Thursday, November 10, 2016

I'll be fine.

I'll be fine.
I’m a heterosexual cisgender male WASP with a decent job that provides health insurance. As an added bonus I’ve even got a life membership in the NRA and a pickup truck parked out front. I've been shooting guns and driving boats longer than I can remember and flying airplanes since I was fifteen. I'm perfectly capable of shooting, cleaning, and cooking game and it is rare that anything mechanical or electrical keeps me flummoxed for long. I enjoy my whisky neat and my beer dark.
But it’s not about me.
It’s about everyone who isn’t me.
My LGBTQ friends, families, and acquaintances. Young and old. Single, married, and committed. (There are even some of them who don’t agree with or desire same-sex marriage, just to mix things up a little more.) The ones who are securely hidden in the closet because their generation didn’t tolerate their sexual orientation. The ones who have recently come out, the ones who have always been out, and those who are still trying to figure it out. The ones with families now living under the ominous threat of their marriages being nullified. The younger ones now faced with a VP-elect who is an advocate of “conversion therapy.” (Note - For years I’ve asked every non-heterosexual person I've met if they could tell me when they “chose” to be gay, I have yet to find anyone who can give me an answer.) This group has more than ample reason to be fearful.
It’s about females who have found themselves marginalized in the past and the ones concerned about dealing with the possibility in the future. It's about those with gender ambiguity, and those who are transgendered. I won the lottery in this regard from a socially normative standpoint. I was born male and I’m quite comfortable being male. As I get older there are some annoying body hair issues I’d love to dispose of, but that’s a small price to pay for pretty much having the world designed around me. I really don’t have to worry about being groped, grabbed, or having someone force themselves on me, but others do, and that’s simply wrong. You can love women, appreciate the female form, and even participate in “locker room talk” without catcalls or whistling, much less advancing to the level of intimidation, physical assault, or rape. (Note - admission of any form of sexual assault is not "locker room talk.") No one should feel threatened in the security of their body, especially in the United States of America. Now we have a President-Elect who has openly boasted of getting away with sexual assault because he’s a celebrity. Casual sexual assault has been normalized, and women are fearful.
It’s about my friends of different complexions and ethnicities. I can walk down the street with a significant degree of anonymity, assuming I’m dressed in an unremarkable fashion and don’t do anything to draw attention to myself. No one is likely to confront me or, for the most part, question my right to be anywhere I choose to go. Again, assuming I’m not being deliberately provocative nor overtly trespassing. I take advantage of this quite often. As long as I present an air of authority and “belonging” I can go places others are turned away from, without ever being questioned. I don’t have to defend who I am or how I chose to worship. I’m of (mostly) European descent. Just an "average white guy” with ancestors primarily from the UK, sprinkled with a touch of German, Swedish, and Native American I’ve got brown hair, hazel eyes, and I’m pretty average height. More invisibility. The recent campaign has given a voice to the most extreme elements of society. The KKK marched openly in North Carolina the morning of November 9. People are already threatening others on public transit who “don’t belong” with weapons as well as words. Children in schoolyards are chanting about building walls. Those who don't look like me are fearful, and rightfully so.
It’s not about me, it’s about people having the option to make safe, appropriate, personal choices about reproductive issues. How in the world do you move past a VP-elect who thinks condoms are “too modern” and a President-elect who says there should be “punishment” for terminating a pregnancy? Someone in my extended family was faced with a horrific choice recently when it was determined a pregnancy wasn’t viable and the mother was at significant medical risk. Thankfully they were able to make the best decision for their situation and had access to safe and appropriate treatment. Overly-intrusive state laws still limited their options, so they were forced to abandon their support network for a short time, but everything worked out in the end. This isn’t a political issue, nor a religious issue, it’s a medical issue, and as such the decision should be between the parties involved and their health-care providers. The incoming administration has vowed to make extreme modifications in this regard. Many don't have the option to travel (if required) for treatment in these situations, and people are fearful.

It's about those who are developmentally different. Those with physical, mental, or behavioral impediments who have been mocked and ridiculed by the person who will soon hold the titles "Leader of the Free World" and "Most Powerful Man on Earth." A 19th Century Masonic publication bears this quote;
"He cannot act on their judgment, but must be governed by his own. As he has great responsibility, he has great power, and is bound by the strongest obligations to maintain that power and the dignity of his office." Until such time as we see evidence to suggest that the power and dignity of the Presidential Office will be maintained and that the President-elect is motivated to care for "the least of these" then those among us who care for the differently abled have every right to question and fear their potential treatment under the coming administration.

Thankfully I have health insurance (excellent health insurance, actually) that covers my wife’s pending kidney transplant. I’ll not bore you with the costs involved with this process, except to say that it is outrageous (tens of thousands of dollars just in testing and screening of potential donors) and we haven’t even gotten close to an operating room yet. In the long term dialysis is more expensive (and more taxing on the patient) so we’re hoping to avoid that. I can’t imagine how anyone with marginalized health due to chronic disease could manage the kinds of bills we see without solid insurance. When the top line is well over $15,000 and the bottom line is less than $500 if gives me pause and I give thanks for our good fortune. For many the choice is, simply, life and death. For us it's a slight inconvenience. We’re an inherently unhealthy nation for a variety of reasons, but no one should be punished for a congenital issue any more than they should suffer for the color of their skin. All my children are now adults. One has a solid entry-level position that provides good insurance benefits. Another is in graduate school, but who knows how long I’ll be able to keep them on my insurance if the ACA is ditched (we have no idea what the replacement might look like.) My third child has coverage under the ACA, so what happens there, is coverage just going to disappear? I’m not saying the ACA is ideal, but doing away with coverage for over ten million people is no better. I’ve got friends who went for years and years without coverage until the ACA because of cost. They're trying to figure out how they'll afford necessary medication without insurance coverage. I’ve got other friends who are paying through the nose for coverage because of the fractured implementation of the ACA and that’s not acceptable, either. Years and years of effort have been wasted whining about the ACA instead of trying to improve it. Now people are faced with having what little protection they have stripped away, and they are appropriately fearful.
Good solutions aren’t easy and easy solutions aren’t good. You can’t fix the problems with Washington overnight any more than you can clean out your car with a flamethrower. Well, you probably can, but the results in both situations are going to leave you with a gutted, smoking, worthless hulk.
So don’t confuse fear with whining. People are only reacting to what they’ve been told these many months, and they have every right to be fearful based on the evidence presented.

*Please accept my apologies for any errors with respect to pronouns or adjectives as used to reference the rainbow of people I discussed above, they are purely unintentional.