An anecdote to lead off: Back in October, I joined fellow members of a trans support group at the OutReach Awards Banquet. One of our cis-gender allies joined us, and at first, she wasn’t sure exactly which table was which, but she checked her table number on her name tag and, by coincidence, sat right next to me. Ours was Table 44. “Good,” she chuckled, “because I like ’44’ better than ’45.'”
Note the quote marks around “44” and “45” in that last sentence, for our friend wasn’t joking about the tables on that night. No, hers was a remark about the era in which we’re stuck in right now. One year ago this weekend, You Know Who formally and officially became the 45th You Know What. In the 52 weeks since then, it’s felt as if we’ve collectively turned around an endless line of dark corners, each bend darker than the one before it. There are far too many of those dark corners to be specific about here, though I should note the latest… er, one of the latest of dark corners from this week concerned an “overhaul” of the Department of Health & Human Services’ Civil Rights Office. The proposal would add a division that protects those in the medical profession who desire to “profess their religious expressions,” up to and including their objections to providing services or caring for people they have religious objections to, including abortions or treatment to trans patients.
Needless to say, government decisions such as that one, combined with the toxic culture that You Know Who has fostered since taking office a year ago, have emboldened those who blindly support him and think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread… despite the self-evident proof (this weekend and historically) that he is less the effective leader and reverent person he professes to be, and more of the reprehensible human being he has always been. Lest you think it’s just a national-level concern, this culture has permeated up and down all levels of government. Here in Wisconsin, even before You Know Who became You Know What, the idiocy of our state government had been running rampant since 2011. Case in point: A proposal put forth this week in our state legislature that would “unify” discrimination laws at local levels, forbidding municipalities from enacting and enforcing their own employment discrimination laws, leaving 12 classes losing anti-discrimination safeguards due to their citizenship, their gender identity, whether or not they practice a certain religion, their employment or domicile status, and even their physical appearance.
Luckily, though, there are multitudes more people who have stood strong and stood up in the face of health and environmental care being weakened, civil rights being reversed, science being denied, lies being told, people with dreams being silenced or turned away, the rich getting preferential treatment, and a misogynistic and bigoted culture running rampant — moves that all have been propagated by You Know Who and his minions. No doubt, the touchstone of that resistance (other than Election Day 2016, of course) was a not-so-little something that occurred one day after You Know Who became You Know What, the Women’s March that occurred in cities around the United States, including the mammoth march up State Street towards the State Capitol right here in Madison.
The Women’s March movement is doing it again this weekend, the one-year anniversary of that first march, with a big event in Las Vegas and some smaller events across the United States, including events right here in Wisconsin (in Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Milwaukee). Unfortunately, I have not heard of any Women’s March Anniversary events here in Madison. If there were such an event here this weekend, I would’ve loved to don something pink and joined others who are fighting in the face of tyranny.
More important than whether or not your hometown has a Women’s March of any kind is the need to stay vigilant and steel-spined strong in the face of this dark era in our country’s — and our planet’s — history. Speak up however you can, whether you’re marching, painting signs, telling your stories and concerns… and more importantly, voting. Speaking up and making a stand gets results, as the notable election results since last November (including earlier this week in northwestern Wisconsin) have indubitably proven.
Our country at least 3 more dark years ahead of us hopefully no more than that and possibly less than that if You Know Who is incontrovertibly shown to have dastardly pulled strings in order to gain power. But if we continue to stand up, stay strong, and make our voices heard, these next 3 years will… well, I can’t say the next 3 years will be easy (because they won’t be), but they will be a battle against darkness and fairness that we can win. Stay strong and stay unstoppable.