This author has chosen to publish this article under the pseudonym Vellum for their protection.
As I consider sending this in, I’m nervous, and my stomach fills with the muted feeling of dread that I’m accustomed to. While this will ultimately be sent with a throwaway email and my identity will be protected, as I type this in the Canisius library, I’m keeping my head on a swivel, fearing senselessly that some sort of bigoted fairy will appear over my shoulder and shout, “HEY LOOK AT WHAT THIS PERSON IS TYPING!” This is a secret, after all, and I’m paranoid of people discovering it.
So, yes, I am a closeted transgender student attending this College, and I’m nearly certain I’m not the only one, so I’m not trying to point at myself and say “LOOK AT ME, FEEL SORRY FOR ME, I’M SO UNIQUE.” I am, however, someone who feels great catharsis when they manage to transcribe the jumbled mess in their brain onto a Word document, so I’m going to do so again.
For the record, the groups of people I am most concerned with supporting and protecting right now are people of all races that aren’t white and people of non-Christian religion. While you can say many things about Donald Trump, and it is impossible to tell how his Presidency will go, his rhetoric and campaign, at the very least, are focused on marginalizing these groups and empowering the Alt-Right, a movement characterized by rejections of multiculturalism, political correctness, and a non-White American identity. I fear for these groups principally.
And bigots have been empowered; anecdotally, stories of harassment were spreading across Twitter the week of the election. While the validity of these claims usually can’t be verified (and certainly some of them were fabricated to make Trump supporters look bad), it’s easy to imagine.
Imagining things, however, is not all I’ve had to do. Given the, ahem, whiteness of my skin, my apparent heterosexuality, my style of dress, and my relatively loud nature, I imagine that I wouldn’t seem out of place at a Trump rally. I’ve had classmates in the last month glance at me with a supposedly knowing look and say something like, “damn liberals, am I right?” or “this is some PC bullshit,” like a dank meme Pepe avatar on Twitter complaining about “libtards” had come to life. At my job, my coworkers will say mildly homophobic or transphobic things with me right there (not jokes, mind you; I can laugh at a good joke), and give me a look as if they expect me to laugh at it, which I do, halfheartedly. A coworker said, in confusion, “So is transgender what happens when you’re, like, really gay?” My attempts to correct this viewpoint led him to label the topic as too difficult to understand for him, and he proclaimed “blissful ignorance.”
My boss looked at me on Saturday and said, “Hopefully all those bleeding hearts that are protesting will realize they’ve lost, and we won.” I nodded, and excused myself to go to the bathroom of the gender that I do not identify with, where I hid for ten minutes so I could try to forget he said that.
Internalizing problems is my and many other people in closet’s specialty, you see.
Donald Trump’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights does not explicitly scare me; his exact stance on it, as with most things, is unclear at best. His Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, however, who has previously advocated shock therapy to “cure” gay people, has confirmed that Trump’s campaign is strictly anti-LGBTQ+. Of course, transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner (an inspiration to many trans people, including me) endorsed Trump, claiming that he had the interest of queer people in mind. I have a healthy dose of skepticism based on everything else that his campaign has produced, however.
Part of me knows that the election of Trump will empower those who are transphobic to be more bold in their actions. The Alt-Right is focused primarily on White nationalism, but they do tend to go on their forums and call people faggots or queers or whatever; while that tends to stay isolated in Breitbart and similar places, it does spill over. Maybe not to the face of transgender people who are just trying to live their lives comfortably, but with the anonymity of social media and the internet in general, making offensive and ad hominem attacks has never been easier.
Transitioning (HA) away from the topic of Trump as a whole, I imagine Canisius would be a friendly place to come out at. It’s a small college, and one that preaches social justice and giving a voice to the voiceless. I’m doubtless that the staff would be more than accommodating, that the average student would be kind and friendly, and that, altogether, it would be lovely. “Cura personalis,” of course, calls for care of the, ahem, ENTIRE body.
However, there’s no telling who at this College might abide by Alt-Right principles. The mere fact that Donald Trump was elected by by the American people shows that many people harbor similar sentiments, a number that’s possibly far larger than I thought. (I’m not condemning all Trump voters as bigots, let me be clear; I’m condemning the extremists.) Given this school’s religious nature, I believe the number may be higher than I’d like to think. “After all, wouldn’t God have chosen the right body for me?” I imagine someone saying to me. And, let’s be honest, much of this school is populated by affluent white men, the demographic that Trump dominated.
Part of me wants to climb onto the top of Churchill Tower and scream down my gender onto the world, out of fear and desperation and anger, just to stick it to people. A sort of a general “screw you” to those who would suppress anyone who is LGBTQ+. “We’re not going to go down quietly,” I might say. “We’re going to fight for every inch.” The sort of liberal wet dream that many people have; their grand moment in the sun.
And yet. AND YET.
The fear is enough that I’ll likely not come out while I attend this College. I’ll stew quietly, keep my eyes glued on any potential legislation (and hope Andrew Cuomo remains in office), pray that none comes, and then campaign hard and vigorously once 2019 rolls around for a more friendly candidate. Hope and pray is just about all I can do for the time being.