I consider myself politically engaged. During the 2012 election, I volunteered with Rock the Vote. I stood at tables on campus and went door-to-door to dorm rooms to get people registered. I talked to fellow students about sending in their absentee ballots. I went to events where we watched the political debates as a group and then discussed them.
This presidential election, I’ve tried to remain on top of it all. After all, there’s nothing more powerful than being politically knowledgeable and engaged, and using that knowledge to enact change. I was thoroughly engaged throughout the primary elections, listening to both Democratic and Republican debates and reading up on third party candidates. But as time went on, the primary elections ended, and we were left with our main party candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Despite my interest in politics, I’ve had to step back from the election as of late. I’m a marginalized woman; I’m queer and disabled. And I can’t listen to anything more from Donald Trump or his supporters.
Trump anxiety is a real thing. I’ve never been particularly anxious before, but now I’m anxious all the time. Political debate nights are the worst, because I can’t avoid the horrible things Trump says. Even going online is a risky venture, and I’m bound to run into a news article that’ll send my heart racing, or a Facebook thread filled with Trump supporters.
I’m registered to vote as an Independent, although I usually vote Democrat. But I typically have no problem engaging in debates with conservatives and Republicans. It doesn’t bother me that some of my friends and family members share different political views than I do, or that we’re voting for different candidates. I’m open-minded to hearing what others have to say.
This election season has been different. Trump has shown his discrimination toward marginalized people time and time again. He’s openly antagonistic toward the Muslim community. He mocks people with disabilities. His policies would negatively affect LGBTQ+ people. His recently released tape proves that he’s okay with sexual assaulting women.
As a queer, disabled woman, I find everything about him as a candidate sickening. And almost worse is the fact that so many people agree with him and support him, and are planning on voting for him. There are times when I freeze up during political discussions because I don’t want to even hear it if someone’s planning on supporting Trump. It doesn’t matter to me what potential good they think he’d do for this country—his policies actively harm marginalized people. They actively harm me. Many women have spoken up about how Trump reminds them of abusive men who have been in their life; while this isn’t my experience, it does remind me of every time I’ve been threatened by a bully, of every time that I’ve felt my safety was in danger as a marginalized person.
Listening to political debates and reading about what horrible things Trump has said this week or what insensitive policies he’d like to enact can be damaging. It makes me feel unsafe as a citizen of this country. It makes me seriously fear for my future and the future of people I love from marginalized communities. It makes me fear the privileged voters who have nothing to lose by supporting him, and throwing us under the bus.
This election season, I’m asking my privileged allies: Stand up for us. For many of us, not engaging on social media is a self-defense tactic. Some of us may need to step back from participating in order to feel safe. We’re exhausted, we’re scared, and we’re tired of being the only ones defending ourselves. Fight back when you hear about something Trump or his supporters have done. Step in on social media and defend marginalized groups and show that you’re a truly ally. It’s clear that many women and allies have stepped up to the plate in light of his recently revealed sexual assault comments, but allies also need to continually do better. You need to stand up even when it’s not all women potentially under attack, but every marginalized community. You need to show Trump and his supporters that this isn’t okay.
We need you. And we see you.