op-ed: ‘i’m terrified for reproductive and lgbt rights

November 10, 2016

I was laying in bed late Tuesday night, my room pitch black, bile rising to the back of my throat. My phone buzzing from a succession of frightened, confused, and empathetic texts. Trump had won. Too angry to cry, a wave of hopelessness washed over me: Do I still have the right to control my own body? Do my gay and queer friends still have the rights to their families? Are my trans sisters in even more danger than before?

Let me be clear—I’m not afraid of Trump’s win because I’m black. Black Resistance is one of the most powerful phenomena in human history. We’ll be okay no matter what. As a black femme, my resistance to white supremacy will be a life-long battle no matter who is in office. Why? Because, as we see with this election, White People will do whatever it takes to maintain their dominance. Black people have had the time to reconcile this and our organized resistance against it in the 21st century is historic.

In the meantime, this is about the people who can (and will, apparently) lose their rights and humanity in the eyes of the law. I’m not afraid of the unspoken oppression and discrimination that we face as marginalized groups already—I’m terrified of the unlawful stripping of human rights we’ve worked so long and hard to gain.

I cannot depend on black men to viciously protect my rights and agency as a woman whose needs extend beyond my race. Scarier still, and as demonstrated by this election and basically all of history, I cannot depend on my White sisters to put our needs as women ahead of their own loyalty to white supremacy. And I sure as fuck cannot count on either of these groups to rally together and protect my rights as a bisexual femme.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

Trump/Pence ran on a cacophony of hysterical, anti-science, anti-woman legislation promises, including promises to defund Planned Parenthood and the repeal the Affordable Care Act, which currently covers many preventative care measures for people with uteruses, including birth control. If that’s not scary enough, the Vice President-elect is a ruthless advocate of fetal tissue, to the point where he signed virtually every piece of anti-choice legislation that graced his desk as governor of Indiana; including the disgusting HB 1337 which “bans women from seeking abortions based on race, gender or fetal anomaly; it also mandates that women be required to bury or cremate the fetus post-termination.”

Pence has even gone on record to say, “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”

Being faced with the prospect of no longer being able to afford birth control that’s more effective than a condom, and the possibility of needing to seek an illegal abortion, at worst, because a middle age white man thinks he’s more fit to control my body than I am, is utterly horrifying.

Mike Pence’s history of inhumane legislation doesn’t stop with reproductive rights, though. In addition to believing that women should have none, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015, a law that prevents the state passage of laws that may “substantially burden” religious individuals and their businesses. If, for example, human rights are granted to historically oppressed groups and those rights intersect with religious folks, the religious have the right to deny service based on who and what that person is. i.e. if someone is gay or trans, that religious person is legally allowed to deny them services or access.

After high-profile media coverage, protests from corporations and organizations like Angie’s List and the NCAA which threatened to boycott the state of Indiana, RFRA was amended by the Indiana legislature, clarifying that the bill couldn’t be used to discriminate against LGTBQ people.

If that not enough, let’s remember that Pence is also an advocate for public spending on conversation therapy—an inhumane, unscientific practice of torturing queer people into being heterosexual, either through exorcism or electrocution. On the website for his 2000 congressional campaign, Pence said “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage“ and that “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” For real.

Conversion therapy has been banned in five states.

As I write this, we’re transitioning into a country that will have zero checks and balances. Where there will be a Republican House and Senate, and what will certainly be an uber-conservative Supreme Court, who will protect us? What entity will have the power to prevent a series of extremely ignorant and irrational white men from stripping us of the very things that make us independent and free? How can we preserve the decades of sacrifices that were made to get us to where we are? I have no idea. But I do know that We The People will fight back—no matter what.

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.