By Aaron Forbes
Special to the Pittsburgh Current
When Trump was elected to office, I remember lying on my bed face down. My head was empty. I was trying my best to ignore the excited sounds coming from my mother, my father, and even my little brother downstairs who were celebrating the election outcome. As a bisexual Trans man, I knew this would be disastrous, but I didn’t yet know just how disastrous it would actually be.
For most of the four years of Trump’s presidency, I lived in Greensburg, PA. It’s known for being right-leaning, to put it mildly. During my time at Pitt Greensburg, I worked at a t-shirt store dealing with the general public, and my exposure to an influx of pro-Trump individuals was a daily occurrence.
I point this out because I would get requests to design shirts for pro-Trump customers that would contain inappropriate and degrading photos of women who had spoken out against Trump, general hate speech, hate symbols, and phrases that would make even the requester so uncomfortable, I once had a man write down what he wanted on his shirt so as not to say it aloud near another customer in the store—whom it directly affected.
My best friend still works there as the store manager. Here’s a request she received a few weeks ago from a customer:
I graduated from college this past April. Thankfully I was offered a work-from-home position at a startup tech company based out of Manchester, NH in July, and it allowed my partner and I the ability to finally rent an apartment of our own.
My partner, like myself, is also a Trans man. I point this out because it affected our ability to find an apartment in Greensburg. We were worried for our safety while touring apartments—and I remember explicitly telling my partner on several occasions “Okay, now remember we’re just two friends looking to room together. We’re not together. We’re just friends.” I remember being afraid of how I presented myself, how I might be denied an apartment because of my sexuality or gender presentation, which had been stated on Trulia’s website that Greensburg did not, in fact, have any protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. One apartment viewing, in particular, scared us because the apartment owner had Trump stickers plastered across the back of his pickup truck. We did not make an offer on the apartment even though it was nearly perfect.
I cannot believe our government has failed this country at protecting its own citizens. Instead, this government has advocated for and practiced violence against, seemingly, every individual who does not fit one category: white, cis-gendered (Catholic) men. Did you know that this category of people makes up only 31% of America’s population?
Before Trump, I didn’t care about politics at all. I truly started to become outspoken following the mass school shootings and then entirely outraged following the murder of black, trans people, and other minority individuals. I have been a supporter of the BLM movement by attending protests, donating money to bail funds, purchasing from black-owned and minority-owned businesses, and being outspoken and active when it is my duty to step in.
Aaron is a technical writer and tech journalist situated in Homestead, PA. He is passionate about tech security and urges protesters to properly secure their data to protect themselves. You can find him on Twitter @cypherponk