(Mirror) I feel like I’m living in a perpetual state of anxiety. I fear everything. I fear my wedding will be invalidated. I fear some of my loved ones will be deported.
I fear for my wife, who is a trans woman of color, going anywhere alone because she could be harassed, assaulted, or murdered. I fear that my nieces and nephew will one day realize what I am and will no longer want me or my wife in their lives because we’re transgender.
I know I’m not alone in my fears and anxieties. It’s an incredibly difficult time to be a sexual and gender minority in America. The current President has either rolled back or attempted to roll back many of the protections we gained under President Obama. It seems like every other week Trump is denying visas to unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats and U.N. officials or taking away protections for transgender students.
So what can we do to take care of ourselves during this tumultuous time? Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a therapist; I’m just a trans guy who has had a lot of therapy.
Be aware of what’s going on and then put your phone down. It’s important that as a community we know what our federal and local government are doing in regards to our rights. But it can be overwhelming. I don’t even entirely understand how the government works.
It’s a huge bureaucratic system with a lot of moving parts, so it’s OK if you don’t know everything about politics, but a general understanding of the issues that are important to you is good to know so that you know how to vote in the coming elections.
Now, once you’ve read about the terrible things our government is doing today and you’re thoroughly depressed, put down the phone, close your computer, and turn off the TV. I follow what’s going on but not too closely because it’s a drain on my mental health. So shut it off and be present. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is something you can do anytime, anywhere, completely free of charge. Mindfulness is about practicing awareness in the present amount. It’s about focusing on yourself and your environment. You can mindfully eat - what does my food really taste like as I slowly chew and then swallow. Eat without a phone in front of you. Then mindfully shower. And while you’re at it, try mindfully driving. Just google “Mindfulness Exercises.”
If you’re into meditation, or even not into it, check out the Headspace app. It’s free and I like to use it before I go to bed on the nights when my brain won’t shut off. It’s this guy with a really soothing voice who teaches you the basics of meditation by starting with just 5 minutes. It’s non-judgmental and he encourages us to be kind to ourselves while meditating. And no, this is not a paid ad by Headspace. Although maybe I should look into that.
Finally, know that actions like Trump’s, while deplorable, will lead to change. They always do. It doesn’t seem like it, but by rallying together as a community because we don’t like how the government is treating us is planting the seeds for change.
The MirrorMag: The publication date of this issue of the Mirror is November 24, 2018.