For months leading up to November 8th I pictured how the day might unfold. For some reason, every time I visualized watching the election coverage I visualized being up all night watching an impossibly close race. I imagined hearing the worlds “Donald Trump, the next President of the United States”, and sobbing. For some reason, for the past four months, I could not visualize an election night where Hillary Clinton won the Presidency. In my heart of hearts I didn’t believe that Trump would win, but my gut told a different story. Something in me knew that Donald Trump would win this election.
This nightmare has haunted me for the past four months. When I rushed home to watch the election coverage last night it seemed that my nightmare was beginning to unfold. By 8:30 when I got home, Trump was already leading in the electoral votes. My husband and my friends told me not to worry. It’s early, they said. It will be fine, they said. Hillary can definitely still do this, they said. But the later it got the clearer it became that this nightmare was becoming reality.
The race was a nail biter, just as it had been in my visualizations. My husband and I stayed up as late as we could and eventually decided to just leave the news coverage on in our bedroom as we tried to sleep. When I finally drifted off around 2am the race still hadn’t been called. I woke up for just a moment around 3:45am and in a haze noticed that the coverage still blaring on the television had called the race for Trump. I shook my husband awake and said simply, “They called it for Trump.” He quietly replied, “I know. Go back to sleep.” He rubbed my back and held me close and we restlessly slept for three or four hours.
I awoke before my alarm because my phone was blowing up with text messages from people I love. People expressing their gratitude and love for each other in the face of a hate monger being elected President. I told my friends I loved them. I checked Facebook and Twitter, knowing that this was real, but hoping beyond hope something had changed in the few hours I’d been asleep. But, of course, nothing had changed. Donald Trump was legally elected the President of the country in which I reside.
I am sad. I am angry. But more than anything else, I am scared. A lot of people woke up this morning scared for their lives. There will be a lot of writing done and published about why people are scared for their lives. As a writer, I feel obligated to add to that collective voice. So, let me tell you why I am scared.
First and foremost I am scared because I am a woman. Donald Trump is a sexual predator. He is accused of raping a thirteen year old girl. The woman accusing him recently dropped the lawsuit because she was receiving death threats and was too afraid to appear in court. In addition to this lawsuit, a number of women have come forward accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault. These lawsuits and accusations did not stop him from winning the Presidency. In fact, a large portion of the country who supports Trump believed that these women were being paid by “the establishment” to lie about Trump so he would lose the election.
This blatant disregard for legitimate accusations of sexual assault and the victim blaming, shaming, and disbelief that has followed is clear evidence of the rape culture that pervades this country. Electing a man who has made it clear that he does not understand or care about consent speaks to the fact that this country does not understand or care about consent. As a woman, I find this terrifying.
Electing a man who talks about women the way he does without apology, who then turns around and says he respects women, says that this country does not understand what it means to respect women. He speaks about women in a way that makes it clear that he does not believe they are equal to men. He objectifies women and assesses their value based on their physical appearance and willingness to be subservient to men.
It is impossible to respect women while assessing their worth based on their appearance or sexual appeal. It is impossible to respect women while degrading them and dismissing them. It is impossible to respect women while not supporting their efforts to rise up in the world. As I woman, I am scared to live in a country that is making it clear that I am a second class citizen.
I am also scared of the potential anti-women policy changes that could come out of this Presidency. Though Trump’s stance on abortion has been unclear, Mike Pence’s has not. Pence has repeatedly stated his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has also made it clear that he would work to defund Planned Parenthood. Pence has also been pretty clear about making birth control less accessible for women, and his Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana made it legal for businesses to deny services to customers or employees based on the business owner’s religious beliefs. In his support of this legislation he cited the Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed businesses to deny employees access to birth control on company insurance plans if the business opposed birth control on religious grounds. It is clear that Mike Pence does not want women to have control over their own reproductive systems or their bodies in general.
As a women with a chronic reproductive disease, endometriosis, whose life is only made bearable by having the Mirena IUD, I am scared that birth control may not be covered under my insurance in the future. Getting an IUD inserted without insurance can cost as much as $1,000. When I want to have a child, which I know I do, I will need to pay for the procedure to have the IUD removed. Then I will need to pay again to have the IUD reinserted, because not having the IUD is not an option for me, for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I have found it to be the most effective and convenient form of birth control I’ve ever been on. And since the responsibility of birth control is almost always on women, I’m going to choose the method of birth control that works best for my life.
Secondly, the Mirena IUD is the only form of birth control that hasn’t made me physically or mentally ill. I went on birth control for the first time when I was fourteen because my periods were so awful I missed school and on some occasions even ended up in the hospital. Side note: even though I was in constant pain from my periods for years, I was not diagnosed with endometriosis until I was 27. The medical field’s willingness to dismiss women’s pain and reproductive issues is a whole other story.
I have been on the pill, the patch, the Nuva Ring, and both types of IUD’s in my quest to find birth control that works for me and my body. The first birth control I went on was a high estrogen pill. Within weeks I experienced violent mood swings and became suicidal. As someone who already suffered from clinical depression, these symptoms could not be taken lightly and my birth control was switched. The Nuva Ring contributed to hormonal imbalances so severe that I was chronically ill for two years. On the Paraguard IUD, I spent 14 days every month, yes my period lasted 14 days every month, vomiting and writhing on the floor with abdominal pain so intense that I went to the hospital almost monthly. The Mirena IUD is the first form of birth control that didn’t make sick or suicidal.
Lastly, the Mirena IUD is the only form of birth control that has controlled my endometriosis symptoms. For almost two years I have been able to get through each month without taking time off work. I have been able to get through my period without vomiting. I haven’t been to the hospital because of period cramps. My chronic GI distress, which was misdiagnosed as IBS but which was really a side effect of the endometriosis, has subsided. I am healthy and relatively happy in my body for the first time maybe ever.
In a country run by Donald Trump and Mike Pence, I may not be able to afford the Mirena IUD. My life could return to being a constant battle with a chronic disease. My husband and I may have to change our plans for our future family. We had planned on only having one child, but if I don’t have control over my reproductive system that may have to change. My future and my family’s future is in the hands of two straight, white men who don’t believe I have the right to make decisions about my body.
I am a woman facing a future where my consent does not matter, where my voice does not matter, and where my body does not matter. Of course, I am afraid.
I am also scared because I identify as bisexual. As I have already stated, I am married to a man, so I am a straight passing queer. It has taken me a long time to recognize and claim my identity as a bisexual. When I started dating my husband five years ago after exclusively dating women for a few years I began to think of myself as a “hasbian” a pejorative term used for women who “used to be” lesbians. I began to truly believe that maybe it had just been a phase. Many of the people around me were quick to agree. I’d chosen the straight life, therefore I had probably just been “experimenting”.
It took me years to admit to myself and others that though I love my partner very much and eventually chose to marry him, I am still attracted to women. I started to read articles about bisexual erasure and realized that I had fallen in to erasing my own bisexual identity. And I allowed others to erase my bisexual identity. I allowed my sexual orientation to be defined by who I had married.
Slowly I began to own my bisexual identity, but only in quiet ways. In conversations I say my “ex girlfriend” instead of using gender neutral pronouns or just saying my ex. If it comes up, I talk openly about my experiences dating women. If someone straight up asks about my sexual orientation I say I am bisexual. But I am not loud and out about it. I have hidden in my straight passing status.
Today, as queer people all over the country fear for their lives, it would be much easier for me to continue to hide as a straight passing woman. I know that my straight passing status gives me privileges, even in a country run by Trump and Pence. My life will not be affected in the same ways. My marriage will not be threatened. My ability to adopt children will not be threatened. My ability to have legal parenthood of my partner’s children will not be threatened. My life will not be changed in the same ways. But it would be cowardly of me to address the hatred the LGBTQ community is facing as if it were only affecting my friends. It affects me too because I am a queer woman.
I have purposely not written about LGBTQ issues from a social justice perspective because I have been afraid to own my identity as a bisexual woman. I have been afraid of the judgement I might face from people I know and love. But as a writer I have to start writing about the way LGBTQ people are being treated across the country and the dangers of a Trump Pence presidency to their lives. To my life. And I need to start stepping up in my own queer community and taking action in my backyard. I cannot responsibly do that while erasing my own queer identity.
So, as a bisexual woman, I am afraid. Selfishly, I am a afraid of the judgement I may face for claiming my identity publicly. But I am more afraid of a Presidency that has talked about enacting legislation that will make it legal to discriminate against my queer community. I am more afraid of a country that will take away the legal rights of humans just for loving who they love.
Lastly, as a writer, I am afraid. Trump has been anything but quiet about his contempt for the media. He has repeatedly discussed legislation that would infringe upon the First Amendment. He wants to pass laws that would make it easier to sue publications and journalists for printing opposing viewpoints. Trump has also repeatedly threatened to sue publications and individual journalists, and has endlessly mocked reporters, including a disabled reporter. He does not hide his hate for writers who dare to criticize him and his ideas. Recently, a supporter at a Trump rally donned a shirt that suggested lynching journalists was the answer.
A Presidency where the First Amendment is under siege and journalists may not be protected by law is terrifying for a writer. Especially writers like me, who try their best to point out inequality and social injustice where they see it, which is everywhere with Trump and Pence. I know my voice is not yet large enough to be struck down by Trump and Pence, but I fear that legislation will be passed that will silence my developing voice.
When facing such fear of speaking up it would be much easier to stay quiet. I cannot. I have seen many social media posts about how giving in to anger means that Trump has won in more ways than one. But I am giving in to anger. It is time to be angry. It is time to raise our voices and scream. It is time to gather and loudly express the rage that this election season and result has brought.
The rage of the white lower class voters who have been ignored for so long was heard loud and clear early this morning. Men and women, mostly white, who have been ignored by the political system for years have made their voices heard by electing Donald Trump the next President of the United States. As much as I want to react to them with hatred, I know I need to listen. Their rage has brought this country to the place it is today. Their collective voice, screaming with the rage of being forgotten and ignored has been heard.
It is time for the rest of us to scream back. It is time for women to continue to scream that they will not be ignored. It is time for LGBTQ people to continue to scream that they will not be murdered and ignored. It is time for people of color to continue to scream that they will not be murdered and ignored.
But most importantly, it is time for straight white people, particularly straight white men, to start screaming. It is time for them to stop being complacent. It is time for them to stop thinking or saying “this doesn’t affect me”. It is time for them to join our collective scream of rage. It is time for them to stand up for us and say “we will not let this happen to our country.”
Because the truth is, the people who are most of afraid of a Trump Pence Presidency have been screaming for a long time. They have been silenced for a long time. They will continue to scream just as loudly and louder, but their voices will continue to be silenced. Their voices need to be amplified by those whose voices are given more space, which unfortunately means white men.
It is time for everyone to step up and find out what they can do to support communities of color, LGBTQ communities, and women.
No one should have to feel like I did this morning when I woke up to find out my recurring nightmare had become a reality.