President-Elect Trump, Here’s All The Ways You’ll Hurt My Children
By Mary J. Brown
In Donald Trump’s victory speech, he pledged to be president for all Americans. He asked for guidance from those who didn’t support him in order “to unify our great country.”
I’m taking him at his word. Here is my response.
Dear Mr. Trump,
I voted for your opponent because I believed in the core of my being that she would be the best president to ensure a bright future for our economy and all Americans. While I certainly would’ve preferred her to be less cozy with Wall Street, I admire her decades of commitment to public service and for that alone, she deserved my vote. But my vote for Hillary Clinton was also a vote against you and the misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and bigotry that have been the hallmark of your presidential campaign. Because you — purportedly — reached out for help and guidance, I’d like to share where I’m coming from before I give you any advice. Allow me to explain a few things about myself.
My family is multi-racial and Jewish. My mother is a first generation immigrant. We’ve watched with horror as your campaign and your supporters adopted hate speech and symbols from Nazi Germany and the segregated South, reanimating disgusting tableaus of our own shameful past. Our safety — while always tenuous — has been completely compromised; the many white Americans who voted to put you in office because of your hateful rhetoric — rather than in spite of it — now feel free to act on their racist, sexist, and bigoted thoughts. Given the recent outbreak of swastika vandalism, harassment, and physical attacks on people who are non-white or non-Christian, is it any wonder I feel unsafe for the first time in the country of my birth?
I have three children. One is single, sexually active, and responsibly using birth control, but she knows that every method has some failure rate. She is terrified that you will successfully appoint Supreme Court justices who will in turn roll back Roe v. Wade and eliminate her reproductive rights. There’s already one vacancy on the court and by the end of your term, three additional justices will be older than the average retirement age. (We’re hoping Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and Stephen Breyer stay in very, very good health.) Will my daughter be forced into the kind of back-room abortions that killed and sterilized so many women before 1973?
My other two children are still in middle school. One is gay, and just beginning to be comfortable with that identity. She was exuberant over last year’s high court decision that established gay marriage as a national right. We celebrated as a family and a community. As she contemplates her own coming out process, she’s wondering whether the America she fell asleep in that fateful Tuesday night will accept her today. Can she look forward to the same future that your five children take for granted? Will she have the freedom to marry whom she chooses, raise children with her wife, and enjoy the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that this country purports to be predicated on?
My third child is transgender. We’ve just begun the transition process, thanks to health-care benefits that cover the high cost of puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones. We’re also a military family, a demographic you claim to support — sort of. We worry that once you take office, you will eliminate the coverage that is vital to my son’s physical and emotional health. We wonder if he’ll be able to safely travel to North Carolina, Texas, and other red states that voted to put you in office amid anti-gay, anti-liberal rhetoric. Will he internalize the transphobia growing ever more rampant in our society and commit suicide?
So here’s what you can do if you’d like to persuade me and the millions of people that you claim to want to work with that you are sincere and won’t assault our civil rights:
Disavow the racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic threats
and violence by your supporters.
Throughout the campaign and especially on election night, your supporters repeatedly threatened to kill Jews, hang African Americans, and assault women and Latinos. Racist attacks have spread in the wake of the election, in schools, universities and public spaces across the country, targeting women, racial minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities, and those who identify as LGBTQ+. If you want marginalized groups of people to believe they are safe in your America, it’s past time for you to unequivocally and publicly condemn these views as loudly and with as much conviction as you perpetuated them.
Start building bridges with leaders in our communities of color, and put a lid — tight — on the whitelash that has subjected so many racial minorities to harassment, threats, and violence. Rethink the decision to make white nationalist sympathizer Steve Bannon the chief strategist in your White House. It will take more than saying “stop it” on one television program to reverse the hatred you’ve unleashed.
Pledge to respect our constitution
and do it.
Specifically, you’ve promised to jail Sen. Hillary Clinton and eliminate the freedom of the press. You’ve given every indication of believing the U.S. presidency is a dictatorship. Please make a public statement that shows you recognize the important role the courts and Congress play in our political system as a check on executive power. Promise to use presidential authority only for the good of the country, and not to settle old grudges or further your personal power. Pledge to uphold the First Amendment.
Appoint moderates to the Supreme Court.
The only thing keeping me upright this past week (aside from copious caffeine and Advil) is the hope that you adopted a conservative anti-choice platform as a ploy to get the religious right into your camp. Please prove me right by appointing Supreme Court justices who will respect the constitution and the 150 years of legal progress since the Civil War nearly tore our country apart. The majority of the country — 55% — favors gay marriage and 56% believes abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Please, don’t reverse the course of social progress by naming pro-life conservatives to our highest court.
One of the scariest prospects of a Trump presidency, to me, is the likelihood that your rhetoric about Islam and world governance will create a more dangerous world for all our children. Dozens of prominent Republican national security experts denounced your candidacy, saying you’d be the most reckless president in history. There’s a reason the world’s current dictators wanted you to win the election: Your hate speech breeds more ISIS recruits and weakens the United States’ credibility and power.
Please affirm the U.S. commitment to our allies, NATO, and a safer world, and reconsider your casual attitude toward nuclear weapons. Our markets, the global economy, and any semblance of world peace depend on your ability to take a measured, steady approach to diplomacy.
As my kids and I saw the election returns come in, I watched in dawning shock and horror and then clamped down my own emotion. My oldest daughter sobbed as you racked up electoral votes. But I didn’t want to scare my younger children with the truth that I instantly feared for their safety as LQBTQ identified people of color in this country — far more than before election night.
I wonder how they can grow in strength and confidence when at the very moment they are forming their core identities, their nation has told them they are unworthy because of their gender, their identity, their race. That they don’t belong. That they don’t deserve to live.
I will admit that moving to another country crossed my mind, but I bristle at the idea that the country of my birth — the country I love — would lose progressive hearts and minds where they are so dearly needed.
When my kids finally collapsed into bed at 1 a.m., my husband and I dissolved into sobs together. Nine days later, I’m still in shock. It seems like a waking nightmare. Since the election, LGBTQ+ children have considered suicide, asked their parents if President Trump will subject them to electroshock conversion “therapy,” and experienced harassment at the hands of their classmates.
Are my children next?
When I saw you on stage in the wee hours of election night, magnanimously speaking of Hillary Clinton’s service to our country, I desperately wanted to believe your words. I love America, and I hope dearly that it will, one day, be great.
Frightened — But Not Defeated — Mother of Three
Lead Image: Modified from Flickr / lookcatalog