Before He Takes Office: 6 Things LGBT Folks Can Do Right Now
Donald Trump has already had his first visit to the White House. Before you know it, the holidays will be over and the Trump Administration will have begun. If you’re anything like me you may be feeling a bit helpless at the moment. Still there are things we can be doing right now to prepare. Here are six tips:
#GetCovered Before the Innauguration
Donald Trump said in one of his speeches “When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.” (LA Times)
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, no American can be dropped or denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition like HIV; and more Americans have access to health insurance than ever before. So how do we fight to keep it? One way is to make sure you and everyone you know sign up! If there is a surge in in open-enrollment, it will show Congress just how important the Affordable Care Act is, and we are well on our way. Over 100,000 folks signed up for a healthcare plan the day after the election. To learn more and find out where you can get help choosing a plan visit www.out2enroll.org.
Update Legal Documents if Needed.
Advances during the Obama Administration have made it easier for transgender folks to update their Social Security Administration (SSA) cards as well as Passports to reflect their gender identity. We haven’t seen Donald Trump comment specifically on this issue, but better to be safe than sorry. Encourage the people they love to go ahead and update their legal documents if needed. If you don’t know where to begin, start by contacting your local LGBT Community Center. Chances are, they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Recommit to your State and Local LGBT Advocacy Organization
With Republican control of the House, Senate, and Oval Office, we need to seriously adjust our expectations for what progress we can make at the national level. There are many states, however, where a path forward is more clear. Vice President Elect Mike Pence supports conversion therapy for LGBT youth. Do you know if your state has banned conversion therapy? New York State has a plan to end new HIV infections by 2020. Does yours? Does your state have a comprehensive non-discrimination policy? Several cities have passed gender-neutral bathroom laws. What about where you live? Every victory at the state and local level moves us forward, and makes it harder for those who want to roll back progress at the national level. Click here to connect with your State LGBT Equality Group and find out how you can help.
Learn the New Rules of Engagement
LGBT Advocacy looks a lot different when you’ve been invited into the White House than it does when you’re standing outside the White House with a protest sign. Around the country we are seeing people take to the streets. It’s an encouraging sign. But just like there are a set of skills you need to know to be an effective inside player, there are skills you need to have to be an effective outside player. You need a plan to be effective, you need to train people before the protest. You need to have a plan if someone get’s arrested or harassed by the police. These are just a few things to take into consideration.
Fortunately, the LGBT Community has a proud tradition to build on. Kelly Cogswell has done a brilliant job documenting the direct action organizing of the Lesbian Avengers in her book Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger. Another brilliant source of inspiration is Sean Strub’s book on AIDS activism entitled: Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival.
Focus Less on Your Marriage and More on Concerns of Trans and Queer People of Color (TQPOC)
There are a lot of issues LGBT folks should have on the radar in in the first 100 Days of the Trump Administration, but Marriage Equality is not one of them. According to the Human Rights Campaign “It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely. It’s a binding decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress and Donald Trump cannot unilaterally undo marriage equality. Currently, all five justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality are still on the bench, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. It’s hard to imagine how we lose marriage equality.”
A lot of the most pressing concerns, are the ones that impact Trans individuals, LGBTQ Muslims, and LGBTQ People of Color. Here are some things Trump could conceivably do on day one.
- Rescind the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination on day one. (more info)
- Begin deporting undocumented immigrants (more info)
- Ban Muslims from entering the country (more info)
It’s not clear that any of these things will actually happen, but they are all on the table. Now more than ever, it’s important that we are all looking out for each other. And that means that at this moment it’s important for white and cis LGBT folks to listen to and center the voices of trans and queer people of color.
Bring Back the Stonewall Democrats
At one time the Stonewall Democrats, the national network for LGBT Democrats, was a powerful player for the Democrats, comprised of over 90 local chapters. While many of the local chapters are still active, the national organization that supported them, dissolved years ago. And the groups no longer have a national gathering, or many ways of communicating and learning from each other.
One thing we have definitely learned from this election is that the Democratic party infrastructure at the state and local level is not what we thought it was. We need that to change, and the fact that Howard Dean has expressed interest in returning to the DNC is a promising sign. We can turn things around, but the LGBT community has to do it’s part. That starts by investing time, energy, and resources in our Stonewall Democrats Chapters. Find your local chapter and join today, and let’s all start the conversation about rebuilding a National Network to support Stonewall Chapters around the country.