I am a queer transgender person, which makes people uncomfortable if not disgusted and angry. Just my existence pisses many people off. But when I advocate for myself and practice allyship for other marginalized groups, pots get stirred, feelings are hurt, and ignorance is shown. While confronting other people’s biases, I challenge myself to check my own during disagreements.
The most prominent argument right now is who to vote for on November 3rd—and don’t get me started on the third party voters. You and I both know it will be Trump or Biden who wins this election. You are naïve to think your third party person will win and in that naivety is privilege. And if a person is holding their nose and withholding their vote altogether simply because they can’t “bring themselves” to vote for Biden even though they don’t like Trump either, that is a sign of privilege too.
When people say they won’t vote against Trump, I read it to mean,“Whoever wins won’t change my baseline. I am not fearful of discrimination based on my social class, physical and mental capabilities, gender, sexuality, race, and religion.” And this is your privilege is showing, folks.
Before I continue, I want to honor the Black and Indigenous folks who refuse to vote because of the ongoing systemic racism that has not been addressed or dismantled and which continues to create barriers to voting polls, preventing these marginalized people from having a voice. I don’t get a say at that table, but I can respect the voices of those who have been hurt the most. Our country and government were built on lifting up white men while pushing down people of color. If a Black person tells me they won’t vote because to them it feeds into the machine that holds them down, I have zero right to minimize their trauma.
When I talk about a person not voting against Trump, I want to be clear: There is a difference between people choosing not to vote because they know whoever is in office won’t negatively impact them and choosing not to vote because whoever is elected won’t positively impact their way of life.
A Biden and Harris win will not stop racism; I believe having them in office will take away some of the entitlement and confidence in the racists Trump has enabled, but maybe I am the naïve one here. I don’t know if a Biden presidency will reduce systemic racism in this country, but I do know a Trump presidency is actively (and purposefully) contributing to it. Because let’s be real, when Trump is speaking about suburban housewives and their need for safety from low-income folks, he is talking about keeping rich white ladies safe from Black people and people of color living in disproportionately higher rates of poverty. Trump is a racist and if you don’t vote against him, you don’t care and know your skin color is safe under his administration.
You have also seen the way he treats women, folks with disabilities, and immigrants. And during the recent Republican National Convention, he trotted Billy Graham’s granddaughter on stage to put the lives of transgender youth in danger. She called Trump a man of faith and praised Trump for “keeping little girls” safe from transgender kids. Transgender youth are more likely to be bullied, harassed, and sexually assaulted by the hands of cisgender people; transgender and nonbinary youth self-harm and die by suicide at much higher rates than cisgender youth. Tell me again who we are protecting.
When we vote, we are picking a for a president who holds our values, policies that will make our life and the lives of other Americans better, and for a person who can provide everyday security in all aspects of our lives. Employment, education, housing, and health care should be basic human rights. Sadly, the ability to obtain these rights depends on policies put in place by elected officials. The president also puts judges on the Supreme Court who are responsible for either denying or uplifting humanity.
Trump doesn’t support The Equality Act which would give protections to LGBTQIA+ people.
Trump doesn’t support DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) which would protect immigrants.
Trump doesn’t support Black Lives Matter, which is fighting to protect Black people of all genders and identities.
Trump doesn’t support The Affordable Care Act which would take away health care for 23 million people.
Trump doesn’t support people with disabilities. He proposed a $4.8 trillion cut to programs that benefit our most vulnerable citizens who use food assistance, Medicaid, and other protection programs as they navigate life with physical and mental disabilities.
Someone told me they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if they voted for Biden despite not agreeing with Trump. Voting for Biden just goes against their beliefs and they need to stick to their convictions. I wanted to know how they could sleep at night with all of that privilege keeping them safe and unbothered. I wanted to know how they could call themselves allies to marginalized people without making a few uncomfortable compromises knowing they were giving more vulnerable people a chance of security. I let them know the bad taste in their mouth would be washed away with all of the job and housing security, health care, and body autonomy they get to enjoy.
Privilege is not just about financial luxury, it’s about social luxury that enables you to live your life as you see fit without asking someone for permission to make choices that benefit you and your family. I made plenty of people extra angry when I pointed this out to people on the internet—because where else can you have a balanced political discussion?
But I don’t care. If you truly want to help marginalized people, then do the work. Make the sacrifices to improve the lives of others when it feels uncomfortable. Just because the person in office may not affect your life personally, the president and the administration they surround themselves with have a profound effect on people who can’t flippantly decide even the lesser of two evils is too evil to back. Rest easy knowing you thought of someone besides yourself.
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