Dear Trump Supporters Who Claim To Support Me And The LGBTQ+ Community
Can we talk? Okay, I know, starting with that puts you on the defensive. I am sorry, because I really want to have a conversation and figure out how I can help you better understand what I’m about to get into. But I’m also going to be honest. While I’m trying to write this calmly, there’s going to be a lot of anger seeping through. Gay rights is an intensely personal issue for me.
Maybe it’s a more casual issue for you. I’m guessing you might know a gay person or two. Maybe your cousin. Your aunt. Your nephew. Maybe your barber. Maybe for a few of you… me. You’re an ally. Go gays. Those folks you know are great. Gay rights! But I need to ask: Do you actually care about our rights? Our safety? Our well-being?
If you don’t, I need you to look us in the eye and be honest about that. And if you do, we need to have this talk.
Because the Trump administration, on June 12th, in the middle of Pride Month, and on the 4th anniversary of the Pulse shooting — the deadliest single act of violence against the LGBTQ+ community in this country — announced that it had officially rolled back protections put in place to ensure transgender people cannot be discriminated against or turned away by healthcare providers.
I write for a living, and I’m struggling to come up with the right words to convey how reprehensibly vicious, cruel, painful, and disgusting this is.
It’s a punch in the gut when we should be celebrating our existence and honoring those we lost. It’s a, “Fuck you and all like you. It’s not just that we don’t care if you live or die, we also want to drive that point in to you as deeply as possible at a time that’s meaningful to you.”
I don’t know how much you noticed or remember the Pulse shooting. I can’t speak to how aware you were of the collective trauma in the LGBTQ+ community. The crushing grief we felt as we gathered for memorials. The fear and anxiety working through us afterwards at Pride. The nightmares we’d wake up from in the middle of the night. But our bars and clubs are safe spaces for us. Spaces where we don’t have to worry about the danger of being ourselves.
At Pulse, that space was invaded and turned into a bloodbath. 49 people were murdered — on Latin Night, no less. They were gunned down on an evening that was supposed to provide a further safe space for the Latinx community to gather. Make no mistake, in the gay world, just as in the rest of the world, the greater a person’s intersectionality, the further a person gets from whiteness, the more vulnerable they are and the more discrimination they face.
So to have Trump and his administration invade Pride Month, invade the memory of these human beings who were murdered, of our sense of safety being ripped away so that they can attack another vulnerable part of our community? So they can rip away this small bit of safety the transgender community was afforded by the previous administration? That is nauseating.
Why is it necessary to tell any class of people, “No, you don’t have the right to be treated with dignity, or, hell, treated at all?” Why was it necessary to do it on that day? In this month? This was not accidental. This was not coincidental.
And now we get to the tricky part of this. You support this president. You support the people he’s put into power. Why? Is it because, when it comes down to it, all these “gay things” don’t directly affect you?
Is it because he’s done stuff to directly help you? May I ask what? Because I’m happy to talk economic policy and dive into the weeds of research and statistics over what he’s actually done and how much it’s helped or not helped people. I’m happy to explain why I vote for the people who I believe won’t just protect my community, but will do everything they can to help you and protect everyone.
And if you can’t directly name something that’s helped you, what is it that makes you support him? Is that “fuck you and all like you” attitude appealing to you?
Should we get into the damage he’s done in eroding trust in crucial institutions and the expertise that should be guiding us? Can we talk about the harm he’s done to people of color and, specifically, black and brown people? Is it refreshing how he has so much trouble condemning white supremacists but has no problem referring to black people as thugs?
Are we venturing too far into Black Lives Matter now for comfort? Well, BLM and LGBTQ+ rights are intertwined, and since we’re talking about protections for transgender people, we might as well dive into a talk about how dangerous it is in this country to be a black transgender woman.
In fact, two black trans women, Dominique Fells and Riah Milton, were murdered just within the last couple days. Dominique’s body was brutalized in ways that go beyond simple murder and into pure, vicious hate. You should know that the overwhelming number of transgender folks murdered are black women of color. You should understand that the more intersecting identities you have, the more dangerous it becomes to just try living your life in this country.
Has the president addressed this at all? Has he done anything to address the fact that LGBTQ+ hate crimes have been rising for the past few years? Or is that not part of his “law and order” platform? Is it law and order just for straight white people? Is that what makes him worth supporting?
Plus, I’m gonna let you in on a secret. The real hate crime numbers are likely much higher than what’s reported. Cops have, traditionally, not been friends to queer folks. We’ve been ignored, harassed, laughed at, sexually abused.
I’m telling you this as a cisgender white gay man who comes about as close to conforming to what the straight white world is “comfortable” with as it gets. I mean, just take a look at my profile pic. It pretty much screams privilege. But we don’t always feel comfortable or safe going to the police, especially when it has anything to do with our sexuality.
So if the idea of going to the cops made me panic, how do you think LGBTQ+ folks of color, the ones who are much more likely to experience violence, discrimination, and hate would feel going to them? Do you think the number of reported attacks are anywhere near the real world number? Because they’re not.
And yes, having an administration that has made it clear that protecting us from discrimination and abuse is not a priority absolutely makes the thought of dealing with the authorities more daunting. And having an administration that has gone out of its way to roll back protections makes it even worse.
GLAAD’s compiled a handy, extensive list of all the ways President Trump and those he’s put in power have pushed back against us. It’s a mix of substantial policy changes and smaller slights that add up to an attempt to erase, ignore and reverse the progress made in protecting and acknowledging the community. It also gives people all over the country the cover to embrace their own hatred and ignorance.
Did you visit the official White House web page when it linked visitors to an article calling being transgender a “psychological disorder” — something the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association had dropped years before? Did you happen to read that article that claimed that this “disorder” was the result of anxiety and depression, instead of anxiety and depression coming about due to the stress of being transgender in a world where your own government seems to revile you?
Did you know the Trump administration went out of its way to ensure that the Pride flag wasn’t being permanently flown on federal land? Even though that federal land was the Stonewall National Monument? That’s the monument commemorating the Stonewall riots, the uprising that’s celebrated as the start of the modern gay rights movement. While the flag does fly at Stonewall, it is, technically, flown on a flagpole that’s not on federal land. Petty, but apparently an important enough issue to illicit over 900 pages of e-mails from the Trump Interior Department.
And did you know that the LGBTQ+ community is currently waiting to learn whether or not the Supreme Court agrees with the Trump Justice Department’s claim that our jobs are not, in fact, legally protected from discrimination, and that we can be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bi, trans? Do you think that’s a good feeling? Is that something you support? Because the Trump administration has made arguing against that protection a priority. [Edit: Less than a day after publishing this, the Supreme Court returned with a verdict declaring the Trump administration’s argument invalid. Our jobs are, indeed, legally protected.]
Sometimes, those legal protections are all we have to provide us with safety and dignity. And this is especially true in the trans community, which President Trump and his people have gone out of their way to attack. Do you know why the Obama administration felt the need to specifically protect their healthcare rights?
Have you ever heard of Tyra Hunter? She was a black trans woman who died after a car accident. If the EMTs who picked her up and the hospital she was taken to had done their job, the odds of survival were overwhelmingly in her favor. Instead they insulted her, refused help, and effectively killed her.
Did you ever hear the story of Robert Eads? He was a trans man who was denied treatment for ovarian cancer by so many doctors that by the time he found someone who would help — over two dozen doctors later — it was too late to save him.
Yes, both of those cases were over 20 years ago, but those traumatic incidents are not so easily forgotten, nor are they crazy outliers. Seeking medical help is still a frightening prospect to too many transgender people who’ve experienced harassment, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault, and refusal of treatment. Sometimes the patients have to correct their doctors on harmful misinformation.
Do you get nervous about calling the doctor? Imagine magnifying that to the point where you’re scared for your own safety. Imagine if someone who is supposed to help you no matter what was, essentially, told by the government that there would be zero repercussions for treating you with disgust and abuse. That is not a hypothetical. That is reality.
Now, let’s go back to those questions I asked about how much you cared at beginning of this piece. Because if you’ve read all this and your thought is, “Yes, I do want to support your rights, your safety, and your dignity,” then that’s great. We’ve got an election this year. Do some research into candidates you didn’t think you’d want to support, and see if you can learn how they’re willing to not only defend us, but also help you. Look past Trump and Trumpism.
If you’ve read all this and you’re still struggling with understanding the concept of being transgender, that’s fine. Admitting what we don’t understand is important. There’s tons of ways to educate yourself out there. Hell, even just watching Supergirl could be a start.
The show has an openly trans superhero played by an openly trans actress — Nicole Maines, who’s been fighting for transgender rights since she was a teenager — and they even shot a fantastic episode tackling trans violence back in March. It’s lighter fare, but maybe it’s okay to start out light.
Plus, there are tons of young folks on YouTube who would love to help you understand. For instance, there’s Jamie Raines — Jammidodger — who’s documented his transition, shared nearly every part of his journey and answers pretty much any question you could ever have.
Or if you’re ready for an advanced class on intersectionality, there’s Kat Blaque. She gets into some difficult topics — politics, history, privilege, advice, and her own experiences as a black trans woman.
Or just start searching YouTube. Or Google. I hate to say it, but you have to go out of your way these days to remain ignorant. Anything you could ever want to know is right at your fingertips.
Now, if, in the end, you’ve read all this and you’ve decided, “Oh well, actually supporting gay people is just not worth it,” that is totally fine. But know exactly who and what you are supporting, look us in the eye and own it. You do not get the convenience of ignorance. You do not get the excuse of, “Yes, but…”
President Trump and his administration have been eroding our sense of security, our legal protections, and our very existence from the first few minutes of entering office. That was when all mention of the LGBTQ+ community was removed from the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor websites.
There are people whose lives hang in the balance on this, and if you want to support Trump, someone whose actions and policies do them harm, then from now on, that’s going to have to be a conscious choice.