any of you slept last night, but I know that I was a nervous ball of tossing and turning, all while trying to not wake my fiancé up, because even though our president refuses to see us as actual people, who feel and love, and are deserving of love, we are. So today I woke up, still terrified, and as I scrolled through my various social media feeds, I felt my fear give way to something new. Anger, not the anger at those who let it get this far, despite all of our pleading, and not even at the administration itself, no, this was a new anger. An anger at the silence from the majority of those in the LGB part of our community, our family, carrying about their day as though a large portion of their own family was not just promised legal extinction just one day prior. Scrolling through picture after picture, the standard stream of memes and post-Sunday football GIFs, peppered among adorable baby and dog pictures, the unmistakable silence of a group of my so-called brothers and sisters who yet again seem to forget the history of their own struggle.
I have often wondered if Marsha P. Johnson would have reconsidered her position, if she knew that once the majority of their battles were won, the infantry would abandon the cavalry that had ignited the the whole fight in the first place? I am immediately reminded that of course she would have, because it is a fight we all need to win, for all of us. As someone who has had multiple coming-outs on my journey to living my truth, I have transversed through many of the individual segments of our umbrella-community, and I have met and gotten close to so many different people. As I count the ones who have taken up their dusty swords and axes for my cause, I cannot help but notice how many of the usually loud and proud voices I hear during Pride are now not even uttering a whisper in my defense.
The Trump Administration has decided that Obama gave me and every other TQIA+ American civil-rights and protections that we never deserved to have. Stop, go back and read that last sentence again. Our president, and his administration have decided that there are American citizens who are being protected from discrimination, harassment, and violence, who no longer deserve to be protected from such. We told you this was going to happen. We warned of this when they rolled back as many Federal level protections they could up to this point. We screamed it in 2016 when many of you decided to skip voting because it was not your life on the line.
It has always been our lives on the line.
Our black trans sisters have been slaughtered for decades simply for daring to exist and live their lives. Before testosterone allowed me to pass safely, I would never go to a public restroom without a chaperone. And even now, if I have that familiar feeling of eyes on me in a restaurant or store, I will opt to not go. When I was at the beach two weeks ago, I wasted so much time reminding myself that enjoying the waves in my binder was perfectly OK. On Sunday, I met up with a local group of trans/non-binary folks at the community center where I volunteer, and while we were laughing at our various stories, we were also airing out our pains and angers of the discrimination we all have faced in the pursuit of us just wanting to live happily, safely, and freely.
On Monday, we woke up shattered, and when we looked to our family, our community, the people who are the banner of love and acceptance, of belonging to something that celebrates what makes us all different and wonderful, we found silence. We found pictures of your dinners and casual discussions about Halloween costumes. And yes, while your animals are just as adorable as you say they are, we would like to be alive to continue to watch the videos you post of them, and we need your help to do so.
We need you to show up and make your voices as loud as you can: Vote. That is the absolute bare minimum. I’m not asking, or begging, I am screaming it. Every second of every minute that I am awake from now until our polls close, I am repeating “vote, so I am not erased” with every cell of my being. I might look like I am just working, commuting, walking my dog; but I promise you I am no more than a breath from that phrase at any time. For me, for the thousands of children who risk not getting a chance to see their future, for those who have spent their lives, and the ones who have actually lost them for the cause, please make your voices heard. Please do not be silent. The current administration will not stop until the entire rainbow is snuffed out. It is no longer a matter of us being stronger together, it is about us being allowed to exist at all.
Asher K. is a chef and freelance writer living an hour and a half outside of Washington, D.C., in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.