November 8, 2016 was a night I won’t forget. I watched in disbelief with my family in Massachusetts as Trump won Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Florida. When he won Michigan, my mom asked: “do you really think he is going to win?” At that moment, I knew that last strand of hope was lost. Trump had won, and my family didn’t know whether to be angry, sad, or helpless. We felt all three, and I doubt any of us slept that night. All semblance of hope, the foundation of Obama’s campaign eight years prior, had evaporated.
As both a trans man and a Greek-Iranian American, Trump’s win created a cloud of dread over me. His campaign was structured around racism, xenophobia, and stripping LGBTQ rights. When he announced a proposed visa ban that would have limited my Iranian family members from visiting (I’m Iranian-American, This is What Trump’s America Feels Like), my worst fears came true. As much as I tried to channel my energy into writing and protesting, I had to accept that nothing much would change politically until 2018 at the very earliest. I never anticipated that a year later, I, and the country overall, would bear witness to unprecedented elections.
With hesitation, I looked at my Facebook feed on Wednesday morning to scan the election results. I checked my phone three times before digesting that Danica Roem, an out transgender woman, had won against Republican delegate Bob Marshall. In a poetic act of karma, a trans woman ousted the same politician who had attempted to pass an anti-trans bathroom bill. In a reality-turning spin, voters in this part of conservative Virginia not only elected a Democrat, but a trans woman also.
As I continued scrolling through my news food, I realized that not one, not two, but seven transgender Americans won public office seats (meet the transgender americans who won on election day). In addition to Danica, the first trans woman of color, Andrea Jenkins, won a public office position by winning a city council seat in Minneapolis. This is not only the first time any out transgender person has held a state legislature position, but also the first time seven trans people have won elections in the U.S.
From Virginia to California, Americans voted to reject bigotry and continue forging a path towards equality. The nation proved that it not only believes in trans people, but that we also deserve a seat the political table. As a trans man, I felt an emotion yesterday and today that I hadn’t felt in a year since last November: hope.