How the Current Political Climate Affects My Mental Health as a Transgender Man
The year 2017 has been a whirlwind for politics, and I often get asked by family and friends why I pay so much attention to the political sphere when it so negatively affects me. Let me explain a bit. I am a gay transgender man in the United States, who lives in a conservative rural area in the Midwest. I also have major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fibromyalgia and something new; persistent, never ending anxiety attacks.
The current political climate, to me, sometimes feels like a two-fold attack on my right to exist. On the one hand, we have our president trying to destroy our healthcare system by slashing funding for advertising Obamacare and repeatedly attacking Medicare and Medicaid, which is what gets me all the medical care I need to even be a somewhat functional human being.
On the other hand… we have the homophobia and transphobia that the political far right seem to love to fall back on over and over again. This is what I want to talk about because it’s important. Yes, we finally had a win when the USA legalized same sex marriage a few years ago (a fine bravo to Australia as well) but there is so much more to LGBT rights than this one issue.
In 2017, President Donald Trump announced that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the United States military in any capacity. As a transgender person, this shocked me. It shocked me because the U.S. military is the largest employer of transgender people in the United States. It shocked me because I had thought that as a nation we had moved passed this.
Then, I began noticing how this climate of hatred was affecting my trans brothers and sisters, especially those who are of color. There have been 27 murders so far this year of transgender people. People of color have disproportionately been the victims of these attacks. One of which happened in my state, not too far from where I live. In support groups that I am a part of, people discuss how they are afraid to date. They are afraid to leave their homes alone.
I am afraid. Before Donald Trump became president, I never had problems with anxiety. Now I cannot function without medications to control my anxiety because it is never ending. I started waking up every morning with panic attacks. I started having nightmares. Fear was something I never thought I would have to seriously deal with because I live in the United States and we are better than this. Right?
But I see politicians actively attacking transgender rights and transgender people, even one who proudly called himself a “cheif homophobe” who refused to debate with a transgender political rival. High-ranking media personalities frequently make us the butt end of jokes, obsess over what our genitals look like or insist that we are simply confused/ignorant despite the current medical science indicating differently. The department of Justice has enacted new religious liberty guidelines that say as long as a person has a religious reason for doing so, they can discriminate against LGBT people.
My depression is the worst it has been since high school. I am falling apart at the seams even with my medications because I just no longer feel safe. I no longer feel like I am an American. I will be honest when I say that if I could leave, I would. However, it is nearly impossible to immigrate or even gain refugee status as a disabled person. No country wants me, not even the one I am a citizen of. I’m on my own. And I am afraid. Not just for myself, but for the integrity of the nation that I used to love and call my home.
Politics don’t interest me. They just won’t leave me alone.
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Thinkstock photo via nito100