The months leading up to the 2016 election were ones that were for me, as a member of the LGBT+ community, full of fear and uncertainty. Same-sex marriage had only been legalized nationwide 16 months before, and the Republican candidate’s running mate Mike Pence was known for his regressive views on LGBT+ rights such as supporting conversion therapy and opposing same-sex marriage.
My frustration was exacerbated by the fact that I was 15 and was therefore ineligible to vote. And I watched as many of the adults in my life, who had previously been lifelong voters, refused to vote in the 2016 election because they felt they couldn’t wholeheartedly support either candidate. And then I watched as Donald Trump was elected president and Mike Pence vice president. I decided that the moment I was eligible to vote I would never skip an election.
These past four years have continued to be very frustrating for me as I have watched a president I never voted for (or even had the chance to vote against) pass policies that I did not agree with. To name a few, under the Trump administration protections against discrimination in health care and homeless shelters for transgender individuals have been rolled back, the Department of Justice filed a court brief stating that private businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBT+ customers and other heinous policies unrelated to LGBT+ rights have also been instituted. I was alarmed and furious that my trans peers could be denied potentially life-saving services — or that I could be denied service because of my sexuality.
If Trump is reelected there will be nothing to stop him from continuing to take away these and other important rights. It is likely that the Trump administration will attempt to ensure that the costs that come with transitioning are no longer covered by Medicaid, something that would greatly harm the trans community. Additionally, the administration will continue to deny asylum to those seeking protection from violence based in hatred for the LGBT+ community. Those who would be affected by this are unable to vote, as they are not citizens of the United States, but would be put in potentially life threatening situations if Trump were to be re-elected. (Of course, Trump is only able to make these changes because of the conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court and in the Senate, so make sure to vote for your senator too!)
This is all to say, go vote in this upcoming election. Even if you’re not especially passionate about either candidate. Biden may not be the champion of marginalized communities that some of us would like, but at least he will not do the same aforementioned active harm as Trump — Biden plans to enact protections for LGBT+ individuals. There are so many who are unable to vote, most for reasons more egregious than not yet being 18, who will be affected by the results of the election. When you vote you are using this privilege to protect those who are unable to. Every single person in America who does not vote in the election — either because they could not or because they would not — will have to live under whoever is elected. Information on how to vote in your state can be found here, and the link to register to vote can be found here.
So, go participate in this civic duty and vote!
Contact Isabella Saracco at isaracco ‘at’ stanford.edu.