I loathe election season. The former-wanting-to-be-president child within me would scream if they heard adult me utter those words, but here we are. We have a dozen candidates for president, the cycle of pandering ads with dramatic effects is just starting, and I am completely over it. Former teenage anarchist cobwebs aside, I am here to remind those seeking to be elected into office of something that has increasingly become imperative to me. I am not seeking to be courted. While I get to spend the next year of my life listening to people who have never met me – or any actual living, feeling trans person – decide what my rights should be, I would like to remind everyone: My vote is not the priority, my life is, because I am already here.
This week I have been painting my house. Painting has been exhausting, and any hope I had of actually getting it done by Thanksgiving was dashed when I realised it was going to take a dozen coats to turn the canary-yellow walls of my kitchen the desired red without any paint-bleed. I also have been helping train new employees at my day job, and in my spare time I have worked to put together a leadership committee at Hopes so that I don’t burn myself out before the holidays. And all of these things are enough to make the average person feel a little maxed out, and then I check my inbox.
“Looking for a trans perspective about the election and how it makes you feel?”
“Calling for trans persons to write about their stories for the campaign trail!”
“Looking for trans folks looking to help with the campaign.”
That is not counting the ones that get lobbed to Hopes directly, or every time I turn on the television and find myself being discussed as a hypothetical, while I’m standing in my living room eating a tuna sandwich and feeling my ears turn red. And trust me, I get it, I understand our world is constantly evolving. Ten years ago, I was so horribly trapped in a closet that I was getting strangled on sweaters. Now we are everywhere. And that is my point. Just let us exist.
I don’t want a grand parade. I don’t care if you fly the trans pride flag outside of your home. I don’t need you to tell me you watch “Pose” and you love Laverne Cox and Jazz Jennings. All I want, all any trans or enby person living in this country wants is to just be able to exist. I don’t want to turn on the television and see my right to exist in this country being debated like I’m not already here, exhausted from painting and training and smelling like tuna fish. I know Transgender Day of Remembrance is coming up, and as wonderful as the loud proclamations will be, what matters to me a lot more is that I can go to the bathroom and there be a stall to use; or how many glances I’m going to get if I go swimming and everyone can see my binder.
Last week a guest made a Caitlyn Jenner joke at the desk, and I had to stand there and just smile and hand him a key pack. I want to make the world so that garbage stops. If you want my vote, or the vote of any of us; do something to fix that. Make bathroom bills a priority and not an added bonus. Make it so trans kids aren’t killing themselves because we’ve allowed a culture of toxicity to fester due to infighting. Make this country one that embraces me as a person and not just a minority vote. We are here, not just for votes, but to live our lives. And if you really want my vote, I could definitely use help painting.
- Asher Kennedy is a writer, activist, trans-man and cis-nerd living an hour outside of Washington in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. He proudly serves on the board of Hagerstown Hopes (hagerstownhopesmd.org) and has been featured on RoleReboot (rolereboot.org) and is on twitter @ItsAsherK