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As I gear up for Donald Trump’s inauguration next week, I’m flashing back to the morning after Election Day. My rage, sadness, and apprehension blurred together into an emotional tidal wave.
I wanted to cry, but instead I reached for a tube of liquid eyeliner.
This was unusual for me. I came out as transgender at 14 and until very recently I’ve been terrified of not passing as male. I used to bind my chest so tightly it hurt my ribs. I wore layers of clothing to disguise my body shape and shoes with huge lifts hidden in them to make me look taller. I avoided makeup and ‘girly’ outfits even if I thought they looked nice. And I laughed when my straight cis friends made sexist or transphobic jokes.
I believed that being totally stealth and assimilating into masculinity would allow me to lead a normal and happy life. But all it did was force me to keep hiding. I was holding myself to a standard I didn’t actually believe in. Coloring within lines that don’t exist.
Makeup usually made me feel uncomfortable. But the morning after Donald Trump won the election, I stared at the black war paint around my eyes and I felt strong, defiant, and free.
Being stealth kept me safe. But now I want my queerness to be seen, or else discrimination will go unseen. I don’t care if my nonbinary identity isn’t “normal” enough for people to easily understand. “Normal” in our society is misogyny and queerphobia; the election just made that more apparent than ever.
This year, the Republican Party’s official platform took some of the most anti-LGBTQ positions in its history. The platform represents the agenda of the party that now controls the House, Senate, and the White House.
I can’t predict exactly what the Trump presidency has in store for me. But on the morning of his inauguration, I’ll be preparing for battle–and eyeliner is just the beginning.