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To my beloved Republican family member

(This was originally intended to be a Facebook reply, but it’s so long that it actually broke Facebook when I tried to post it. Or maybe the multiple links did it. Either way, go me?)

I know I don’t normally even go here, but I saw your airy dismissal that LGBTQ rights will be “fine” under the Trump presidency and can’t really remain silent. Please don’t read this as me lecturing you, but rather trying to explain why I and so many of my LGBTQ siblings are terrified what’s going to happen to us.

There are a lot of reasons I’m extremely concerned about the Trump presidency, but I’m going to set everything else (such a mountain of everything else) aside just to focus on my perspective only as a queer individual. From that stance, the problem isn’t even necessarily Donald Trump himself. While he’s said a lot of incredibly hateful things that I’ve been horrified by, I don’t recall any being directed toward LGBTQ people specifically, other than the bitterly laughable “ask the gays” comment, which is right up there with “some of my best friends are gay” when it comes to eye-rolling. Hell, he even said he’d “protect LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology” after the Pulse nightclub shooting, which is… nice, I guess, though I could have done with a lot less being used to justify anti-Islamic sentiment and more addressing hateful domestic ideologies. But I honestly do buy the argument that Donald Trump probably does not give two shits if someone is gay or straight, and who knows, maybe he’s one of those lovely people who is equally misogynistic to both cis and trans women. (How refreshing.)

Rather, as a genderqueer and non-heterosexual person, the problem I have is with Mike Pence, and the Republican party as a whole. I saw you reel off the Republican agenda as you see it, and homophobia wasn’t part of that. I think it’s great that in your mind, it’s not. But we need to talk about the agenda the party has stated. Because I love you, but your personal take on the agenda is obviously not what the party as a whole believes, in their own words.

From the full, long-form Republican party platform:

From Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary:

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.

I don’t care how nice it sounds, this is a homophobic call to destroy gay marriage. If you read further into it, there’s direct criticism of United States vs Windsor and Obergfell vs Hodges, which are both landmark court victories for gay rights. And this isn’t just about gay people being able to get dressed up and have a nice wedding. This is about all of the countless attendant rights that come with a legally recognized marriage, including guardianship of children, inheritance, and the right of spouses to make medical decisions and even visit their ill or injured partner in the hospital. The reason this is important is so people like Mike Pence (yes, that Mike Pence) can no longer, say, try to keep a woman from being able to visit her dying wife in the hospital.

From The First Amendment: Religious Liberty:

We pledge to defend the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control. We endorse the First Amendment Defense Act, Republican legislation in the House and Senate which will bar government discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

FADA is something that scares the hell out of most LGBTQ people, because it’s basically Mike Pence’s RFRA on steroids. Setting aside for now the implications this will have on women, this bill would allow publicly funded programs/government employees to deny service to LGBTQ individuals based on their personal religious beliefs. This goes beyond protecting asshole clerks who want to deny marriage licenses and organizations who want to fire their gay employees, to very real danger to transgender individuals who can get denied medical care or protection when a provider decides they don’t like the mismatch between gender identity and genitalia. I suppose you can argue that this is not the intention of the law (which I would disagree with) but the point is that these actions would be protected and codified into law, and then be used to justify bigoted behavior that could seriously hurt someone. It might get fought out in the “activist” courts later, but that’s not going to save the people hurt in the meantime.

From The Tenth Amendment: Federalism as the Foundation of Personal Liberty:

In obedience to that principle, we condemn the current Administration’s unconstitutional expansion into areas beyond those specifically enumerated, including bullying of state and local governments in matters ranging from voter identification (ID) laws to immigration, from healthcare programs to land use decisions, and from forced education curricula to school restroom policies.

Emphasis mine. This is a direct attack on the Obama administration’s directive that students should be able to use the bathroom of the gender they identify themselves as. Anti-trans bathroom bills have been the new anti-LGBT line for a lot of local Republicans after getting so much pushback on the gay marriage issue. I personally received a lot of political advertisements on this issue when I was registered as unaffiliated, which is actually why I switched my registration to Democrat, because I wanted bigoted local Republicans to leave me the fuck alone. This anti-trans obsession often paints innocent trans women as sexual predators and puts them in constant danger for the crime of existing in public – and is also the reason I and many of my trans male friends still continue to use women’s restrooms, because you literally have to make a calculation of which bathroom is less likely to get me murdered. Trans people get murdered for their gender identity. I cannot emphasize this point enough.

And then we look at Mike Pence himself. People like to joke that the VP is a largely ceremonial position, but Dick Cheney showed us that didn’t have to be the case. And considering that Mike Pence is now in charge of the transition team, I think that indicates that he’s going to be taking a very active policy role. Which if you were an LGBTQ person, would scare the shit out of you.

I’ve already mentioned him a couple of times in relation to the platform, particularly his anti-gay marriage stance and the RFRA.

Mike Pence: “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discrete and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” (source)

Considering the discrimination LGB-and-particularly-T people face in many places, this is unacceptable. And while Pence said that in 2000, his position has obviously not changed considering that in 2007 he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Mike Pence from his campaign website in 2000: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” (source)

Mike Pence’s policies caused an HIV epidemic in Indiana. Part of this was due to his attack on Planned Parenthood (which provides screening) and things like needle exchange programs. (source) But he links HIV to sexual behavior himself in the above quote, and “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” is a common political euphemism for conversion therapy programs that try to “cure” people of homosexuality or being transgender by incredibly shady and damaging means.

Mike Pence was against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He’s against gay and transgender people being able to serve in the military. (one source of many) Needless to say, he’s long been against gay marriage.

And here’s my favorite Mike Pence, from 2006, citing one of his reasons for being against gay marriage: “Harvard sociologist Pitrim Sorokin found that throughout history, societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”  (source)

Beyond the fears that we are going to have what legal rights we’ve gained ripped away, that right there is the summary of our fear and despair. Pence himself preceded that statement by saying that (paraphrasing here, obviously) that this totally isn’t about prejudice, but then blithely continued on that the homosexuals are going to ruin marriage and family and be terrible for children. It’s not that he doesn’t like us, it’s just that we’re going to destroy the fabric of society by getting our queer all over it.

Suicide is an epidemic in the LGBT community, and hits transgender individuals particularly hard. And it’s no fucking wonder, when we spend all of our lives being told that we are unnatural and apparently the reason for societal collapse because we want to be just like everyone else–you know, work, pay taxes, have families, have our loved ones with us when we’re sick and dying, and not get murdered or abused because someone can’t handle their own puerile imaginings about what we do in our relationships or what we have stashed in our shorts. Trans people get murdered with horrifying frequency considering what percent of the population we are. At least 26 have died so far this year. Here are their faces.

And things like bathroom bills? Contribute directly to harming our community. Having an entire political party that makes it part of its platform that our families are lesser – if not directly harmful to children – and we deserve to get fired or denied service for something we literally cannot control is a constant source of harm for LGBTQ adults and to the youth who can see damn well what’s on the horizon.

So I get that you’re not anti-LGBTQ, and many Republicans aren’t. I am hoping that people will stand with us when it comes to the constant attack on our very existence in society. I know that individual Republicans do and will; I have a very dear Republican friend in Denver whom I know always has my back (and I know he didn’t vote for this mess). But when you look at things like, say, the position on gay marriage of national legislators and see only three senators and two(?) representatives who are Republican, it’s difficult to have any kind of confidence that a significant number of Republicans would take a stand for our rights, let alone our personal safety.  So you’ll forgive me if I’m not holding my breath because for so long, the Republican party as a whole was silent about us dying when it wasn’t outright applauding.

There was silence about the AIDS epidemic. There is silence about the plague of suicide that haunts us because so many kids are trapped in circumstances where they see now other way out and no help on the horizon from a society hostile to their very existence. There is silence about us being murdered, or worse, Republican politicians stoke the flames of gay and trans panic with bathroom bills and campaign advertisements that claim trans women are sexual predators. Remember, I used to be a Republican, once upon a time. I’m a pinko liberal now, but I was still fiscally conservative when I left the party. What drove me away was the ever-increasing, virulently homophobic rhetoric coming from within the party, and from conservative media like Fox News. For me, there wasn’t enough tax policy to justify the harm it was doing to me, my friends, and my community.

And maybe your Republican agenda isn’t the same as the party’s, and I think that’s great. But if you voted for Trump/Pence, you still voted for a VP whose entire political career has been defined by his hatred of gay and transgender individuals. (And now, voted for an administration that wants to fill its cabinet with anti-LGBTQ politicians and professionals, most notably Jeff Sessions and Tom Price.) If you voted for any Republican who has endorsed the platform, you have to own that, just like I have to own that by voting for Barack Obama, I voted for his shameful drone warfare program that’s killed a lot of innocent civilians. I have written letters and made phone calls and protested against it, but that doesn’t mean I get to disown my part in putting him in office and what he’s done with that power.

And if you didn’t vote for Trump/Pence, that’s awesome! I really appreciate it. But please don’t dismiss my concerns, or my fear, for myself and my LGBTQ siblings. I’d like to believe we are going to be fine, that nothing is going to backslide, but I’d be a fool to count on it when the national government is being run by a cadre of people who say our existence is a threat to society.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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