As a queer woman, I can’t concentrate on classes knowing Trump is president

I’m lucky to be in a highly liberal school in a highly liberal state

I woke up Wednesday morning when my alarm went off at 8:30, telling me it was time to get dressed and get ready to go to precalculus, just like it does every Wednesday morning. Except this morning, Donald Trump winning the presidency was a reality.

Donald Trump, a man who has denounced the lives of immigrants, people of color, Muslims, people with disabilities, women, and members of the LGBT+ community is meant to represent so many people he has no respect for, including myself as I am a female member of the LGBT+ community.

My friends and I getting ready to go protest President-elect Donald Trump in downtown Santa Cruz.

My friends and I getting ready to go protest President-elect Donald Trump in downtown Santa Cruz.

So how am I supposed to go to math class and pay attention when I could be out protesting and comforting those who are afraid for their safety of their rights and lives? When I am afraid for the safety of my rights as a queer woman?

Donald Trump said he would “strongly consider” appointing a Supreme Court justice with the intention of reversing the decision to legalize same-sex marriage. He has said he rescind Obama’s administration of leading the way allowing transgender students to use the bathroom according to their preferred gender.

Mike Pence, the newly elected Vice President, signed a bill allowing discrimination against LGBT+ people under “religious freedom.” He supports the diversion of tax dollars to conversion camps, violent therapy that attempts to change a person’s sexual and/or gender orientation.

And they were elected President and Vice President of the United States.

Protesters in downtown Santa Cruz.

Protesters in downtown Santa Cruz

I grew up in a conservative suburb in Southern California and had to endure years of self-hatred and absorbing homophobic comments before I found the confidence in myself. Having a president who supported my queerness helped me love myself and to not be scared because of who I love.

And for the first time in years, I feel fearful. I fear that the rights that have been given to my community over the years will be revoked and the secret and not-so-secret homophobes will be able to harm my friends and I without facing repercussions.

I’m lucky I’m where I am right now – in a highly liberal school in a highly liberal state. I have a large support system on and off campus, and there are a copious number of systems of support that UCSC is providing for students.

But I am still scared. I am scared to go home for Christmas, where today a gay student at my former high school I know had gay slurs hurled at him. I am scared and incredibly heartbroken that 59,427,652 people voted for this pair of men who don’t think I and millions of other Americans deserve human rights.

First-year student and fellow member of the LGBT+ community Michael Menzer shares these sentiments:

“I feel lucky to be here on this campus and in Santa Cruz right now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared for my friends who aren’t as lucky as I am. I’ve heard so much stuff already about people going back into the closet or never coming out and I can’t even describe how much pain that brings me.”

The amount of hate crimes that have occurred in the past week is devastating. Trans people have had their property vandalized, swastikas coupled with “Make America Great Again” are showing up on walls, Muslim women had their hijabs ripped off of their heads. And Trump hasn’t even sworn in yet.

Hateful rhetoric raised by Trump’s campaign will have an impact on society for years to come, and this is the case even if he hadn’t won. His triumph just gives even more validation for those who are unaccepting. A vote for Trump, no matter if a person claims they did so out of economic or immigration issues, voted for homophobia. They voted for racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and ableism.

I shouldn’t act like this normal, because it’s not. A man who has sexually assaulted women is in office, and the people voted him in.

We all must use the privilege that we have to stand up for black people, non-binary people, Latino people, disabled people, Jewish people, all people that are even more disadvantaged under a Trump presidency. I will use my education and the tools I have at hand to make a difference. I have to keep going to precalculus, remembering that Donald Trump is president and something I can do about it right now is take full advantage of my college education and use the skills I learn to help combat the hostility that is to ensue.

My sign & I before protesting downtown.

My sign & I before protesting downtown.

UC Santa Cruz’s Lionel Cantu Queer Center, African American Resource and Cultural Center, American Indian Resource Center, Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center, El Centro: Chicano Latino Resource Center, and the Women’s Center are all holding space for students to support themselves and each other.

We have a voice, and it is imperative to use it these next four years. We support you, and don’t forget to support yourself.

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