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Being Queer in Trump’s America
Although the term “queer” originated as a slur, the LGBTQ community has reclaimed it and redefined it to mean “someone who isn’t heterosexual and cisgendered (someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth).” This way, the entire community can be represented with a single word even if their sexual/gender identity isn’t covered by “lesbian gay bisexual transgender”. It is also why many have added the Q to the end of “LGBT.” “LGBT+” is also used to be more inclusive of all identities without having to directly identify all of them. The term “queer” is sometimes used by people who know they aren’t straight, but haven’t yet decided how to identify their sexuality, or don’t think any other terms accurately define their sexuality.
On Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016, America held its breath as votes were cast, counted, and reported by news networks across the country. Upon President Donald Trump’s inauguration, some breathed a sigh of relief, but others are still holding their breath waiting for what might happen next. The LGBTQ community, also referred to as the queer community, is still on edge due to Trump’s Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence.
Zoë Church, a Junior attending Dwyer High School who identifies as pansexual (someone who can be attracted to any gender), commented, “[Trump] has put fear in the LGBT+ community and power within the homophobic community.” Pence has publicly stated his views on the community and his support of conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a highly controversial practice where people are manipulated into “becoming straight.” Conversion therapy includes electroshock therapy among other horror movie-esque practices. Those who understand what it’s like to be part of the LGBTQ community know that you can’t “become straight,” and people are born with their sexual orientation. They know that no amount of therapy can change who someone is attracted to or what gender they identify as.
Dwyer Sophomore Isabelle Smith, who identifies as straight, agreed. “I have a lot of close friends and even family in the LGBT community so I have strong opinions and emotions about [laws regarding them].”
A clearly anti-LGBTQ person in a position of power and influence has caused many people to be afraid of coming out of the closet (becoming open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, sometimes shortened to the phrase “coming out”). Closeted queers fear that they will face a dangerous situation if they come out in today’s political and social environment. Minors in the closet have even more to fear, including being kicked out of their homes and becoming homeless, being forced into conversion therapy, and harassment at school, at home, and in public. According to www.americanprogress.org, LGBTQ teens are twice as likely to drop out of high school compared to their straight, cisgendered counterparts.
On Wednesday Feb. 22, the White House removed the federal guidelines put in place by former President Barack Obama allowing students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity rather than the gender on their birth certificate. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference, “This is a states’ rights issue and not one that the federal government should be involved in.” However, without federal protection, many students are more likely to face bullying and discrimination.
A Dwyer Junior who identifies as asexual (someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction) and has asked not to be named for fear of backlash said, “I don’t know what’s more infuriating and distressing: the fact that [Trump] and his administration are putting these policies and ideals in place, or the fact that they got elected while voicing these intentions.” According to multiple sources including The New York Times and Fox News, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos tried to fight the repeal out of concern for transgender students being bullied, but had to agree or be forced to resign. However, Spicer has denied these reports and said that DeVos is in complete support of President Trump’s actions.
The possibility of some support in the White House brings hope to the LGBTQ community, but not much considering how ineffective it has been.
A Dwyer Senior who identifies as queer and has also asked to not have their name given commented, “People no longer need to be PC [politically correct] because our president isn’t, and that means that as the days go by, the more and more afraid I am of living as a minority in America.”