One of the most gratifying aspects of having stepped fully and proudly into the light with Toby are the incredible connections we have both made with other amazing transgender teens and adults, and their equally incredible family members. Alex shared his thoughts here last week, today I am proud to post this piece by his mother, Chris.
Connections. They WILL keep us strong, and we WILL win in the end.
I have been a passionate Hillary supporter since at least 2007. I voted for her in the primary against Obama. Although really, I’ve been a fan since her book Living History came out in 2003. Before that, I was skeptical that she’d stay with a cheating husband for any reason that wasn’t political. The feminist in me was angry that she’d stay with a philanderer. But in her book, she talked about how hard the Monica scandal was for her, and how Bill was her best friend, and how she decided to get past the hurt to keep her marriage together. I deeply respected that, her ability to put her own hurt aside, to get over it, to keep her marriage and family together.
As soon as the 2012 election was over – the night of the election in fact – I was excited for a Hillary 2016 campaign. In the three years after 2012, I read more of her books, I read articles, I read about her amazing tenure as Senator and Secretary of State, I read about the scandals and how they were mostly made up bullshit. For example, did you know that the Arkansas state troopers that Bill allegedly paid to bring him women to his hotel room recanted that allegation? They were paid by Republicans to say that, and the “journalist” that reported the story also recanted and said he was paid by Republicans to report the story. Of course the original story was page 1 on every publication across the country while the truth was buried deep in the middle of those same publications.
Hillary believes many of the same things I believe. That strong women make strong families. That women deserve complete equality, especially equal pay. She co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter act and co-chaired a Senate committee to close the pay gap for women. She also believes in strong children, in access to good child care for all families, and for affordability and access to college for all who want to attend. The list goes on and I won’t bore you with all that Hillary believes.
But I will tell you about the one that most closely touches me. She is a strong, and passionate supporter of LGBTQIA rights. She was one of the first prominent politicians to come out in support of marriage equality. She enforced stronger rules in the State Department against LGBTQIA discrimination. In the Senate, she championed legislation to address hate crimes, fought for federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQIA people, and fought to end the restrictions to adoption for LGBTQIA people.
As the mother of a trans son, I not only wanted Hillary, I NEEDED Hillary!
As the election heated up and Trump became the GOP nominee, that need was even greater. Trump proved time and time again that he had no respect for women, had no respect for people of color, had no respect for people with any religious beliefs, had no respect for people with disabilities, and had no respect for LGBTQIA.
His biggest proof of that was in picking Mike Pence as his running mate. I’m from Indiana, and I worked at Mike Pence’s alma mater for 7 years so believe me when I say that I know a thing or two about Mike Pence. This is the man who signed legislation legalizing discrimination. This is the man who wanted to cut off funding for HIV/AIDS support unless it came with equal funding for dangerous conversion therapy. This is the man who cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, causing many in rural areas to close. Which lead to a massive HIV/AIDS outbreak in a small town 20 minutes from my hometown. He signed legislation that forces women to have burials after emotionally wrenching miscarriages. He supports North Carolina’s dangerous bathroom bill. He cost Indiana millions in revenue with his dangerous hateful policies. When he was a radio host and an Indiana congressman he said that tobacco didn’t cause lung cancer. (While he was taking money from the tobacco lobby.)
Of course, Hillary haters abounded. There were false stories about her filling up my Facebook feed from both Republicans and liberal Bernie supporters. The Benghazi stuff was complete bullshit. It was tragic, but not Hillary’s FAULT. I say that, because of course as Secretary of State it was her responsibility. But not her fault. The email stuff was disappointing because it was avoidable, but it wasn’t nefarious. The secretive stuff was completely understandable considering the way she has been pilloried over the years. Anyone remember the shit she got for wearing headbands? What about scrunchies? And that’s just her hair. Everything she said was wrong for some section of people. Didn’t want to stay home and bake cookies? OMG burn her at the stake! Wanted to have an active role in her husbands administration (because let’s face it, at that point she had the more impressive resume)? OMG burn her at the stake! She’s a witch, she’s a bitch, she’s a nasty woman, she’s power-hungry, she’s a murderer, she’s a thief, she’s aggressive, she’s a patsy, she’s ugly, she can’t satisfy her husband, she defends rapists, she has terrible hair…. the list goes on and on. And with each new accusation (or tired old accusation), all reasonable journalism found them to be complete bullshit.
But of course there’s nothing reasonable about journalism in the 24-hour news cycle, Fox News, Breitbart, The Blaze, anyone with the internet and a conspiracy theory world that we live in. So the onslaught continued unabated. And the “reasonable” media tried to be unbiased by selling us a theory of two bad candidates, of a Hillary that people were voting for while holding their noses. Again, Facebook was full of the memes.
So needless to say, by the time the election came around, I was excited, enthusiastic, exuberant, to cast my vote for Hillary, to make history with the first female president, a president who shared my experiences, my hopes, and my dreams. I got up early on Tuesday, put on my pantsuit, and voted for Hillary.
Tuesday afternoon, we drove into Manhattan to attend the Hillary results party. We stood outside with thousands of people while more thousands were inside. We watched the results, booing when Trump was up, cheering when Hillary was up.
By 8 p.m., it was clear that this was going to be a long night. It wasn’t the easy victory we dreamed of. So we decided to drive home and finish the night from the comfort of our own couch. The drive home, the news got progressively worse. NPR was talking more and more of a Trump path to victory. By the time we got home, we were so worried we took Xanax and went to bed.
I made the supreme mistake of checking results in the middle of the night, only to have my world fall in on me. After that, as much as I tried, there wasn’t much sleep. I got up Wednesday morning to a country where 1/4 of the population said resoundingly that they hated me and they hated my son.
To say I was angry is a supreme understatement. I’m angry at the media for their false narratives, for their unrelenting drive for ratings over truth. I’m angry at the non-voters for their apathetic non-participation in a decision that could have life and death consequences for my family. I’m angry at the third party voters, who couldn’t in good conscious vote for the Cheetos, but wouldn’t do what they needed to ensure he wouldn’t win – vote for Hillary. And I’m furious with Republicans. With their chickenshit inability to stand up to Trump in the primaries. With their chickenshit inability to proclaim that he didn’t stand for their values and beliefs. They were too interested in exploiting his voters for re-election to stand up to his bullying. And I’m furious with Evangelicals, who for years have shoved their hypocritical family values bullshit down our throats, proclaiming to anyone who would listen how they voted based on their religious beliefs. Only to vote for the thrice married, cheating, raping, non-Christian anti-Christ when given the opportunity. Never again will they have any credibility, or any respect.
To say that I’m heart-broken is an understatement. I’m devastated, hurt, I spent all of yesterday in tears. This isn’t about Hillary’s loss. I’m an adult and I can take a loss. Instead, it’s about the statement my country made. They said loud and clear that they hate me, a strong, independent, outspoken woman. And they said even louder, they shouted from the rooftops that they hate my baby. They want him to go back in the closet. They want him to stop insisting he has human dignity and rights. They want him to go to conversion therapy to pray the gay away. They want him to commit suicide. They think it would be a better choice than him being true to who he is.
To say that I’m scared of the next 4 years is an understatement. I’m terrified. Of course I know the first thing that’s going to happen. A Republican House and Senate and President are going to repeal Obamacare. That means that my son is going to lose health insurance because it’s Obamacare that forces insurance companies to let kids under 26 stay on their parents policies. Thank God we had his surgery when we did. Hopefully we can afford his hormone therapy out of pocket.
After that, it’s not hard to guess. They’re going to do everything possible to overturn marriage equality. They’re going to do everything possible to pass federal bathroom bills. They’re going to do everything possible to legalize discrimination. We don’t move back to Indiana in part because of the anti-LGBTQIA policies of the Pence administration. Now, there’s nowhere safe. Nowhere where my precious baby can just be himself. Nowhere where my precious baby can pee without threat of violence. Nowhere where my baby can go without looking over his shoulder.
And they’re going to do everything possible to overturn Roe V. Wade. They’re going to insist on their non-scientific bullshit like a woman’s body has a way to “shut that stuff down” and not get pregnant when raped. And that women who choose abortion are promiscuous sluts who get pregnant over and over and have multiple abortions because they’re too lazy and slutty to use birth control. And that the life of a fetus has more rights, more right to stay alive, than the life of a woman, even if she’s threatened with death.
And of course they’re going to continue their war on the poor. Everyone should have babies, but after they’re born, fuck ’em. They should work harder, suck less, and not be poor. God only chooses good people to be rich, and if you’re a bad person, God makes you poor.
And let’s not forget the war on the environment. The Cheetos first act will be to appoint an EPA head who thinks climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government.
So how do I go on? What’s next? I spent most of yesterday asking myself that. How do I go on in a country I no longer trust? A country I am no longer proud to be a citizen? And most importantly, how do I keep the most precious person in my life safe in a country that wishes he were dead? I spent most of yesterday staring off into space, in tears, almost catatonic, wracking my brain about what comes next. I fought off the urge to go curl up in a ball, hiding under my bed. I looked up how to get jobs in Europe, Canada, Dubai, anywhere but here. I want to swoop up my baby in my arms and spirit him off to a safe place.
Over the course of the day, the answer came to me. Hillary’s concession speech urged me not to give up, to keep fighting for women’s rights. An email from the Human Rights Campaign urged me to not give up, to keep fighting for LGBTQIA rights. An email from Planned Parenthood urged me to not give up, to keep fighting for women’s right to choose. An email from Cory Booker urged me to not give up, to keep fighting for the rights of people of color and the incarcerated. A blog post by another trans mom urged me to keep fighting with her for our kids. But most importantly, a Facebook post by my beautiful, strong, amazing son said to the marginalized “I won’t give up on you, I’ve got your back.”
So I’m fighting back. I’m standing strong. I’m making my voice even louder. I’m saying to my fellow citizens that they can’t silence me. They can’t push my son back into hiding. They can’t get away with pushing my country back to a place where only white straight men matter. They will not get away with treating me and my sisters as pieces of ass.
I’m committing to volunteering with LGBTQIA, especially trans groups. My precious baby has me, his fierce, overprotective mother. But so many kids are rejected by their selfish parents. They need fierce protection even more. They need to know that they matter. That they have worth. That they are allowed to be true to themselves, and that people will love them no matter what.
I hope you, my friends, commit to fighting on too. I hope you find a cause that you passionately believe needs your strength, your protection, and you jump in with both feet and all heart to fight on. Especially now, we can’t give up, and give in to despair.
We fight on!