Content warnings: white U.S. citizen exploring his post-election feelings, discussion of sexual violence, mentions of many different forms of state and interpersonal violence
It has been a week since the election, and I have not stopped reeling and buzzing with anxiety. It might seem ridiculous to ask why Trump’s election has provoked these emotional excesses in me. But I’m asking why, and I’m trying to answer honestly.
- It’s fucking triggering. I’ve survived multiple acts of sexual violence over the course of my life, as I think most trans people and (cis and trans) women have, and most of which I certainly will not mention here. A few specific things just keep flashing in my mind. When I was eleven, two thirteen-year-old boys sexually harassed me relentlessly every day after school for a full year, threatened to rape me, and laughed about it. When I was fifteen, I went to my first and only high school dance, and I saw one of those boys get elected homecoming king. The election of Trump is absolutely not that. (It is a lot worse.) But it feels like that to me. Of course the loud and proud sexually violent white cis guy gets popularity, power, and applause. Isn’t that always what happens? Since when has anyone ever cared about survivors of sexual violence? It also reminds me of when I was 20 and walking on a busy city street in daylight. A stranger—an older white man—grabbed me, one arm around my waist and one hand groping my chest. I cried out and pushed him away. The bystanders laughed at me. Since when has anyone ever been anything other than congratulatory toward white cis men who publicly perpetrate sexual violence? (I know that there is actually important resistance, but right now that feels like tiny, barely-perceptible sparks on the very fringe.)
- I’m Muslim, Jewish on my father’s side (as he once told me, Jewish enough to have been killed in the Holocaust), trans, queer, and psych disabled. My race, class, geography, education, citizenship, and passing privilege have generally protected me from the worst ravages of Christian supremacy, anti-Muslim bias, and anti-Semitism; anti-trans bias and cissexism; anti-queer bias and heterosexism; and ableism and sanism. While other people who share my marginalized identities have gotten locked up, tortured, deported, displaced, forcibly separated from loved ones, pushed into homelessness and hunger, or killed, I have not. I have dealt with institutional exclusion, interpersonal violence, and discrimination, certainly, but I have rarely personally feared experiencing the extreme conditions that so many other people in the country and the world do. And even though some people I am very close to have experienced those extreme conditions, most of the time, I have not actively feared that most of my close family members or friends would face most of those things. What I’m experiencing now is losing some of that privilege. Or actually, because I still really do have all of that privilege, I guess what I’m experiencing is a change in perception: a sharp suspicion that my privilege may very soon have less power to protect me than it so recently did, given my vulnerabilities. I’m personally afraid that in the near future I and all of the people closest to me will end up experiencing some combination of murder, incarceration, deportation or displacement, torture, forcible separation from loved ones, or extreme poverty. It’s fucking scary. People who have already been living under these conditions have every right to have whatever reaction they have to me and others like me experiencing this fear for the first time.
- I’m a white lefty professional, and I’m worried that the basic tools, skills, and tactics I have developed are just no longer going to be even slightly effective, and maybe never were. If Clinton won, I would be dismayed about many, many of her positions and policies. In many ways, I think she would be a nightmare—in a few ways, actually even worse of a nightmare than Trump. But she’s the type of establishment nightmare I’m more or less used to, and that I have been trained to work both with and against. Trump is not. I don’t know what the fuck to do with/against Trump, the people he is bringing into positions of power, and the rash of increased overt bigotry and violence he has unleashed. Being and staying too comfortable with the establishment is a big risk for white lefty professionals, one that I have not been vigilant enough against.
- The aching fear, outrage, and grief I feel for so many people–friends, family members, acquaintances, and total strangers–who have been getting so badly fucked over for so many years has escalated to a fever pitch, overflowing the usual mental walls I create to prevent those feelings from overwhelming me. Perhaps those walls were never a good thing, but they let me function. Now, I feel adrift.
It’s hard to take enough care, and I’m having flare-ups of various chronic health issues. I know I’m not alone.