By Mila Madison
Along with many others like myself I felt the proverbial punch in the stomach, followed by a bout of “what the hell just happened?” It seemed as though we were just about to break through. Transgender rights were finally coming to the forefront. The Justice Department stood up for transgender kids. It looked as though we would finally get our day in the Supreme Court with appointed justices who understood the meaning of equality. There was reason to hope as all that we fought to achieve was just ahead of us.
“I NEVER COULD UNDERSTAND WHY THE SUBJECT OF EQUAL RIGHTS WAS ALWAYS A POLITICAL ISSUE, BUT HERE WE WERE AGAIN.”
But it was quickly torn away in November in what was an absurd election season to say the least. It was a reality TV show with a cast of bad actors, and the winner was the person with the most experience in that arena. I never could understand why the subject of equal rights was always a political issue, but here we were again. I watched in horror as everything we seemed to achieve was slowly being dismantled. Transphobes, sexists, and racists came out of the woodwork, feeling empowered as if the election somehow made it okay to hate others. Our society became more divided than ever before. The repeal of North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law blew up in a pathetic failure of epic proportions. Suicide rates rose, as LGBT people feared a future where a proponent of conversion therapy was now going to be the Vice President of the United States. We watched as the new President-Elect selected a top 10 list of LGBT antagonists to fill his cabinet. The darkest of times were on the horizon for all those who were oppressed, and it appeared as though we would be set back 100 years in the fight for equal rights. Here we were, a few days after we celebrated the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., and it was if we were starting over.
The new regime was being sworn in, and it didn’t take long for the dismantling of the dream to begin as LGBT rights were literally removed from the WhiteHouse.gov website. I was determined to keep fighting, but honestly I didn’t know how we were going to make it through this mess. Deep down I was as fearful as everyone else, but I tried to be strong for all those around me. This haze I had been in for almost three months was getting darker by the day and I was beginning to feel like the dream of a world where everyone was equal would not happen in my lifetime. But then something amazing happened.
“CISGENDER, TRANSGENDER, AFRICAN-AMERICANS, MUSLIMS, GAYS, LESBIANS AND ALL OTHERS WHO WERE OPPRESSED BANDED TOGETHER AS MILLIONS MARCHED TOGETHER IN UNITY.”
It came in the form of a women’s march and it happened in over 600 cities throughout the world, spanning multiple continents including Antarctica. Cisgender, transgender, African-Americans, Muslims, gays, lesbians and all others who were oppressed banded together as millions marched together in unity. There were women, men, children and parents, Christians, Atheists and Jews. They were all standing together, with one voice that said we are all valid, that we all deserve equal rights, and we will no longer be oppressed. It was like everything I have been screaming about over the years finally came to fruition in this one moment. It was the thought that every group that was oppressed needed to come together to form one unified majority. Only together we would have the power to change society. Our differences were assets and our cause was the same.
Let this just be the beginning of what is to come. We need to show those who don’t understand that this is not about who won the election, it is about who we are as human beings. It says that no matter who is in power, that we will resist them if they continue to divide and oppress us. We will fight against all those who try to deny us our rights. It says that we, the people, are the ones who truly have the power and we will no longer be silent. We will be the generation that realizes the dream, for what has just started will only get stronger and we are never turning back again. From out of the darkness came a shining light, and with that a feeling returned that I haven’t felt in many months, the feeling of hope.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,