11/18/16A trans woman’s voice amidst a Trump world

1. Tell us about you, Amy? What do you value? What do you love?

I value a lot of different things! I will say I value being able to connect through stories and shared experiences. I guess in a lot of ways you can say I value being able to communicate with others, particularly about issues and and topics that had made you the person you are today. Aside from the human connection I seek in my life, I really love to be out by the water, particularly the ocean. There is something soothing and grounding about being able to see such a massive system contain life and be so much more complex than I could ever know. It makes my problems feel like they are going to be ok.

2. How has this election affected you?

Oof. Where to begin…well I would say that this election has definitely made me fearful. As an example, I have recently come out very publicly as a trans woman and I had this idea I had carried for many years that I was stuck to only being able to living out safely in large cities like Seattle. This troubled me because I was saddened by the thought that my own ability to live safely in my country was severely limited to this liberal islands that are few and far between.

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During the fall I had started to believe that maybe I was wrong. Maybe the bubble wasn’t as small as I had previously imagined it to be. This election, however, has me thinking I was right to feel like my safety as an out trans woman of color is limited to just tiny pockets in the country. It feels deeply discouraging and even within large cities I feel like it would be unwise of me to travel even to a big city alone, and this really stinks, you know?

3. What was life like before the election?

So I had just come out publicly this year, so for me I was really feeling like my life had been shifting in a lot of ways. The safety of being able to walk down the street at night started disappearing as my body began to shift more and I started dressing more comfortably. I started noticing people staring a bit long at me on the bus in the morning, some looking as if they were insulted. It’s a really rough transition to suddenly get attention that feels like deliberate rejection. I started experiencing and meeting folks that felt similarly and I’ve concluded that even within Seattle it is hard to be trans/queer (or basically just not fitting into a normative binary). This election has only heightened all this and it’s been so much shittier to just get to work for fear that those negative stares would turn into something more. I’ve been lucky enough that this has not been the case for me, but I’ve known people that have been less fortunate since the election.

4. What forms of solidarity and support make you feel safer in general and what forms might now post-election?

I gathered a lot of support and solidarity from many different places. One of these places are groups on places like facebook or instagram. We share encouraging articles to each other that give names to our identities, share particular places where someone may have experienced some form of discrimination. We also have groups to trade/sell/buy furniture, clothing, or services from one another and I love that because it also means that you are helping each other in some way.

Other ways are support groups around Seattle that I have leaned on heavily at times. One group specifically that has been and continues to be a tremendous help for me and many other trans folks is the Ingersoll Gender center. They essentially provide spaces where folks know they wont be discriminated against for their gender or how they dress. It also gives us a space to be able to talk about trans issues together, share difficult experiences we may have had, and lift each other up. They have been blessings and I don’t know if I would be where I am today without them.

Also, books. I love reading books written by trans/POC authors. They can be poetry or their own written experiences and I’m absolutely on them. The first book that I found to be so comforting for me was “Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. The book basically gives a voice to trans narratives and it really helped me see that I wasn’t alone. The last book I read that I loved was “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serano.

Lastly, I have about 2 friends that I talk to on a daily basis. They mean the world to me and are also trans/queer/non-binary. We support each other on big to small issues and I love them <3 Honestly, I feel that my call to action has been to get the attention of the folks NOT in queer communities to speak up. I would feel safer seeing more cis folks listening to our issues. More white men coming and leaning in to hear what we have to say. More people that are not from queer communities attending protests and supporting their queer neighbors. This would make me feel safer, personally. img_1680

5. What forms make you feel less safe or even undermined?

When white or cis folks are unwilling to listen to how this election makes us feel. When they would rather tell us why we shouldn’t be complaining before they’ve even heard our stories. Basically when they use their voices to drown out ours. I feel then that because myself or my community is not heard that we dont matter. This is exactly the same issue, but it feels even more pressing for them to listen because I feel so many policies and attitudes in the United States is determined to change in a really bad way if our voices are not heard.

6. What are you looking forward to in the future?

I would say I’m looking forward to using this particular part of our history and my experiences to speak up. I’m seeing now the power in making my voice loud and my experiences known, because I’m not just speaking for myself anymore. That’s powerful to me because it is a way I can help my community. On a lighter note, I’m super excited for maxi dresses this next summer.

To reach Amy, use the contact form on this page. All messages sent through the contact form with subject line ‘AMY’ will be sent to and read only by her.

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