Trans (and Republican) in the time of Trump

Fair-weather friends aren’t needed at a time like this

SINCE COMING TO TERMS with my identity, I cannot recall all the times that I’ve been called brave and strong. I remind people that coming out has nothing to do with strength and everything to do with survival. It’s something that needed to happen if I ever wanted to have a truly authentic life. Truth be told, those individuals who attempt to deprive us of the basic liberties and protections afforded all other Americans are the actual strong ones. Carrying the broken hearts, crushed dreams, and repeatedly shaken spirits of millions of LGBTQ+ constituents, young students, and now even our own military on your shoulders is truly an impressive task.

To those individuals, many who have made a home in our national Republican Party, the humanity of their fellow LGBTQ+ citizens is simply a policy that can be debated on social media. Voices claiming to represent the working-class American go silent when it comes to our rights to fair employment, public accommodations, and housing protections. Standing for “national defense” now means ushering in state-sanctioned discrimination against members of the military in the name of what President Trump reasoned as “military readiness” and “financial burdens.”

But the reach of these policies extends far past the LGBTQ+ community, as those same individuals also carry the heartbreak of the straight and cisgender community. By feeding the flames of ugly bigotry that there’s something wrong with their friends, siblings, and children, families are pushed to war amongst themselves. Complacency with our most destructive social policies is shredding the modern American family, that moral foundation our Republican Party claims to represent.

As one news cycle shifts into the next, the damage of the most recent setback – a presidential endorsement of banning transgender troops from the armed services in all capacities – has already been done. While the initial shock will soon fade from public discourse, the associated stigma of such disparaging statements will resonate long after. The damaging trope of “otherness,” a result of the arguments against our place in society, only empowers efforts like the ballot initiative to rollback transgender protections set to appear on our state ballot in the coming year.

Speaking as one of a growing number of LGBTQ+ activists within the Republican Party, we don’t exist to excuse our own party’s attacks against us. We exist to show how standing for public safety means supporting housing, employment, and public accommodation protections, not policies which put us on the street and deny us access to basic goods and services because of our orientations and identities. We exist to show how personal freedom means the freedom to live your life as you see fit in a way that doesn’t put others at harm. We exist to show how responsible government means defending our rights, not pushing for invasive bathroom bills and efforts to undercut our civil rights protections with the goal of death by a thousand paper cuts.  

At the end of the day, it is still my decision to walk this political path. It’s a decisions A decision that has frequently earned me harsh criticism from my LGBTQ+ family, especially my fellow transgender Americans. The number of state governments introducing bills to diminish the rights of our community easily outnumber the number of transgender Americans in elected policy-making positions nationwide, so their rancor is born from personal experience. Even then, I still firmly believe that reaching the tens of millions of fiscally prudent and socially inclusive Americans across the country who identify with the Republican Party, especially those at home in our great state, is necessary for achieving true equality and freedom – and keeping it.

In fairness, some of you have been actively showing other members of our party how we can move forward on these issues. Some of you have used your position to call out the failures of your colleagues. Some of you are still fighting that good fight and doing what it takes to move forward on these issues, . As the evolution of policymakers such as Gov. Charlie Baker and Rep. Sheila Harrington demonstrate, even those of you won once actively stood in opposition can become vocal and effective allies. Most importantly, whatever you’re doing cannot be a passive effort or a simple, onetime occurrence.

With every new setback to happen this year, I’ve looked my loved ones in the eyes and told them that I’ve seen you and I’ve heard you and I sincerely believe that you care about our fight. But caring passively and caring loudly have two very distinct meanings. To those friends and colleagues in the Republican Party who claim to stand by us, it’s now or never. If things are ever going to amount to more than just lip service, you simply cannot let it be left to scattered pockets of people, so many of whom seem to take a stand when it’s politically convenient. You cannot simply let other members speak for you if you truly believe we’re people worthy of your voice.

The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t need fair-weather friends. The community needs loud allies, allies who not only vote when it matters but shout that they’ve voted. The community needs allies who stand against dangerous ballot initiatives, dangerous language in our Republican Party platform, and, most importantly, stand as candidates themselves. This is the rare instance where words might be more important than private votes. We need you and we need you now, and if you refuse to lend us your voice during a time when we need it the most, then your support is nothing.

Meet the Author

Jordan Evans

Library trustee, Town of Charlton
Or so, it would appear to you, are we.

Jordan Evans is an elected member of the Charlton Public Library board of trustees and the town constable.