“Am I glad this election is over?” Emma Olson, a 27-year-old transgender woman from Minnesota, asks herself on a cold December night. “Hell yeah! Ugh, there was so much drama and arguing. I didn’t like it!”
It’s been a month-and-a-half since the election, and Emma is still reeling–but not in the way you may think. Why? Because she voted for Donald Trump, a fact she proudly boasted in a Reddit post days after the election.
“By no means do I think he is an ‘ideal’ candidate, and yeah, I disagree with some of the things he’s said and done in the past,” she tells Queerty. “But put that up against all the things that Clinton has done and it doesn’t even compare.”
We sat down with Emma to discuss exactly why she voted for Trump, what she thinks about his increasingly anti-LGBTQ cabinet picks, the impact she believes Trump could have on her as a trans woman and more…
First things first, what led you to vote for Trump?
Mostly it came down to a culmination of many months of research, comparing Clinton versus Trump. I want to stress the fact that being transgender did not play that large of a role in who I voted for. Sure, it played some part in it, but I didn’t feel right putting my support behind someone based on one small part of who I am. I instead chose to focus on the larger picture.
Personally, I just have a trust issue when it comes to believing Clinton will do the things she says she will do. She may today support the public’s support on a topic that most would agree on, but what about when she goes into private meetings with lobbyists and other powerful people in government? The next week she may completely flop on her support.
Couldn’t the same exact thing be argued about Trump? NBC counted a total of 141 stances he flip-flopped on over the course of his campaign. And he continues to do so even now. One day he is going to investigate Clinton, the next, he isn’t. One day, he is going to appoint judges that could “change things” when it comes to marriage equality, the next, it’s “irrelevant.”
I mean, politicians change their positions all the time, and that’s not to say it’s right, but I’m sure it’s a continuous learning process as things go on. So long as the end goal is met, with good intentions for the people, then I’d say it’s all well and done.
In your original Reddit post, you mentioned that you were initially a Bernie Sanders supporter, but then switched to Trump as the election went on. Was there a defining moment that made you switch?
It was just a “natural” shift, I guess. I guess if I could point to anything, it was learning how the DNC completely undermined Bernie Sanders’ campaign. After that, I could not out of good conscious support the DNC or any Democrat, including Bernie Sanders calling for people to rally behind Clinton.
I’ve read comments on our own site that say how “Anyone who is LGBTQ and voted for Trump is an idiot and should be ashamed.” How do you react to comments like this?
To put it simply, I don’t react. That statement carries no weight with it. Why am I an idiot and why should I be ashamed for voting for Trump? Give me some reasons why you think that. Back up your opinion.
OK, well, how about this: The vast majority of the people Trump has selected to be in his cabinet have a long and vocal history of being anti-LGBTQ, including VP-elect Mike Pence, Attorney General pick Jeff Sessions, HUD secretary pick Ben Carson, Department of Education pick Betsy DeVos, top White House advisor Steve Bannon, and Secret of State pick Rex Tillerson to name a few.
This is where I have the biggest problem with a Trump presidency. I do not agree with some of the things [his cabinet members] have said in regards to the LGBTQ community. Will the road ahead be an easy one for LGBTQ rights? No. Was it ever? No. How did we get to where we are now, in terms of progressing LGBTQ rights? People stood up for the community and pushed things forward. I think we all have a responsibility to keep that up, and not to rely on politicians to have our best interests at heart. If we rely on them, then I think we’ll find that they will make policy decisions based on their sole opinion. However, our government doesn’t reflect the ideals of one person, but instead it is supposed to represent the people. If the people have widespread support over an issue, then it’s our responsibility to move things forward. If we’ve done it before, then I believe we can do it again.
But what if we can’t? What if we lose the fight for equality because of the extreme cabinet he’s put in place?
I don’t anticipate LGBTQ issues will be something they will bring up on their own agenda, which is unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stop there. We can still organize, speak up on what we’d like to see change, and bring it to people’s attention. I don’t think we will ever “lose that fight,” because things are far from where they should be on LGBTQ issues, and as long as people get involved and fight for what they want to see changed, then the fight will always continue.
Do you fear what impact Trump and those surrounding him could have on you personally as a trans woman?
If the federal ban on discrimination is dropped or marriage equality is repealed, then I worry more about all the other LGBTQ people out there more than myself. So many transgender people have been murdered in the past few years, LGBTQ people have been turned away from businesses, some have lost their jobs coming out, and that all makes me so sad. I have to ask myself: How effective is a federal ban on discrimination? I mean, sure, in the courts and legal sense it carries some weight, but if people want to discriminate against you for being who you are, then they will, regardless of a federal protection.
Since the election, many people in the trans community have been scrambling to have their names and genders legally changed on their IDs, passports, and other legal paperwork. Many fear Republicans, under Trump’s leadership, will override the rule changes President Obama has put into place to help facilitate getting these documents changed.
Honestly, that doesn’t really mean that much to me right now. However, I don’t want to downplay its importance for other people. I’m sure some others out there have a hard time getting it changed, but there’s help being offered to get it done. I read recently that a lot of lawyers and organizations are offering pro-bono services for trans people to get there documents changed–before Trump gets in office. So, if you need help, maybe look into that?
But what if they don’t have the resources to do so? Or what if they simply aren’t ready to make that step in their transition?
If a person isn’t ready to make that step in their transition, then who am I to say what they should or shouldn’t expect in the future?
What has your experience been like post-election?
I’m irritated by the left’s attempt at stealing the election away from Trump and creating all these new issues/false narratives. It’s all just ridiculous. The majority of people don’t want this. I haven’t once been out in public, or saw and heard anyone protesting Trump, calling for a recount, or trying to convince people to hand the election back over to Hillary. It almost seems as a false reality that is only shown when I turn on the news. I find 99% of the people I talk to voted for Trump.
But if you say “99% of the people I talk to voted for Trump,” aren’t you living in a bubble, too?
I mean, everyone is living in a “bubble” in some way or another. Each person’s human experience helps create this bubble. It’s how we all live our lives; through opinions, beliefs, experiences etc. These bubbles sometimes increase in size, decrease in size, or they may pop and form a new bubble.
Also, the majority of people did vote for Clinton. She won the popular vote by over 2.5 million.
So yeah. Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote. Donald Trump, though, campaigned to win the Electoral College, because that is how election laws work in the U.S. Simply put, and without rambling away, he won the election by following the rules. If people still cannot accept this, then read up on how the Electoral College and popular vote works.
What would you like to say to the LGBTQ community who may not agree with who you voted for?
I guess I’d like to say please don’t create a divided community based only off the idea of who people chose to vote for. We all have so much more in common than our political beliefs, and we all share a common ground on [wanting to] see each other treated fairly and with respect.
But isn’t it hypocritical to tell people not to be divided while simultaneously advocating for a man who so blatantly divides people?
Trump may have caused some degree of controversy with the things he said, but the media and reporters took it to a whole other level. Every week the mainstream media used talking points from Trump, and tried so hard to pick out something they could turn into a controversy, then they ran with it as long as they could. Much of it was successful on their part. I mean look at where we are at now.
Donald Trump does not want to deport all Mexican, Hispanic, or any ethnicity just because they immigrated to the U.S. Donald Trump is not sexist. Does he maybe have an infidelity problem? Perhaps. I don’t know, but many politicians do as well. That’s not to excuse him of it, but let’s not all forget the controversy surrounding Bill Clinton during and after his presidency.
You know, a lot of our readers aren’t going to agree with a single word you’ve said.
I think we all need to take a deep breath and give Donald Trump a chance. He isn’t even president yet, and good things are beginning to take place. There is no point getting worked up over the past, focusing on what ifs, and wishing I did this and that. Don’t obsess over the political landscape of our nation, but do be aware of it. Get out and live your lives, surround yourself with people who love and care about you, and once you do that maybe you’ll see a rainbow over the horizon.