Since the presidential election people have been asking about how the results have affected my son. "How is he doing?" they ask, their faces screwed with worry.
I say, "He's doing okay. He's living in Portland and attending Portland State University, an accepting, open safe place for LGBT people. He is surrounded by other like-minded people. He and his friends are frustrated and fired up."
When it was clear on the evening of the election that results were showing a Trump win, my son and his fellow students took to the streets in Portland. What else do you do when what you thought and hoped was going to happen doesn't happen, and what you feared could happen comes to pass?
It was a sudden shock, not unlike an earthquake. When the earth falls out from under your feet most people do not want to be alone. You probably want to get out of your dorm room. You might want to shout or scream. You might want to take a really long walk. You might even want to break things. You want to be with people. Many people took to the streets. They walked, they talked, they shouted and cursed. For the most part, these people were peaceful. There was a lot of attention paid to the few violent acts committed by people who were not peaceful. Thankfully, my son was not part of that.
Amaya told me that as the night wore on it was hard to leave; he didn't know what else to do. Eventually he got so tired he needed to go back to his room. When he got home, still not knowing what to do with himself, he put energy into creating a short video documenting the experience using images he'd captured that evening on his cell phone. He wrote eloquent words and shared his inspiring film on Facebook and other social media. Currently it has over 3000 views on Facebook.
This video struck chords deep inside me. My husband and I and many others were moved to tears after reading our son's words and watching his film. So many people contacted me to tell me how his words and video affected them. They said he was inspiring, courageous, "a light in the darkness" as one person put it.
I remain inspired by his action, not only because of this one film, but because of what it represents; the future. The next generation is coming of age and they are a rising force. This election has rallied young voices like we haven't seen in many years. This generation will have to fight for rights many have taken for granted, such as a woman's right to choose and freedom of the press. But they can't do it alone. We all need to fight for these rights.
The fire of youth sparks my own flame. I intend to be a voice for those who do not have one, to stand up for what I know is right. I know I must, even if I am tired or bored or overwhelmed or discouraged. There is much work to be done, and I have tools that are needed.
So much work to do. It's curious to me that most people I talk to focus their concern on my transgender child, but they don't ask how my other kids were affected. Yes, this change of course in the presidential administration might have very deep implications for my son who is transgender. Over 50 so-called "bathroom bills" have been introduced in the U.S. to legislate where people pee. Some states still allow discrimination based on gender in the workplace, and some even allow firing someone simply because they are transgender. Senator Ted Cruz is promising a revisit of the proposed First Amendment Defense Act that will basically give permission for people to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs. This is a very dangerous and very real threat to the safety of LGBTQ people, and the implications of such a bill becoming law frighten and anger me.
But I worry equally for my daughter and stepson as well.
My adult daughter is a young woman living in the New York City area. She is often the target of catcalls. Empowered by a "pussy-grabbing" PEOTUS, will this boorish behavior increase or escalate? She says she feels anxious in large crowds due to the potential for violence. Will this next administration, known for vitriol directed at Muslims and other minorities throughout the campaign, make us safer? With a PEOTUS who has threatened to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and deeply embraces support from the alt-right, I fear not.
And what about my stepson and his family living in rural Oregon, raising two daughters on a beekeeper's salary? They are a hard-working, young family. They depend on the Affordable Healthcare Act for their health and well-being. Will tax breaks for the rich help them? Will school vouchers that pull desperately needed funds from public schools help them? Will my granddaughters have reproductive rights?
And what of my young friend who was brought here at age five by her parents, who sought a better life for their children? Now an adult raising her own daughters in California, my friend was an undocumented minor raised in America. Because of the Dream Act she was able to receive an education, she earned high grades, and she has much to contribute. What will happen to her, her family, and others like them under the new administration?
Fretting does me no good, nor will it change a thing. Instead, it is empowering to shift that anxious energy and move it toward something useful. So, I continue to serve food to the homeless. I too, like my son, have taken to the streets to march for peace and justice and civil rights in the face of the incoming administration. I write and call my legislators. I do my best to educate myself from credible news sources. I donate to causes that align with my principles. I write this blog. It sometimes feels like all that I do adds up to just a tiny drop in an ocean that needs so much more rain than I can give. These words from Mother Teresa comfort me:
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.