Reflection on the Election

The morning after the most heartbreaking and fearful election results I could have imagined, I was sitting on the bus to go to my Human Rights and the Politics of Culture seminar. I was listening to "Try" by P!nk on repeat in an attempt to convince myself to keep fighting. 

"Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try"

A mom and her baby came on the bus. The baby was bundled up in a fuzzy pink blanket and was sound asleep. I became filled with the emotions I had been pushing aside to embrace numbness. I was jealous of this infant because I would give anything to just be wrapped up in a cozy blanket, warm and comfortable, with no idea about all the hate in the world. I felt hopeful because children are supposed to give us hope for the future, right? I was scared for what is in store for this innocent little baby and every other human whose future has been harmed by a single presidential election. A Boyce Avenue cover of Wake Me Up comes on. 

"Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start
They tell me I'm too young to understand
They say I'm caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes
Well that's fine by me
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost"

My mind is racing as I try to process this election. I am trans. I am queer. I am a survivor of sexual violence. I have had an abortion. I have struggled with mental illness. These shape a significant part of who I am. They determine who I love, where I go to the bathroom, the kind of healthcare I'm able to seek, how I'm perceived by others, and so much more that I don't have the time or energy to list out in this moment. In this moment, the most salient thing they determine is my humanity because according to the election, I don't deserve humanity, I deserve hatred. And I have it pretty well off because, as I said in a Facebook status, I'm white, English is my native language, I'm educated, I come from a comfortable economic background, and I'm currently living outside the U.S. I wish I knew what to say to my friends who are US immigrants, POC, disabled, working class, etc. other than I love you and I will continue to stand in solidarity with you.

Rachel Platten's Fight Song comes on. 

"This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me"

I have reservations about Hillary Clinton. I recognize how harmful she is to so many people, particularly in the middle east. But I voted for her. Part of me feels like a sell-out. Part of me feels like I betrayed my values. Part of me feels like I hurt everyone who her policies would have hurt. But I voted for her for a couple of reasons. One, while I hate the idea of picking the lesser of two evils, I felt like that's what I had to do to protect the little hope that we had particularly because I'm registered in Pennsylvania, a key swing state. Two, I was selfish and thought that her policies would protect the parts of my identity that are now in danger. I was putting my own needs above the needs of other. In some ways I'm able to rationalize that as self-care, in other ways I feel like a hypocrite who is willing to advance some rights at the expense of others, something I normally advocate against. 

But regardless, the person who I staunchly believe is a horrendous human being won. 

Racism won.

Sexism won.

Transphobia won.

Xenophobia won. 

Ableism won. 

Classism won. 

Homophobia won.

Hatred won. 

While this inhumane rhetoric won the election, it does not win the bigger picture. We will still fight like hell (probably harder) for justice and revolution. We will still fight like hell for our lives and our rights. I will still fight even when I feel like I can't move on. 

Somebody Loves you by Betty Who starts to play as I walk from the bus to the building where I'll spend the next 3 hours trying to focus but wanting to do nothing but cry. 

"Who’s around when the days feel long
Who’s around when you can’t be strong
Who’s around when you’re losing your mind
Who cares that you get home safe
Who knows you can’t be replaced
Who thinks that you’re one of a kind" 

Instead of engaging in the discussion on indigenous rights in class, all I can think about is how badly I want to be back at Bucknell because there are so many people there who love and care about me and who I love and care about. I'm starting to gain a similar support system here in the UK but I've been here for just under 2 months. It took me 4 years to build up the incredible network of love that I had at Bucknell. Today was the first time I felt homesick. I miss being able to walk into numerous professors' offices to just sit in silence, cry, laugh, talk or get a hug.  I miss my Common Ground, Fran's House, and GSA families. I stepped outside during class, went to the bathroom and cried because I didn't know what else to do. Towards the end of class, there were moments of laughter and smiling after a friendly debate and for a few minutes I forgot about everything bad in the world. 

After what felt like the longest 3 hours of my life, I make my way from class to the Students' Union for work. This is the first thing I've looked forward to all day. In the few weeks I've been working for the Students' Union I've grown to love the people and work environment. It's filled with like-minded, supportive people. I'm greeted by my incredible colleagues who genuinely care about me and wanted to be there to support me in this heartbreaking time for America. We go out for Doomsday Drinks at the end of the day. 

I made the bus ride home in silence, thinking about everything a Trump presidency means. I thought about the pain I felt when I didn't have the support of my family after coming out and realize I'm feeling a similar pain after this election. I thought about how agonizing it's going to be to spend the next four years seeing Trump, someone who has glorified and likely committed sexual assault, as the leader of my home country, reminding me of my own perpetrators. I thought about how all the progress we've made for queer and trans people will deteriorate, directly harming me and many of the people I love. I thought about how I'm not going to feel safe going home and as a result won't see many of the people I love for the next four years. I thought about the people who I grew up with, the people who I used to consider my close friends, who voted for Trump, who voted against my humanity. I thought about the death threat I received my junior year in college that told me and the "other shithead trannys" to die and realized that is in essence exactly what half the country just said by casting a ballot for Trump.

Now, I'm sitting in bed, trying to force myself to get my reading done for class tomorrow morning. The topic this week: gender violence in war and peace. I'll let you interpret that how you like. 

Donald Trump, a bigoted, hateful human, is going to be President of the United States. I am hurt. I am tired. I am scared. But I will fight back however I can.