Reilly: Hope is Not Lost
Within a day of hearing the results of the election, I also heard about 8 transgender people committing suicide to avoid the world that Trump might bring about. Most of them were teenagers, as young as 13. It took me a bit to track down and confirm these tragedies, and each family is reeling from the loss. One committed suicide because her parents told her and her brother (also trans) that they could only afford one transition at a time with a Trump presidency in place. I can only imagine how they wish they could go back and rephrase that discussion.
However, it’s gotten me thinking; many people are pointing at this loss of life and blaming Trump. They are looking at the opposing side and calling them responsible, but who told these children that we needed to stop Trump “at all costs”? And who used apocalyptic language to describe what would happen if he won? Which adults are posting on social media right now that their lives are over and they’re going to die or be rounded up in camps?
It’s been tradition in our country since at least the 1960s to use fear as a tactic to win votes. In the previous elections, as a teenager, I was embedded in the Republican movement, hearing everything from Obama being called the “anti-Christ” and signalling the actual end of the world, to the continued idea that if anyone but President George Bush was re-elected, we would lose the war in Iraq and be overrun by terrorists. I remember the fear I felt at that age that my entire world would just cave in on me. I can only imagine how these teens felt, hearing immediately from so many transgender groups that if they don’t change their documents RIGHT NOW they would never be able to. That if they couldn’t book surgeries RIGHT NOW they wouldn’t be able to medically transition.
Is it awful that we have this President? Definitely. With a House and Senate that are also red, we are looking at a period of four years where a lot of our progress is going to backslide. However, we don’t know that it’s the end of all civil liberties, and we don’t know that it’s not something we can come back from. Already, Trump has stepped back on a lot of the extreme promises he’s made during his campaign, proving that he’s more of a performer than a serious politician. Regardless of all of that, this continued doom and gloom rhetoric has real consequences, especially for teens who don’t remember what it was like to have a non-progressive President.
This is not the end of the world, and our lives are not over. Talking like it is the apocalypse is harming our youth, who are already high risk for self harm and suicide, and it’s not doing anything productive. If you’re on social media and are considering posting about the election results, please bear your audience in mind. We don’t need any more teens and young adults to lose hope.
Reilly Smith is a Guest Contributor at InQueery.