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An open letter to my boyfriend's Trump-supporting parents

Apr. 4, 2017
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Dear Mr. & Mrs. (redacted),

I have been running through conversation topics for our upcoming introduction for some time now. As any significant other should be, I'm nervous to meet my partner’s family. I want to make a good impression naturally but at the same time I have some things that I feel it would be irresponsible and dishonest to keep to myself. I wrote this letter in an effort to organize my thoughts and with the intention of being upfront with you. 

Your son and I have discussed at length the political agenda with which you have chosen to align yourself. The current administration is a major source of anxiety for me and I hope to be able to communicate effectively with you why I feel unwelcome in your home. 

The election of Donald Trump was deeply unsettling for myself and for the people closest to me. I actively campaigned against him even prior to the primary elections because I believed him to be unqualified, offensive and potentially dangerous. At the time, I was working for ACLU and Planned Parenthood. A major source of my frustration stemmed from my inability to appropriately communicate with people the threat posed by a Trump administration. During the time I spent working for those non-profit organizations, I was verbally abused every single day and regularly subjected to physical assault by people who oppose the work that these organizations do. As a Planned Parenthood representative, my intentions were to ensure that Planned Parenthood would continue to provide services like birth control, contraceptives and representative sex education in the classroom to eliminate the necessity of abortion services. Yes, Planned Parenthood provides abortions--but please consider that, when a woman (or young girl) seeks those services, it is a last resort and should therefore be a medical decision between the patient and her doctor.  What I am asserting here is that if we had more people willing to stand up for the organization and aid their efforts to provide educational resources and preventative measures to avoid unwanted pregnancy, abortion services wouldn't be as necessary as they are. If you don't like abortion, you don't have to have one, but the 15 year old rape victim deserves another option instead of being forced to carry her attacker’s child to term. The administration you voted for would deprive her of that opportunity. 

I grew up without a father, and I can personally attest to the financial and emotional burden my mother--an elementary school teacher in a lower-income school district--had to bear in order to give me everything she could. Not only did government-funded lunch ensure that I myself did not go hungry, but my mother often used her own hard-earned money to provide food for the children who came to her classroom with empty stomachs. Public broadcasting of educational programs often picked up the slack when working parents were unable to reinforce education at home. Often, parents of school children are unable to speak enough English to help with homework, which causes second-language-learner students to fall behind in school--thus creating a cycle of educational failure and poverty. As the Trump administration cuts these programs, it hurts me to know that the upcoming generation will be starved (literally) of the opportunity for upward mobility. 

I am 2nd-generation American. My grandparents on both sides immigrated to this country in the hopes of providing future generations of their family with access to education and a higher standard of living. My grandparents opened their own business and employed American workers, providing jobs for people who wouldn't have them otherwise. Both my grandfathers served in active duty and were decorated veterans of the US Military. I am Mexican, Portuguese and Brazilian, and I am absolutely horrified by the racist vernacular that Donald Trump has employed when referring to my people--when referring to me. I am a proud woman of color, and I resent the fact that because of this I have been lumped into this category of drug dealers and rapists that the American people must now build a wall to keep out. 

When I moved out on my own, I was fortunate enough to find adequate living arrangements with my current roommates. They are a loving couple who have enjoyed a healthy, happy 6-year relationship. They have no children, but we have two cats, and our home is clean and sunny with lots of love and light. It is a much healthier living situation than many I have experienced in my lifetime. I feel it is not necessarily important to mention that they are a same-sex couple, but for the sake of the argument I am presenting I will disclose this to you. They are not mentally ill, they are not confused, and I will put my own life on the line if that means protecting them against an administration that has advocated for conversion therapy. Regardless of whether you believe that homosexuality is sinful or wrong, you can’t deny people their right to exist comfortably within a family setting without the threat of persecution, ostracization, or physical violence. My sympathies extend further to the transgender community, whose members will always be allowed to use any bathroom they desire in my home. To wake up every morning in the wrong body is a traumatic enough experience without the added horror of being questioned, physically assaulted and even murdered at alarming rates. The most vulnerable members of our society need services, counseling and acceptance--which is the opposite of the position taken by the administration you support. I find the anti-LGBTQIA+ mentality within your political stance absolutely unforgivable, if not borderline criminal. 

I am a survivor of sexual assault. Through no fault of my own, someone saw fit to force themselves upon me and I was unable to defend myself. I was shutshamed mercilessly to the point where I considered taking my own life. When I eventually told my mother, she begged me not to tell my stepfather because she feared the shock would kill him. He still doesn't know, and that was almost 10 years ago. When Donald Trump openly attests to sexually assaulting multiple women (and when people excuse that behavior as locker room talk), it makes me wonder how my attacker spoke of me behind closed doors--and if he received accolades from his peers for what he did to me. Unfortunately, mine isn’t the only experience of its kind, and it’s my understanding that you also have a daughter. Statistics show that one in three women are victimized by sexual assault within their lifetime; I pray that your daughter is one of the fortunate 66%. 

I figured that there was no way a truly civil introductory conversation with my partner’s parents would omit discussion of  my political views, my educational background and my life experiences, so I feel it is best to be transparent by disclosing to you how personally affected I am by your decision to vote Republican in this last election. Sure, your tap water is drinkable; your children are safe; your lifestyle is not being called into question. But other people are not similarly unaffected. Your son has tried to defend your stance to me by insinuating that you’re approaching the issue from an economical standpoint, but even he can’t support that claim because you elected a president of a country, NOT a president of a bank. People are worth more than dollars and cents, human life is not the equivalent of bank balances, and by voting for a businessman you have indicated that the suffering and inequality around you is a low priority for you. I find that unforgivable--and, yes, I hold you personally accountable for every petty, disrespectful and downright humiliating thing the president does, since you saw fit to elect him. You willingly ignored his misogynistic, racist and childish vernacular. You elevated him to a position of authority. In casting a vote that indicated your willingness to disrespect everyone besides those in your immediate circle, you have also lost my respect. I feel unwanted in your presence, I feel personally disrespected, and for that I cannot find it within myself to forgive you. I understand if you no longer want to meet me, but I cannot find it within the realm of my compassion to be silent about my disagreements with your political stance. I love your son very much, but you know as well as I do that he is compassionate and intelligent enough to disagree with you. I pray your family does not fall victim to the various misfortunes your vote inflicted upon millions of others. 

Sincerely,

Aria