Perhaps for white, cisgender, heterosexual males, the recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency means nothing to their well-being. But for most other groups — particularly undocumented people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and individuals at the intersection of these identities — a Trump presidency entails serious restriction of rights and even physical risk. Hate speech, particularly of a white supremacist variety, has already exploded all over the country as the president-elect validates long-present racist ideologies.
Women, queer and trans folks suddenly face the possibility that the Trump Administration will undo hundreds of years of progress. The promises Trump made throughout his campaign pose a threat to access to contraceptives, healthcare, Planned Parenthood and simple human rights. Now more than ever, it is essential that we remain vigilant, educated and aware of our own rights. Those with privileges must step up. As we approach this unprecedented political period, it is important to consider preparing for the coming years in order to protect our sexual health.
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act worked wonders for birth control. Provisions require insurance providers to cover contraception, making birth control much cheaper for those with insurance coverage.
On election night, Google trends revealed spikes in searches for “IUD” and “birth control” as folks with uteri began to experience panic regarding their reproductive health. The Trump administration has expressed a determination to limit Obamacare at the very least, as well as to cut funding for reproductive health in general. Birth control could quickly become much more expensive.
By redefining contraceptives and cutting funding to organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide birth control, Trump could limit both coverage and access.
Though the internet implies that people should rush to get a form of birth control that lasts longer — such as an IUD, which lasts five years — folks do not need to consider inauguration day as a deadline. Although Trump and Congress could easily make contraceptive access more difficult, this would still take time.
Those seeking birth control that will outlast a presidential term might consider the IUD, which comes in both hormonal and non-hormonal (copper) versions. The copper IUD lasts ten years and is a great option for trans folks, since hormonal birth control can interfere with those taking hormones to improve alignment with their gender identity.
But it is important to remember this recommendation means something different to people of color. Given America’s history of forced sterilization among communities of color and using Puerto Rican women as test subjects for birth control pills, it is understandable for marginalized groups to feel uncomfortable with those who demand that “everyone” run out and get an IUD.
America’s problematic history concerning the reproductive rights of low-income communities, people with disabilities and people of color means that not everyone will be receptive to this suggestion. Although Obamacare has improved access to birth control, many communities still struggle to obtain contraceptives.
Hump Day: An (ST)Investigation, the “common cold of STIs”Globally, one sexually transmitted infection rules them all in terms of prevalence: Human Papillomavirus or HPV. Lovingly nicknamed “the common Read…
Many same-gender couples fear that the right to marriage could be snatched away. Luckily, the Supreme Court has deemed marriage a “fundamental right,” meaning that current marriages are safe for the time being. Though Trump could not immediately eradicate marriage equality, he will have the power to choose a Supreme Court justice who could do just that.
In addition, the non-discrimination portion of the Affordable Care Act could be at risk for removal. This piece proved especially important for trans folks, who frequently encounter discrimination when attempting to access gender-affirming healthcare. Trump’s position on trans rights remains unclear, but it is likely that his administration will act on transphobic ideologies rampant throughout the party.
Perhaps even more frightening than Trump’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues is Vice President-elect Mike Pence, homophobe extraordinaire, who believes that queer folks should be treated with conversion therapy in order to “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Mental health professionals have publicly rejected the practice, claiming that conversion therapy has immense potential to do damage to an individual’s psychological well-being. It has even been outlawed in some states. Given these factors, it is unlikely that conversion therapy could ever gain credibility, but folks should remain vocal and active in opposition to conversion therapy and other such outdated, inhumane practices.
Trump’s vow to shut down Planned Parenthood echoes the calls of many conservatives determined to limit access to reproductive healthcare, but so far Planned Parenthood has remained steadfast in its determination to keep its doors open. Those able to can help Planned Parenthood remain an essential sexual health resource by donating money, speaking out against hate (either through social media, protests or activism) or volunteering.
Above all: remain vigilant. Remain active. Remain aware of privilege. Protect those especially vulnerable in a nation under the influence of Trump in the executive branch. And most importantly, if you are able: Vote in midterm elections. Democracy may feel like it has failed us now by putting so many lives in danger, but democracy also means we have the power to create change.