A few weeks ago, something significant happened. On Election Day, we experienced a critical victory for several transgender candidates. Instead of relying on opposition politics and the fumbling of an unqualified administration, the left has managed to handily win gubernatorial races in both Virginia and New Jersey, as well as state government positions across several other states.
Though hatred and ignorance impact us all, certain demographics draw fire from the populist and white supremacist movements responsible for the ascension of Trump. Transgender people, in particular, have been thrown under the bus by the powers that be. Here’s a brief timeline.
Liberalism and LGBTQ Voters
The transgender population, traditionally pigeonholed as a solid far-left voting bloc, battles infringement on the daily. The GOP, in catering to religious fundamentalism and far-right bigotry, historically stands in opposition to any progressive freedoms for LGBTQ folks.
However, the liberalism that seemingly represents the transgender individual’s social rights is also not necessarily as welcoming as it appears, and many transgender voters have become disillusioned by both sides of the political spectrum.
As is often the case, many transgender voters had the unpleasant choice of voting for social freedom or economic conservatism. Up until the 2016 elections, this often involved biting the bullet and voting left.
The Trump Campaign
Then Trump showed up.
Though his campaign was controversial and became increasingly tainted by prejudice and ugliness, at first there had been a shred of hope that there was a Republican candidate who had seemingly divorced himself from the entrenched party of southern Evangelism and political tradition. Though it would prove to be only lip service, Trump once spoke of the LGBTQ community as though they were potential voters who deserved respect. Many saw this as a façade, but some dared to believe.
In short order, that hope fell apart. Trump was in office, and suddenly, any inclusive rhetoric faded. The wall took priority over the empty promises of social equality. Twitter rants became mainstays, weekday installments in a spiral of ineptitude and finger-pointing.
Seemingly out of left field, Trump took to Twitter and called for a transgender ban in the military. In one of the most puzzling political developments to date, this proclamation claimed transgender individuals serving in the military were sapping its budget, sowing disunity in the ranks. Even more bizarre, none of the top military brass or Pentagon administration seemed to know the directive was coming.
As with so many of Trump’s actions, the transgender ban was immediately mired in controversy and legally challenged. The Pentagon has been leery of implementing any such policy, and the administration has not made progress in drafting its promise into law. Still, it is impossible to overstate the shock and confusion surrounding this announcement.
Tuesday, November 7
Finally, after all of this, there was the first sign of victory. The president’s unpopularity likely helped sway the New Jersey and Virginia races in the favor of progressive candidates, and many on the left are now looking towards the midterms with renewed hopes.
Eight transgender candidates running for various state positions across the country won office two Tuesdays ago, a moment of inspiration for those watching, and a clear repudiation of Trumpism.
In an era of open attacks on the misunderstood and underrepresented, political presence is at the height of necessity. Not only is the election of transgender candidates beneficial for transgender rights in the short run, but it is also instrumental for encouraging future generations of political advocates from a group with no shortage of hardship and political alienation.