Joelle Gates: Donald Trump does not define my existence

Throughout my transition I’ve had to fight for what I’ve wanted, and it seems as though I’ll have to start fighting harder. Oct. 21 the Trump administration unveiled a new plan to derail the transgender community by seeking to redefine sex as male or female, unchangeable and determine by genitals present at birth. This would cause a major shift for transgender Americans as a legal definition would be set into place to change the protections of Title IX, a federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in educational programs that are funded by the government.

This announcement was scary and disappointing. I’m a transgender woman in America, and I just want to live freely without constantly defending this freedom.

When I came out as transgender, my mom disputed my request for seeking hormones by saying she knew me better than myself; she said that there was no way I was transgender. The conversation was hard, and I felt like she had turned her back on me, but I didn’t let this phase me. My mind was made, and I was tired of waiting to live my life. I swiped my insurance card from her purse, made an appointment and found a way to live my life. 

My story is very similar to what is happening in America right now. Our very own president has turned his back on the transgender community and has said that he and his administration understand trans people better than they know themselves. They are actively seeking to negatively affect the progress and acceptance my community has fought for. 

From personal experience, I can tell you that gender designated at birth doesn’t always work. There will always be outliers who feel as though they don’t belong and that’s okay. It takes an extraordinary person to be trans. Not many people would risk giving up their family’s support and love, or chance being harassed or alienated just for existing. And according to the Human Rights Campaign, over the past three years the transgender murder rate has reached a new high each year. So, let me be clear: nobody would choose this life unless they knew for a fact that living authentically would be worth it. 

I believe the Trump administration has been targeting transgender Americans because they believe the trans population isn’t significant, but according to a 2016 study provided by the Williams Institute, 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender. 

Trans people have been here since the beginning of time and they will continue to be here long after Trump and his administration. This isn’t a fight that America wants but it’s one that will happen if it needs to. 

With November just around the corner, now is the time for transgender individuals and allies to rise and vote. We must send the clear message that America has no place for hate, discrimination and ignorance. Our voices must be heard. 

Throughout my transition I’ve had to fight for what I’ve wanted, and it seems as though I’ll have to start fighting harder because this fight is worth it; my happiness is worth it. 

Joelle Gates can be contacted at [email protected]