We’re all tired of being told to vote and telling other people to vote. I get it. It’s exhausting. And chances are, if you still aren’t planning on voting at this point, you probably aren’t even reading this. However, if you aren’t planning to vote or you don’t think it’s important, I want to make one more plea to you to change you mind and go out to the polls on November 6.
There are a lot of reasons to give for why people should vote.
We can talk about how it’s our civic duty to vote and it’s how we have say in our government. We can talk about how people gave their lives so American citizens could vote. And, of course, we can talk about how gerrymandering and the erosion of voting rights are threatening our very ability to have a voice in our government at all. Those are certainly reasons, but they’re not the ones I’m interested in at the moment.
I could sit here and rattle off item after item where Republicans are being, honestly, just plain evil.
The rights and safety of people of color.
The dignity and humanity of anyone who is not a straight, white, cisgender man.
These things, and a lot more, are all at stake here. Each of these reasons is intensely important, but none of these are why I’m taking the time to write something here about voting.
The thing I very specifically want to talk about is my rights as a transgender American.
If nothing else motivates you to get to the polls on Tuesday, I ask that you do it for me and for people like me.
The Trump Administration has, so far, been a disaster for transgender people. Republicans retaining both houses of Congress after next week guarantees that things will get even worse for us. Over the 22ish months, we’ve seen an increase in anti-transgender sentiment around the country, not that things were particularly great for us before. And while Trump, himself, hasn’t verbally assaulted trans people the same way he has so many others, the hateful people in our country have been emboldened by him and the GOP.
Since Trump has taken office, we’ve seen the transgender military ban, the State Department’s passport gender marker kerfuffle, Jeff Sessions reversing Obama’s Justice Department’s decree that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender workers, the Administration’s withdrawal of Obama-era protections for transgender students to have access to gender facilities that match their gender, the Administration’s push to have ‘gender’ removed from the UN’s human rights docs, and the memo that would define trans people out of existence (not hyperbole).
That’s a lot. Trans people have been under heavy attack by this administration and this has been backed by a GOP that is downright giddy at the prospect of trans people suffering. They haven’t skipped any opportunity they get to punch down at us and blame us for pretty much anything bad that happens in this country. Ted Cruz has even blamed the shooting at a Planned Parenthood from a few years ago on us.
Look, you get the idea. Things aren’t going super great for us under Trump. But the thing is, it can still get a lot worse. Right now, I still have a valid passport with a female gender marker on it. There are city-level protections in NYC and state-level in New Jersey that protect my housing and employment from discrimination. But at any point, my passport could be invalidated by the State Department. This could happen while I’m out of the country, making re-entering the country I was born in, and have lived my whole life in, impossible. As of last week, it’s already shaky whether or not any given part of the Federal government will respect my birth certificate as valid. It’s reasonable to assume this will only get shakier.
Currently, the GOP is looking to nix health care protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Along with it is likely any remaining protection that transgender people have when it comes to access to health care. I am not even talking about transition-related care, such as hormones or surgery, I’m talking about the same health care that any other human might need. I’m talking about emergency services or treatment for disease. Transgender health care isn’t all that great even when we have protections in place. Hell, I co-founded a non-profit centered entirely around this.
These things aren’t about trying to receive special treatment or rights that other people don’t have. Anti-trans bigots try to frame it this way, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. What we are trying to obtain is the same treatment everyone else gets. We are fighting to have the law demand that we be treated just like cisgender people. That’s literally all we want.
And this isn’t about playing identity politics. We’re not the ones constantly bringing up trans rights. We’re not the ones introducing this legislation. We’re not the ones drowning in obsession of the genitals of others. This is us fighting to keep our humanity.
I know, what does all of this have to do with you voting next week? You’re probably feeling like I’m veering off-topic. The thing is, all of these things are on the line on Tuesday. While next week’s election doesn’t get Trump out of office and it doesn’t make transphobes disappear, it does have the ability to slow his steamrolling of our rights. By taking back the House and/or Senate, we can prevent GOP-backed legislation from furthering the destruction of our rights. We are not likely to get new legislation passed and signed into law to offer protections to trans people and we can’t stop the Executive Branch from a lot of their fuckery, but we can send a message.
By changing the control of Congress, the people of this country can send a message to the GOP and the rest of this country that their policies are not popular and this is not the America we want to live in. History shows us the GOP won’t care much about what the people of America actually want, but that message still matters. We matter.
With the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the rapid confirmation of far-right judges to lower-level courts, the balance of power in the courts has shifted greatly under Trump already. With a change in control of Congress, we can slow these appointments and demand less extreme nominations. While Trump doesn’t play ball, so to speak, this is all we have to stop the flooding of the courts right now. And, if you aren’t aware, the courts are going to be intensely important for the rights of transgender people. In the coming years, we can expect at least one case involving the rights of trans people to make it to the Supreme Court and to set precedent for generations to come. Maybe the case is centered around access to health care or access to gendered facilities—such as restrooms—or employment or who knows what. Or maybe all of these things. These rulings will change the lives of people like me forever.
What I am asking of you, right now, is for you to vote.
I don’t care what reason motivates you, but if nothing else, please do it for me. Do it because this country is rapidly heading towards one in which transgender people cannot live in at all. Many of the trans people I know who live in this country have already been working on what their escape plan will be if they have to leave the United States in a hurry. There are real concerns that are driving real survival planning.
You may not love the Democratic candidate on your ballot. You may see Democrats as not much better than, or even the same as, Republicans. I get it. I’m not a fan of Democrats either. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather be dealing with Democrats and trying to reason with them than I would Republicans.
It is likely the candidates you have available to vote for don’t represent all of your beliefs and what you want from our government. And voting for someone who doesn’t represent you in the way you’d like sucks. However, if you wait for the perfect candidate, you’re likely never going to vote again. No one is going to be exactly what you want. The idea, though, and how we make progress, is to continuously push left in every way we can. If you don’t like your Democratic candidate, vote for them, then primary the hell out of them the next time they’re up for re-election. Not only does this stop the movement to the right, but it also makes it clear to our politicians that they work for us and their jobs are never safe. This is the only way to hold them accountable. We’re not going to dismantle capitalism, replace it with socialism, and achieve equality for everyone in a single election. It’s a long process and much of it will be incremental.
This process needs to start now. It needs to start next week with weakening of the Republican’s grip of our government.
You may also think your vote doesn’t matter and your single tick for a candidate isn’t going to make a difference, but we all know the Republicans can’t win elections without cheating. They survive on voter suppression and any kinds of trickery they can pull off. This is why we have to run up the numbers as much as we can. Voter turnout is what makes the difference in this country. Republicans count on you not voting. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be continuously trying to make voting harder.
Please vote on November 6th. Do it for me.
If you don’t vote, you are sending a clear message that people like me don’t matter and my rights don’t matter and aren’t worth fighting for. It’s not about a single issue, it’s about making it clear that the rights of people like me aren’t up for debate and aren’t a bargaining chip.
And if you are planning to vote, I hope that you’ll also have conversations with your friends, family, and maybe even coworkers about why they should vote too. I hope that you’ll share some of these things with them and tell them how much their vote matters.
If you don’t know where your polling place is, vote.org has a tool for you and Ballotpedia can give you a peak at a sample ballot.