Caroline Kaufman, Class of 2017

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A letter to those who voted for Donald Trump, from a member of the LGBT community:

I am not going to yell at you. That will accomplish nothing. You already understand his policies, his ideas, his morals. I do not have to read them out to you hoping for an epiphany. You are not stupid, you are not blatantly unaware of who you cast your vote for, and I know that. So I am not going to try and argue with you–I promise. I would just like you to know that while you may have voted for economic policy, or international relations, or your hatred for another candidate, many of us did not have that luxury. For many of us, this election did not have to do with who was the better person.

I admit that I have been naive throughout this process. It was childlike for me to think that things were so set in stone. When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on June 21st, 2015, I thought that was the end of the conversation. I thought, this is a milestone. We have changed history. I will be able to get married and have a family, no matter what. I was too young to understand that the conversation had not ended. That the decision was 5-4. That someone could run on a platform that targeted my future–an issue that had already been settled almost a year and a half ago–and win. I woke up this morning unsure of my own future. And while I know that many Muslims, Hispanics, and plenty other groups woke up with that same, terrifying feeling, I cannot speak for them. I cannot talk to you on behalf of them. And I am not trying to. I am only telling you what the results of this election meant to me.

On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump will become the president of the United States of America. That day, I, a member of the LGBT community, will live in a country whose president’s platform includes appointing judges to overrule the legalization of same-sex marriage. I, a member of the LGBT community, will live in a country whose president’s platform includes forcing transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their assigned sex at birth. I, a member of the LGBT community, will live in a country whose president’s platform includes supporting legal discrimination against gay and transgender people under a so-called “First Amendment Defense Act”. And it doesn’t just stop with him. I will be living in a country whose vice president actually put this act into effect in Indiana. Not to mention the fact that he supports forced conversion therapy for LGBT youth, a practice that has already been outlawed in five states because it is considered so barbaric and cruel. These may just seem like facts to you, but this is my life–this is my future. This determines whether or not I get married or denied service at restaurants. And that is the harsh reality for thousands of people who watched this election unfold last night.

So, if you voted for Trump, I’d like to personally thank you. Thank you for being the reason I woke up terrified of the fact that the love of my life might be a girl. Thank you for being the reason I woke up ashamed of who I am. But this thank you is not just from me, but from all of my LGBT brothers and sisters. Thank you for being the reason transgender students, struggling enough with trying to figure out their own identities, will be bullied and ostracized in schools nationwide. Thank you for being the reason Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen forced into conversion therapy, decided to take her own life two years ago. And thank you for letting plenty of other LGBT youth suffer the same fate in the years to come.

I know that you may not have voted for Trump because of these policies. I know that you may not be a bad person. And I am trying my hardest to forgive you. I want so badly to forgive you, because I want this country to come together instead of being cut apart. But every time I hear that someone I know voted for Trump, it makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. It makes me feel like all we have celebrated for the past year and a half–and all I have done to accept myself, to come out, to be open about who I am–is crumbling away. And I am just too devastated to yell about it. So yes, I know you had your reasons, and I know I should forgive you, but I hope you can understand why I can’t right now. Why we can’t. We do not have room for empathy in our hearts–they are too full of fear to focus on anything else right now.

*Originally posted on Facebook