I am taking a mental health day today, and am giving myself minimal exposure to the Internet. I’m avoiding reading my usual social media feeds, as well as most of my usual RSS feeds as well. I don’t have enough stock of Cope to be able to deal with people right now, nor can I really comfort myself with the usual pop culture or book things I like to read about.
What I have done, though, is glance at some of the LJs and Dreamwidth accounts from people in my extended circle–QUILTBAG folks as well as allies. This is the theme I’m seeing: we’re fucking terrified, and also trying to keep it together enough to have one another’s backs. Because moving forward, into the next four years, we’re going to have to have each other’s backs even more so than we have been up till now.
I know people all over the QUILTBAG spectrum, and I know multiple people as well who are raising non-binary-gendered children. One fellow author I know was despairing about how to explain the fallout of last night to her offspring, and how to give said offspring strength to be able to face school.
I know multiple people as well who are now also terrified about the imminent evaporation of their healthcare. Because now that we’re looking at a Republican President, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate, as we move into 2017, you better believe we’ll be looking at the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Because apparently if a Democratic President put it into play, tearing it down is more important than making sure Americans who need reliable healthcare actually get it.
If you happen to be against the ACA and think it should be repealed, do us both a favor and do not try to debate with me about it. Because until I actually hear the new administration coming up with something better, I will not believe that they have any fucks whatsoever to give about Americans getting reliable, affordable healthcare. Before the ACA showed up we did not have a system that gave us this. We still don’t, even with what small gains the ACA has given us–yes, I know, the ACA has its problems, but it at least has tried to get health insurance to Americans who haven’t had it before.
And you know what else I know? I know that there are way, way too many people who have had to turn to crowdfunding to try to raise money for their medical expenses. I see GoFundMes crop up all the damn time for people who are desperate to pay for surgeries, for dental care, for treatment after accidents, and more.
How is any system of healthcare that drives people to beg the Internet for money to cover their expenses at all fair? How is it just? How is it looking out for the well-being of our citizens?
And you know what else I know? I know that the American health care system is a root cause of why my parents died as young as they did. It’s not the only cause, but it sure is a big one. My mother died in 1985. She was 38 years old. Thirty-eight. And the cancer that struck her just about the time I was born beggared our family.
My father died in 2001. He was 57. Did he ever have health insurance? Fuck no. Hell, for a chunk of when I was growing up, after Dad got custody of me and my younger brother, he couldn’t afford to keep us. He struggled to hang onto jobs and stable places to live all throughout the rest of his life. Where in here would he have ever been able to afford to pay for proper medical care for himself, care which could have realized the damage he was doing to his heart and his lungs, and which might have helped him survive that heart attack?
And you know what else I know? I know that while I have been fortunate enough to have stable, lucrative employment for most of my adult life, that even the reasonably decent health insurance coverage I’ve had has lasted only as long as my jobs have done. One of the reasons I’ve clung to my current day job with every scrap of strength I have in me is because I know what’ll happen if I have to change positions. My insurance coverage will reset and there’s all sorts of risks that my now stupidly complex medical history will get “pre-existing condition” stamped all over it next time I have to change jobs.
And that’s even assuming I change jobs voluntarily. If I get laid off and have to go back to COBRA, it gets harder. How do I know this? I know this because of all the times I’ve had between tech jobs, when I’ve been on contractor positions, and you know what all those tech contracting firms DON’T do when they’re trying to get you that year-long gig at Microsoft or wherever? Give you health benefits. I know this because of everyone else I know in the tech industry, too, who’ve been in the exact same boat.
And you know what else I know? I know that even with a well-paying job and stable health coverage, Dara and I have still had to lay out multiple thousands of dollars per year for the last several years because medical shit just keeps fucking happening. I live in low-level dread that this superpower I have of generating precancerous tissue is going to wake up and bite me again as I get older. I’ve already lost one breast, my thyroid, my uterus, and my ovaries. I’m just waiting for something else to get something growing on it that’ll have to come out–and let me tell you, when I had to have an MRI of my head lately to try to figure out why the hell I have ongoing pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear, I was terrified they’d find a tumor.
Because guess where my mother’s cancer was. Right in her brain.
And you know what else I know? I know that with a new incoming administration who is on record as being hostile to queers, Dara and I are going to be braced going into 2017 just waiting for a repeal of marriage equality. At minimum, we’ll be expecting the return of DOMA or something like it. If that happens, even though we live in a liberal state, this will impact us. It will mean we have to pay taxes at the higher single-payer rate instead of the rate married couples get to use, even if I work for a company that is pro-domestic-partners.
More than that, though, we are terrified about the ramifications for fellow members of the QUILTBAG community all over the red states. There will be a resurgence of transphobic bathroom laws–hell, that shit’s even tried to get a foothold here, and that was even before last night’s election. There will be a resurgence of hate crimes against queers.
We are terrified about what this means for people of color. Every single POC I saw commentary from on Twitter last night was justifiably afraid. All throughout this shitstorm of a year, we’ve continued to see outbursts of hate against immigrants, particularly Muslim and Latinx ones.
Dara and I have already had multiple renewals of offers from Canadian friends to give us emergency crash space if we ever need it. We’re not exactly planning on bolting across the border tomorrow–for one thing, it’s not just a matter of “fuck it we’re noping off to Canada, chuck everything into the Raptor and go”. We’d need jobs. We’d need housing. We’d need to sell both our properties. And we’d need to find out whether my stupidly complicated medical history would be a problem. None of these things lend themselves well to immediate emigration.
But there are reasons Dara and I live as close to the border as we do. And every one of those reasons was in play last night–and will be in active play as we move into the next four years.
We are terrified. Don’t try to tell us everything will be okay and that we’ll be fine–because in our experience, living through the history of how treatment of QUILTBAG persons and POCs and people of minority religions has played out in this country, the likelihood is high that no, everything will not be okay.
All we can do now is try to weather the oncoming storm and hope we do not drown.
QUILTBAG folk, women, POCs, and anyone of minority religions who reads me: hugs. Let’s look out for one another. We are going to need one another more than ever. Vent to me here if you need to.
ETA: Dara’s reaction post is here.