Rethinking Allyship Under President Trump

Photo: Sara Keith

Photo: Sara Keith

Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.

It’s clear that liberals have spent a week in shock. Facebook and Twitter are in tears. Flights to Canada have been booked.

In the minds of these liberals, misogyny and racism have prevailed once again — they’ve come back from the depths of history to haunt us.

But I am filled with rage. I am not surprised. My ass is staying in the South and even if I wanted to leave, I couldn’t. Right now, y’all are being forced to reconcile your patriotism with reality. Y’all are just now being forced to deal with the horrors of America. But as marginalized people, we have been surviving — and dying from — these horrors for centuries. Y’all’ve just now decided to pay attention.

Donald Trump may be an out-and-proud misogynist, and chivalry may be dead, but y’all have benefited from it immensely. Perhaps until now, the notion that honorable men should protect and “honor” women largely kept y’all at a distance from the true nature of things. Men have never honored us.

 

Photo by Sara Keith

Photo by Sara Keith

It must be terrifying for you to just now get a glimpse of our reality.

As a queer transgender woman, growing up working class in the rural south, chivalry never protected me from violence and abuse. White, affluent, cisgender, heterosexual women may be horrified by Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” — but I’m not. From childhood I was on the frontlines of your worst fears.

Locker room talk and locker room violence defined my childhood.

When I was an eleven-year-old girl, an older boy sexually assaulted me in the boy’s locker room. I still remember the fear I felt when he pressed his penis against me — trapping me between a wall and a locker. Dozens of other boys laughed and cheered him on like it was a sick joke. I remember their jeers. When he stopped, they exchanged high-fives.

Even now, the abuse I received in locker rooms echoes how women and girls like me are still treated — utterly disposable. Where were the adults when I was beaten and bruised? Where were you? We didn’t show up last week, we’ve been in this from the beginning.

Trump’s election is not a comeback for misogyny, it is business as usual. Poor women, queer women, women of color, transgender women and otherwise marginalized women have borne the brunt of misogyny for time immemorial.

Our families are abusive. Our lovers are abusive. Victim services are abusive. Police are abusive. Doctors are abusive. We live in a society that perpetuates our oppression through clenched fists.

For us, misogyny is everyday violence, codified into a routine of oppression across all levels of society.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) 2015 report on intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ/HIV+ community, transgender survivors in general were three times more likely to report being stalked compared to cisgender survivors. Transgender women in particular were also three times more likely to experience sexual and financial violence than people who did not identify as trans women.

 

Photo by Sara Keith

Photo by Sara Keith

Misogyny is literally killing us.

For Black women, domestic violence/intimate partner violence is one of the leading causes of death for ages 15–35. The majority of transgender women murdered in 2016 have been trans women of color, and most of them were murdered by cisgender men.

We’re surviving and dying in a greater society and victim services complex that is fundamentally not designed to serve our needs. We are isolated and forced to fend for ourselves — we make do with the scraps left behind by our white, cisgender, heterosexual counterparts. Women of color are less likely to seek help when victimized, and according to the NCAVP, 44% LGBTQ/HIV+ survivors who attempted to access emergency shelter were denied. Nearly three-fourths attributed this to their gender identity.

White liberals, straight liberals, cis liberals: your newfound shock erases the stark history of misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and violence in our society. I’m more thankful for what we’ve built ourselves than your apologies. If you’ve just now decided to apologize you’ve ignored us for centuries.

This is an erasure of our lives and lived experiences.

The powerful have always brutalized our communities for. We have never been safe, and yes, while Trump’s presidency will surely bring new dangers and concerns — where were you when we were fighting to survive under Obama, Clinton, and every other president?

Our oppression is etched into the fabric that holds our society together, it doesn’t come and go with an election.

Donald Trump is not unique; our oppression transcends the hate of a single man. It’s time for you to address the structural violence plaguing our communities. Safety pins are not enough. It’s time for a radical rethinking of your allyship.

We need you to be louder than loud. We need you to be intolerant of intolerance and hateful of hate. We need action.

Our lives depend on it.


Lexi Chace is a queer trans woman activist and writer living in Atlanta. She’s broke and tired as hell. You can follow her at @leximch on Twitter.