A few minutes past midnight, my partner ordered me an Uber home from his election watch party that announced the dreadful news we didn’t think possible - Donald Trump as the new President of the United States. I felt scared, tired, and frankly, numb. A surreal sense of dread overcame me, accompanied by a flurry of anxious thoughts that I wanted to sort out in the comfort of my bed where I could turn out the lights and bury myself in soft, safe blankets.
I checked my partner’s phone to see that my Uber driver and fellow passenger were both men, which increased the anxiety I had about what ignorant aggressiveness this new presidency might ignite.
Unfortunately, I was right to be concerned. I entered a conversation where the two men were questioning the legitimacy of the rape allegations against Trump. One stated Trump was too wealthy to rape anyone; he could hire anyone to have sex with him, while the other denounced one of the survivors as a stripper, which, in his opinion, makes her impossible to rape. Ordinarily, I would have spoken up against this, but what would my opinion mean to these men when a white man, accused of several accounts of rape, is elected by sixty million people as president of the United States of America?
I held my tongue in contempt and hoped for a safe trip home. Luckily, nothing happened to me on my journey home. However, the next day as I was walking my usual route to work, I was sexually harassed more aggressively and frequently than before. It was a confirmation of my worst fears - that this new political culture has emboldened people to lash out against minorities of various backgrounds.
As a trans woman of color, I am fearful. Though Obama has included gender identity in anti-discrimination legislation, it is assumed that Trump will overturn these protections, thus leaving all trans people vulnerable once again.
There’s also panic within the queer and trans community that Trump will eliminate Obamacare, thus leaving us without access to Hormone Replacement Therapy and mental health resources. It took decades of dedicated, calculated activism to gain these social services to heal the trauma we’ve endured and access the medicines that save our lives. Losing Obamacare bears a life-threatening consequence, on top of the political culture shift that’s encouraging privileged people to exert their rage and power over the most vulnerable of us.
Instead of focusing on possible legislative and executive changes that Trump may or may not enact, we should focus our energies on being community members. Right now, it’s crucial that communities broaden their horizons and work on acting in solidarity with people who are different from them.
Within a week, stories already are surfacing of Muslim women having their hijab pulled off in public, swastikas being plastered on buildings, and anti-Black messages spray painted on Black people’s homes and vehicles. Whether or not Trump will endorse such violence is irrelevant because the very real consequences of his deadly victory lies in his supporters.
This signifies a need for us to be in solidarity with one another.
Many of us are not safe, and for the next four years, we may constantly carry that worry with us. What we can also carry is a stronger throat to shout at these injustices as they are happening in real-time. We can carry rape whistles when women are being sexually harassed, cameras to record violent interactions, and kindness when marginalized people need to feel comforted in a terrifying time.
We can outlast Trump but we cannot outlast the country’s widely-held prejudices that elected him into office if we do not challenge them. If we show that we won’t stand for sexual harassment, murder against trans women of color, violently racist attacks, and Islamophobic terrorizing, we will be the ones who win this election through solidarity. We have power in our numbers and actions. We can’t allow Trump or his supporters to take that from us.
Luna Merbruja is a Project Advisor for Mirror Memoirs and intern at Biyuti Publishing.