This is an open letter to friends and family. As you know, though some of us have discussed politics in the past, sometimes passionately, we have never allowed our various philosophies to come between us, no matter how cherished they were. The fact is that I have liberal friends and conservative friends and libertarian friends and progressive friends and completely apolitical friends and any combination of those. I know a self described “liberal hawk” as well as a conservative dove. In all forms and persuasions, my friends and I have always been able to share a sometimes heated discussion about politics and policy and then resume our amity as if nothing had happened.
That’s the way life should be. “Live and let live” I always say and I learned a long time ago that politics is not something that should be some kind of deal breaker between friends. Everybody’s got their own opinions about things and we all know what is often said about opinions. Heck my own philosophies have evolved somewhat during my adult life. When I was young and in the service, I leaned conservative, like many service members. When I got out, I became something of a libertarian, and gradually I’ve become more and more liberal, until now I describe myself as a progressive with a libertarian streak. Though I haven’t voted for any Republicans since 1992, it was George W Bush and Newt Gingrich that put a hatchet in the head of my last zombie of conservatism. No doubt some of you will remember those conversations.
I love my friends and I have been very lucky that I have such intelligent, thoughtful, often successful friends. I know physicians, educators, scientists, engineers, IT professionals, musicians, linguists, artists, nurses, medical technicians, etc., etc. Almost all of you are smarter than I and most of you are a great deal more talented and successful. I have always looked at safeguarding my friendships as being of paramount importance and I have never been foolish enough to allow something like an election to come between us. Hitherto I have always been able to compartmentalize and separate those things.
Today we are about to swear in Mr. Donald J Trump as President of the United States and this is a whole new world. Since the election, I have intentionally avoided discussing it with my friends as it is inevitable that some of you have made it clear through your vote that you no longer wish to be my friends. Up to this point, I didn’t want to know because I want to think the best of my friends. Beyond your own philosophical leanings and viewpoints, at least some of you have probably thrown me under the bus in such a way that makes me terrified for the future both personally and for the nation and all hyperbole aside, I honestly don’t think I’m going to survive it when all is said and done. Some of you have either deliberately or thoughtlessly decided that I must be a second class citizen forever without the full measure of the rights and benefits that you enjoy. I’m sorry but with friends like that, what use have I for enemies? I don’t know who you are yet but I have a feeling I’m going to find out.
This goes beyond the usual right/left paradigm for several reasons. Let’s pass over the fact that Trump is probably the least qualified person to ever assume the responsibilities as a world leader or that he currently has 75 lawsuits against him pending or that he and his corporations have declared bankruptcy 6 times or even that he seems to lie by default. No, we won’t parse that. Many businesses file for Chapter 11 protection, (though most don’t do it as a way to get out of paying their debts unless they’re actually broke), many businesses get sued, (though 75 seems an awful high number) and let’s skip the part about lying, most politicians do that, (though one lie every fifty seconds seems extreme even for a politician. No, let’s focus on the more personal things that he’s said and done that make it crystal clear that by supporting him, you no longer want to be my friend.
First, all of you to whom I’m writing this know that I am a card carrying, gay agenda meeting attending member of the LGBTQ community. Mr. Donald Trump’s Vice President, Mr. Mike Pence is one of the proudest, loudest homophobic bigots on the planet. Both Pence and Trump have signed on to the Republican’s extreme anti LGBTQ platform which, among other things strongly opposes marriage equality, would prevent transgender Americans from using any public bathrooms and would allow parents the “right” to torture their children using the debunked and barbaric practice of conversion therapy in a futile and misguided attempt to change their children’s sexual orientation. Now, while you might think this is no big deal, think about this: The platform calls for a ban on ME being able to pee anywhere but my home. Do you know what that means? I will be rendered both unemployed and unemployable. Think I’m exaggerating? Go without urinating for nine hours. Go ahead, I dare you. Why would a friend do that to me? Because I sure as hell wouldn’t do it to an enemy, much less a friend. The Texas legislature, being encouraged by Trump’s victory, has already introduced a whole raft of anti LGBTQ legislation, coyly referred to as “protecting religious freedom” but in reality it just enables citizens both private and public to freely discriminate against LGBTQ people without any consequences for expressing their hatred. Heck, there are two bills designed just to prevent me peeing.
Maybe you’re thinking “No, that will never happen”. Except it has happened. In North Carolina and in Mississippi it is illegal for transgender Americans to use certain facilities, it is against the law for any local governing body to pass protections for vulnerable LGBTQ citizens and it is perfectly fine to deny them, (us) goods and services, based on nothing more that how they feel about queer people. It doesn’t matter whether you “believe” that's what these laws do. Your belief and your desires have no influence on reality. Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, etc. have all passed or at least introduced similar legislation.
Then there is the fact that Trump and his nominee for HHS Secretary wants to privatize and ultimately do away with medicare, social security and medicaid. Tom Price is on record over and over as wanting to “privatize” medicare and to gut social security. That will leave me in a really bad spot, (especially since I won’t be allowed to work). Most of you guys are much more financially stable than I am and some probably will never need either social security or medicare. Some of you may point out that you’ve worked hard for that and I have been less than forward thinking about my eventual old age and that’s a fair knock. But there is also the fact that unlike some of you, I wasn’t able to go to college on my parents’ dime, nor have I ever had an especially high paying job. The most money I’ve ever made in a single year was in 2008 when I grossed $39,250. Since my lay off in early 2009, I’ve only managed to recover to a point at which I grossed $31,000 last year. My savings are around $7,000 in liquid assets and I own my 13, no, wait, 14 year old car.
All my life, I’ve been paying into social security and medicare and it’s been promised that it will be protected for my old age over and over by both parties, so I’ve come to rely on it. Yet even as I type this, Rep. Paul Ryan is working out the details about how to gut these programs with the full support of Mr. Price and Mr, Trump. So when I’m forced out of my job because I can’t pee, all of the money I’ve paid into social security and medicare, MY money, mind you, will be unavailable to me. So again, thanks, friend. I'll think about you when my cat and I are living in that car and slowly starving to death together or when I can’t even afford a flu shot or a bag of cough drops.
Jeff Sessions, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, Andrew Puzder, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, et al. ALL of these cabinet picks have shown a singular hostility toward the posts for which they’ve been nominated to lead. DeVos, Perry, Pruitt and Zinke have all expressed a desire to abolish their respective departments. Puzder has a history of violating labor law, the very laws he has been nominated to enforce. Hell, Trump’s pick for Secretary of state is former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, one of the hugest climate change liars there is. But he isn’t alone. Almost every one of Trump’s cabinet picks are on record denying anthropogenic climate change is even real, despite the overwhelming scientific agreement on the issue. CO2 and methane trap infrared radiation and warms the atmosphere and while you may not like it, you and I know that you can’t change the laws of physics by denying it exists.
As an atheist, my life is found to be wanting by the likes of ultra religious and horribly homophobic Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos. My military service has been cheapened by the mounting evidence that Russia interfered with our election and by how Trump is using his new office to strike deals with foreign countries that will benefit him. His new press secretary even turned his first press conference into an infomercial for Trump's new D.C. hotel. Our country is being sold out from under us and for this I gave five years of my life? As a transgender American I may no longer be able to work and support myself while as a poor American, it may become more necessary than ever that I work until I drop dead, though that won’t take long because our new President and his nominee for HHS Secretary think of health care as a privilege for only those able to afford it. As a woman, I’ve become just an object to be treated as a plaything by a man who has no shame or control over his own disgusting behavior. My friends have always accepted this innate traits in me but now some of them have let it be known loud an clear that they find me repulsive and less than human.
I don’t know specifically who you are yet but I want to know what it is I did or said or didn’t do or say that made you want to stop being my friend. Whatever it was I’m sorry and I wish I could take it back because you have well and truly screwed me. More thoroughly, in fact, than I have ever been screwed or imagined being screwed.
Whether or not you want to believe it, the reality is that even if you are not yourself a bigot, you apparently have no problem with bigotry because you voted for it. You may not be a misogynist but by voting for a man who brags about committing sexual assault, you’ve made it plain that you’re okay with misogyny. You have decided that you don’t want to defend me from hate and see me prosper. You have chosen that I should be treated like garbage, like some kind of human filth to be spat upon and ridiculed. You may not wish to accept that reality but your wishes aren’t relevant because that is what you’ve done. Then there is the huge surge in hate crimes since the election, with many of the perpetrators proudly proclaiming their support for Trump both during and after their acts of raw hatred. I believe that if I am not myself a victim of hatred in this post “politically correct”, (read post self restraint) world, it will be something of a miracle.
I don’t pretend to know why you voted the way you did, you guys are smart and well informed. If you were stupid, I wouldn’t hang around with you so I can only assume that you knew these obvious things that I’m now pointing out before you made your selection. Maybe you voted for him without thinking how it would affect others but I thought you were more compassionate than that. Maybe you voted for him because you hate Obama but you are all too smart to think he was running against Trump, right? Maybe you did it because you hate Clinton but surely even the 25 year long smear job that’s been done on her wouldn’t fool you. Maybe somebody else was pulling your strings. In the end, it’s not really relevant why you threw me under the bus but throw my under you did and in such a way as to ensure the rear wheels go over me. If you didn’t know how reprehensible and unqualified a person he is, or think how adversely it wouild affect me or my community, then as a friend, please stop voting. You don’t know how to do it responsibly
Think I’m being hyperbolic or hysterical? Read the links, I’ve provided. There is not a “shady” or questionable source among them. All of them are from credible, reliable, mainstream news sources. I could have even been far harsher in this assessment but I’ve limited myself to news outlets that I thought you’d respect, (sorry, no FOX “News”). While I’d like to think that you weren’t aiming at me when you cast your ballot, you might as well have been because I’m the one who will suffer the consequences, not you. Most of you have got the resources to weather what we’re about to experience, I do not.
I acknowledge that I will lose friends when I send this email and post this open letter for others to read but I’m in survival mode and the people who have assisted in this slow motion disaster need to know the gravity of their actions. Nothing happens in a vacuum and it’s not up to me to make you feel better about your actions. Though I may live to forgive you, I'll never forget that you saying “screw you” to Clinton and/or Obama has only managed to screw me and others like me. Clinton and Obama are going to be just fine, so congratulations! Your shotgun blast of ire missed them entirely and hit me instead. Just keep in mind that it’s not I who burned down the bridge, you did that and with me still on it. There are no words to convey how horribly sad this makes me feel. I didn’t want to write this and I’ve wrestled with it for over two months but I’m left without a choice as I see it. These aren’t normal times and my only two options are to resist or to roll over and you know I’ll never just roll over for anybody. Enjoy your celebrations and enjoy the new administration while you can. I firmly believe that you will one day pine for the days of the Obama administration and regret casting the vote that you did. If I’m still around at that time, I’ll be willing to listen. I’m not very optimistic though if truth be told.
Whatever happens, you have made it clear that you no longer want to be my friend. For whatever it’s worth, I’m still your friend and I still love you and cherish the friendship we’ve shared, though you obviously don’t think as much of me. But since you, by proxy at least, want me to be an unemployed and unemployable social pariah with “mental illness”, undeserving of the same rights and privileges that you enjoy and too poor to retire until I drop dead because I have no health care, it can’t be more obvious that you’d rather not be my friend. So, goodbye, friend. It’s been a slice that apparently I valued more than you have.
May your life end with more dignity than mine apparently will.
P.S. To friends: To be clear, I have no idea if any of you voted for Trump. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will turn out that I’m a great judge of people and none of you did. Again, I hate writing this but things are about to get very real, very fast and silence is complicity.
P.P.S. To Kossacks: Sorry I have to work so I won’t be around to read and respond to the comments till later. I’ll try to catch up when I get home. If some personal friends of mine do show up, please treat them with the same respect you’ve shown me. Thanks.
Update: Just got home and started reading the comments. Thanks for all the love, you guys are awesome. I'll try to get through them all but it’s quite a lot! Thanks again for reading and commenting!
Why don't you want me as a friend anymore?
Why don't you want me as a friend anymore?