I woke up to the news I had been dreading. There it was, spelled out in the notifications on my phone. The Washington Post informed me that “Donald Trump sworn in as the 45th U.S. President, giving the GOP control of the White House and Congress for the first time since 2006.” and the other end of the spectrum; Fox News kept it simple, “President Trump takes office.” Donald Trump became the president. I tried to distract myself as I got ready for the day, unable to hold back the tears that kept welling up with each new notification. It didn’t seem real. I knew the pain, confusion, anger, and fear that I and so many others were feeling was only just beginning. So I spent the morning of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration exercising the right that I fear losing most. I went to Planned Parenthood to access quality reproductive healthcare services.
As I drove to Planned Parenthood, I listened to Trump’s inauguration speech — more of the same general statements about how he’ll “make America great again” without any explanation as to how he intends to do so. I arrived, turned off my car, and walked into Planned Parenthood with my head held high. Donald Trump might be the president, but my body was and is still mine to take care of. Inside, I was greeted immediately by a receptionist, smiling warmly as she asked for my ID and insurance. For the first time ever, I used my Medicaid card. Like many Americans, since I finished college, I’ve worked multiple part-time jobs, and health care is only accessible and affordable to me because of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. The receptionist checked me in and I took a seat. A quiet radio in the corner was playing Alessia Cara’s ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’ which felt like a perfect anthem for this personal march. The song says, “you do not need to change a thing, the world can change its heart.” As I sat in that waiting room, I thought about all of the different types of beautiful people in our country and about how we cannot allow anything or anyone to squander their potential. We must help the world change its heart.
My name was called and a kind and friendly nurse introduced herself. Side note: I truly believe you have to be super kind and wonderful to work here. Immediately she made me feel comfortable, walking me through all the different resources available for my reproductive health, connecting personally with me, and laughing. After I answered a series of questions and mentioned that breast cancer ran in my family, she provided me with resources for breast cancer counseling and prevention. I asked how she liked working at Planned Parenthood, and she smiled, replying simply that she loved it. She loved helping people better understand their bodies, sexual health, and options for care. She loved helping people. The doctor then came in and she was the sweetest woman that carried a very nurturing spirit reminiscent of a loving family member. She professionally answered all of my questions but provided such a comforting environment. We also discussed different ways that I could get involved at Planned Parenthood. What I saw most in her was that she loves what she does and enjoys connecting with her patients. It’s not just for the money or to make a statement, but because Planned Parenthood wants to help women and men who may not have the means or resources to access proper reproductive health services. They are educators who provide no shame or guilt with their resources. They are incredible warriors fighting for reproductive rights and doing it with so much grace and knowledge.
I walked out smiling after receiving the care I needed with exceptional service and additional education and pledged to myself that I want to be here for the fight, to ensure all of our voices, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender identity and expression, economic status, age, or disability are heard as women in Donald Trump’s America. The next day, I took part in a sister march for the Women’s March to stand in solidarity with thousands of women and men across the world to send a clear message that, among so many other things, we will stand up for our bodies and our rights against any attempt by Republicans (or anyone) to take those freedoms and basic human rights away from us. Nor will the federal, state, or local government have any say over my personal decisions for my body. This is my country. I am a citizen with a voice and I am using this President’s rhetoric, actions, and stance as my fuel to take action for what I believe is right. You will not degrade human rights, Trump.