I Sit and Wait for My Trans Friends to Die in Trump’s America
Illustration by Shelby Hohl
“I haven’t lost anyone close, but each case of murder or suicide fuels a dark fear I have regarding my trans child. As a parent it’s up there in the ‘worst fear’ category.”
Let me set the scene…
It’s election night, and our honorable and venerable founder Omar has asked me if I will live tweet the election on behalf of Free Press Houston. I took the job, assuming that Florida would be called for Clinton around 8 p.m. Houston-time and we’d all be in bed dreaming of a world with taco trucks on every corner by midnight. That did not happen. It didn’t happen so hard that I’m not convinced an alternate dimension didn’t cum in my mouth and sneak out the window while I was brushing my teeth.
So, the wife and I went to bed around 2 a.m., dazed like cats that had fallen asleep in the dryer and ended up in a fluff cycle. She’s a NICU nurse, and her mutant power is falling asleep whenever the opportunity presents itself, but I tossed and turned until I gave up and sat at the dining room table watching Facebook unfold in the aftermath of Trump’s win.
Here’s what I remember. I remember watching one, then two, then three, and then four trans friends post. Each one had the same theme: I might as well kill myself. Each one explained they’d tried in the past, and that they’d had such hope born of the last eight years, but the evidence was clear. America would be happier if they were dead.
“I have a trans friend who has confided in me that she has at multiple times wanted to cut her own penis off…. knowing it would likely kill her, because she hates her body that much. She lives in an area where trans people are not accepted, and has lost multiple jobs for ‘dressing like a girl.’ I cannot fathom her future.”
I found out the next day, as my family was baking cheese cookies to take our mind off the Orange Lantern’s ascension to power, that another friend of mine, who monitors a trans parenting group on Facebook, had seen at least two members affiliated with the group kill themselves in response to the election returns. I cannot stress this enough. Donald Trump’s win made me sad and angry. To some trans people, his win made them leave the Earth as living people.
November 20 was International Day of Trans Remembrance. I’ve been writing about trans issues for so long I can cite the statistics by heart. They’re more likely to be murdered, more likely to endure domestic abuse, more likely to wind up in sex work because they can’t find any other occupation, and more likely to endure medical discrimination that could easily kill them. Don’t click on that link if you plan on having a good day. I semi-retired from investigative journalism over writing it, and I still can’t read it without crying.
Not long after the first trans piece I’d written for Houston journalism came out I was approached by OutSmart for a possible story. They wanted me to look into a number of trans people who had been fished out of the bayous here, possibly as murder victims. They had some leads if I was interested.
I ran screaming from that story like it was that truck in the “Enter Sandman” video. I have that privilege.
“This is an open carry state and the open carry fandom can deny it all they want, but the fact is that a Venn diagram of ‘people who want to carry loaded guns into public places for no reason’ and ‘potentially violent homophobic/transphobic shitlords’ might not be a perfect circle, but it still has an unacceptably huge area of overlap.
“I’ve already been avoiding public restrooms even if there are 30.06/30.07 signs up, because no matter which gendered restroom I go in, someone’s going to think it’s the wrong one. And if that person is part of that overlap, I’m dead.”
There is no phrase I have come to detest more than “agree to disagree.” That’s the sort of thing we do when we can’t decide if Casino is a better film than Goodfellas (it’s not). When it comes to ushering in the next incarnation of America, though, there are simply things that are not polite differences of opinion. This is a country that actively rejects groups of people, and trans folks get it worse than most. We as a society have made it very clear in this last election that their lives are not nearly as important as our feelings.
International Day of Trans Remembrance is a reminder that our opinions beget actions, like votes, and that those actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are deadly, and we end up with blood on our hands. What we say, do and support shapes the world, and if we’re not careful the world we shape will be a death trap for those not like us.
Just keep it in mind for the future, okay? Your vote against the establishment may also be a vote for casual genocide, whether you realize it or not. If you want to help, or at least mitigate some of the damage your vote might have did, the Trevor Project is a good place to start.
“I will admit that the day after the election that I wept openly in my car in the parking lot of my job and seriously considered suicide, for the first time in a decade. I do know that several trans kids killed themselves after the election.
I was in a really bad place thinking about the possibilities of losing more rights, hate crimes, dealing with my parents’ very unconcerned attitude about my fear, thinking about having to flee the country (and am still getting my passport and CHL this year) but I think I’m in a better state of mind currently.
I am planning to stay and fight, unless things really do go to complete shit — but there was a lot of fear and despair.”
by Jef Rouner