Photo: Marco Gomes
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Matador Network.
It has barely been a month since the result of America’s 2016 election was decided, and Donald J. Trump was named our country’s next President-elect. Though the minds of some are not yet able to accept our nation’s decision and hold out hope that the electoral college will right the perceived wrong, the political machine has set in motion. A man who has repeatedly degraded disrespected and belittled many minority groups and women has won our country’s highest office.
Writers, reporters, and social media platforms are scrambling to compile and respond to the widespread frenzy that resulted once voting concluded last week. Tempers remain flared between opposing supporters. Activists continue to protest and picket, and a visible tension continues to build among our citizens. Blatant displays of heterosexual, cisgender, classist, white privilege are on the rise, creating a very unstable environment in many areas of the country. In many ways, it seems our nation is breaching a new social and cultural horizon.
Daily living in our country is changing. Living as a lesbian in Trump’s America has rapidly morphed into a guarded existence. In only a week, I have personally experienced outright discrimination in healthcare, along with verbal abuse and violent intimidation solely based on my sexual orientation.
Hatred in healthcare
Today I arrived at a previously scheduled check-up appointment at a local healthcare office in Cleveland, TN, where I live. Cleveland is a small town just north of Chattanooga, TN. I realize, above all, some people are simply rude, but today felt very different. I informed my physician’s assistant (whom I usually see when I visit) that I have been having a bit of anxiety, and I do not think my current medication is as effective as it has been in the past. Instead of working with me to rectify the issue, she blatantly ignored my concerns. Clicking through a preset checklist on her rolling laptop, she continued asking me unrelated questions until she reached the end of the list. She then informed me that we were through and prescribed me a refill for the same medication.
Meanwhile, in the lobby, my partner was attempting to join me. She waited in line as one man turned in some paperwork. The next man was looking for his wife. He was casually directed through the patient door to join her as she waited for treatment. My partner was next in line. Just as the man before her, she inquired about my whereabouts and asked to be directed to my room. She was denied entrance. The medical assistant delegated to intake and triage told my partner that the doctor did not like “that sort of thing,” and she would need to wait in the lobby.
On Monday I was meeting a man in the downtown area of Chattanooga in front of a local restaurant on Market St. to purchase a phone case for my daughter. The meeting went well, and the seller walked away. As I began to head back to my car, a young man approached me with a menacing look on his face. I asked if there was anything I could do for him, and he immediately proceeded to accost me. Shouting offensive language, he spontaneously ran through a gambit of insults. He called me a hippie dyke bitch and several other things that do not merit repeating.
Several of the young man’s friends then rounded the corner of the building and joined the verbal lashing. I feared the altercation would turn physical. They had me surrounded and cornered against a brick wall. Within a minute, 20-30 bystanders passed and did nothing more than stare, or worse, look away. Eventually, another group of young people took notice and intervened. As the angry group dispersed, they shouted, “It’s okay, Trump will take care of your ass!”
The moral question
Consider that the issue is no longer a concern for political or religious beliefs, but that the message being sent by those in power is one of racism and intolerance. When has it ever been okay for our leaders to display such disregard and disrespect for human life? We cannot allow our country to regress. We cannot allow this type of behavior to become acceptable and commonplace in our society. The negative repercussion of such social regression would be devastating.