How I Feel as a Queer Disabled Person Not Knowing Who Won the Election
This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.
I write this at my computer on Friday evening, and still there’s no official confirmation of who the next President of the United States will be. This past year itself has given the world unprecedented challenges in so many ways. Though my generation has made the best of it through memes, TikToks and more, there is plenty of cause for serious concern at the same sense, especially for members of marginalized groups like myself.
In the process of the past few months, I’ve had to distance myself from family members and former friends. There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding about politics and human rights. How many times have we heard, “You should be able to be friends with people who have different political beliefs than you”? I’ll be frank. How can I even consider someone who doesn’t believe I deserve the same rights as they have to be in my inner circle of friends?
Equality should never be up for discussion.
In the often quoted words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Now is not the time for neutrality. Now is the time to voice your concerns for yourself, your loved ones and your community.
I feel so angry and afraid that it’s nearly the end of 2020 and still many like myself are not fully protected by national law.
I’m a disabled, nonbinary lesbian journalist. Though I dress masculinely, I do not specifically identify as male or female in gender, and I’m attracted exclusively to women. I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS as well as Ehlers-Danlos Type 3 and 6. Every day I bear up front witness to the injustices offered to millions of Americans as a kind of poor substitute for true equality.
Recently, I got engaged to my partner who is also a lesbian, and we have high hopes of being able to have a wedding to celebrate the start of our marriage. Just five years ago, we would not have had the opportunity at a national level to do such a union. Even now there are very active politicians who would jump at the opportunity to strip us of that right.
There are members of my own family who do not see my identity much less my upcoming marriage as something “real” or “valid,” despite its current protection under law. The polarization of politics are dividing families right and left, simply because this current leadership does not see LGBTQ Americans as human.
Under the current administration’s leadership, I’ve watched as President Trump has systemically stripped LGBTQ people of their rights, and I’m terrified of what this could mean should the tables not turn in this election.
President Donald Trump struck data collection regarding sexual orientation and gender identity from the 2020 census, impacting thousands of people across the nation by attempting to erase their identity at a national level. He granted Attorney General Jeff Sessions permission by executive order to discriminate in national agencies against LGBTQ individuals and women. He proposed unprecedented cuts to AIDS program funding. He allowed Secretary Ben Carson to delay and/or deny LGBTQ Americans shelter. He allowed the Department of Justice to argue that transgender Americans are not protected by Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination at a national level, and so many more hits against my community.
Within the Supreme Court, there have been ample opportunities for Supreme Court nominees Kavanaugh and Barrett to speak up on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and they not only chose not to do so but have spoken out against the community from their position in the court and in their careers prior to their nomination.
In addition, the Affordable Care Act continues to be a point of political contention to the degree that many are concerned that they will no longer have access to insurance that they need should the legislation go away. So far, the ACA has prevented individuals with preexisting conditions to be discriminated against — this means anyone who is a cancer survivor, someone with asthma, individuals with diabetes, etc. Should the courts rule against it, up to 21 million Americans could lose their health insurance… in the middle of a global pandemic.
Disabled Americans have poverty rates twice the rate of those who are able bodied and often experience more mental health hardships which can further impact their physical well-being and ability to maintain a stable job. Republicans proposing cuts to programs that provide for disabled Americans have struck fear into the hearts of many for so long.
The mental panic I have gone through in these past few weeks alone is profound, but I’m comforted in the knowledge that I am far from alone.
Thousands like myself and my fiancée are willing to fight for justice, for equality and for protections not just for ourselves but for other marginalized people in similar situations.
Though I am afraid of what the future holds for many reasons, I recognize that regardless of what happens, marginalized Americans will not lower their voices. There will always be a need for protests, for the furtherance of equality for all, and truly, the fight will never be over, no matter how much I wish it would be. There will always be more laws to change, more legislation to pass, and more protections to be put in place. There will always be family members to educate, to teach compassion and empathy too, no matter how much I wish they would just naturally understand my existence.
Whatever the outcome of this election, I promise you I refuse to give up the fight.