The day after Donald Trump was elected, I visited the UW Seattle campus to hear some students respond to the election. Some shared personal experiences relating to race, religion, sexuality, and gender identity. Some offered words of encouragement.
One speaker told the audience to accept Trump. “I’m a trans man,” said the next speaker, “and I don’t have to accept shit.”
The crowd erupted in cheers.
Some Trump supporters believe this makes us hypocritical. Trump said he might not accept the results of the election, which upset some progressives. I am not one of them; I don’t particularly care how Trump feels about the election, or how he feels at all. But whether this is hypocrisy or not depends on each side’s definition of the word “accept.”
Trump said he wouldn’t accept the results as legitimate if he didn’t win. Everyone at the UW event got that Trump won the election. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been there. I do think it’s important to recognize how voter suppression helped Trump win the election, but sure, I’ll accept that he legitimately won.
However, I don’t have to accept him as a person.
Nobody has to be okay with the fact that our President-elect proudly boasts about sexually assaulting women. Nobody has to accept that he lies, contradicts himself and pretends he’s never said what he’s said.
As a lesbian, I certainly don’t accept that VP-to-be Mike Pence thinks I have a “pathological condition” and need therapy to “change my sexual behavior.” And I don’t trust anyone who does.
I think we all have a duty to not accept that Trump has a cozy relationship with white supremacy, or that he plans to create a registry of Muslims. If he tries to restrict free speech or ban an entire religion, we need to actively fight back.
This is our right as Americans. There’s nothing wrong with disliking the president. There’s nothing wrong with exercising our right to freedom of speech by protesting. And it’s crucial to stand up and avoid normalizing the misogyny and racism the Trump campaign has and continues to perpetuate, and resist any harmful policies he puts into place.
The word “democracy” means “rule by the people.” As said people, we need to stand up for what we believe is right, rather than unflinchingly accept whatever the authorities demand. Democracy is one of the great things about America — we must cling to it so nobody takes it away.