In Trump we don’t trust: What it means to be trans in the era of DJT
What’s in a name? For some, it’s a matter of living authentically or living a lie. And with Inauguration Day looming, many in the transgender community are scrambling to get their legal documentation (name changes, driver’s licenses, passports, etc.) corrected before Trump takes office, including 24-year-old Cade Schmidt (pictured), a self-described “non-cis male” from Seattle.
“In my experience, belonging to a marginalized group [like the trans community] forces you into this unnatural state where you are always prepared for the absolute worst thing to happen,” he tells Queerty. “But you’re also keeping just enough hope alive within yourself to get out of bed each day and face an America where you might get harassed, assaulted, or even killed for who you are.”
We had a chance to chat with Schmidt about Trump, where he is at with his documentation, and what his concerns about the next four years…
QUEERTY: First things first, how do you identify?
SCHMIDT: I identify as a dude, through and through. I know “transguy” or “man” would be much more simple and satisfactory for other people, but for me, I see myself as no more or less than any other man–trans or cis. I guess you could call me a non-cis male. But more commonly, I identify as a Game of Thrones fan.
Where are you at with your documentation?
I am in the compiling stages. I have written my testimony to have my legal gender changed and have received affirmation from both my mental health physician and doctor. Now it’s a matter of compiling the paperwork, submitting it, and paying the fee. Changing my legal gender has always been on my to-do list, but, oddly enough, I had a feeling that I needed to get the paperwork done a few months before Election Day. I always knew I had to do it eventually, but for some reason I just had a hunch in September that I needed to get the ball rolling.
For those who don’t know, why has getting your documentation changed become such a big deal all of a sudden?
In 2010, the State Department made it simpler for trans* folks to change their genders on their passports. In 2014, Obama signed an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ people. Changes like this were made by the Obama Administration to make it a little easier for trans folks to have their authentic gender legally recognized. But not all of these protections are safe from the Trump Administration’s meddling. If Trump’s Administration moves to remove executive orders and other federal protections put in place by Obama, it allows the states to make their own decisions on LGBTQ protections.
So, as trans man, what does a Trump presidency mean to you?
I am preparing for the worst by speeding up my legal gender affirmation. I have no way of knowing how bad things could get for me and all LGBTQ Americans in the next few years, so I need to cross my T’s and dot my I’s before things might get bad. On the other hand, I am also preparing for the best. I want to get married some day, I want to buy a house, and be a father. I need my marriage certificate to have my authentic name and gender. I want to be listed as my child’s legal father and I want to have my house in my name. My life is moving forward in the next four years, regardless of Trump. I will not let ignorance and hate get in the way of my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Would you say the stakes of a Trump presidency are perhaps higher for the trans community versus others in the LGBTQ community?
I’m wary to say that things are more difficult for trans* folks, because that opens several cans of worms. That being said, I often have found it difficult to relate to my peers because of my identity. For example, after the election people had a hard time understanding why I was so depressed and why I just couldn’t “get over” the results. But when you have an identity that has become as politicized as trans* identity has over the past five years, the Trump Presidency is like throwing several wrenches into our progress.
How can folks within the LGBQ community support the trans community during this time?
Hang out with us. If you can, offer to buy the drinks because legal gender affirmation is expensive. Also, once you have educated yourself, do your best to help others around you educate and enlighten themselves about issues facing folks right now. When your gender-identity isn’t “traditional,” or lies outside gender-norms, it can be hard to blend in. Like when you go by a different name than what’s on your ID, or when you need to pee and use a bathroom other people don’t think you belong in, or when you are shopping in the women’s section of a store and everyone is staring at you because they think you should be shopping in the men’s. It is important to remember all of these are day-to-day experiences trans people have that cisgender people tend to take for granted.