Why I Cried About Donald Trump, Even Though I’m Australian

I was in a fluorescent-lit library, studying with an old friend, laughing nervously at the possibility that Trump could soon become president. As the ABC was sending me more and more updates on the election results, I became more restless.  My friend and I sat opposite each other, masking our fear with silly smiles that believed the world couldn’t possibly be that silly. As more updates came, the smiling decreased. By the time Antony Green called it, I was alone with my laptop, my sweaty palms and my ABC updates.

The president is a symbol: A symbol of democracy, America and the free world’s aspirations. Donald Trump is now that symbol.

And I cried.

Angry tears that this racist, sexist, unqualified man had defeated an over-qualified, definitely not perfect, but definitely severely more experienced, woman.

Feeling sick that he was now the most powerful person in the world, and feeling stupid that I felt so oddly hurt by it. I don’t live in the States, I don’t have family or friends living there, and I wasn’t planning on travelling there anytime soon. (I’m just a poor uni student that spends all my money on smashed avo and quinoa smoothies.) His presidency probably won’t affect me personally at all. So why did I cry?

I guess there are a few things.

I identify as a queer woman, placing me in a certain category of people. This helps people, friends, family understand more about me, who I am and how they should address me. It is a label – it can be damaging, and it can be helpful. It also places me within a community of people which generates feelings of solidarity. This sometimes leads to more genuine empathy. This sometimes leads to more shared experience and shared pain.

I’m not saying the experiences of queer women are homogenous, nor all the political experiences of women embody solidarity and sisterhood. Women can be just as sexist, homophobic and racist as any other gender, and they can also be as susceptible to fear-mongering and rhetoric as anyone else. But the nature of empathy entails that I am going to feel more for people I can see myself in. Shared empathy comes hand-in-hand with identifying as a feminist and it is not something one can escape. It is life-long, it is a part of me, and it is painful.

I feel hurt for my gender who may now be “punished” for taking control over their bodies and pregnancies. Sadness for the girls who now have a president who has been charged with child abuse and sexual assault. Loss of hope for boys who have a ‘role-model’ president that makes harassing and assaulting women okay. More hurt for people of colour who may now feel unsafe and unwelcome in her own home. Fear for my gender, who have come so far towards achieving equality, for which countless women have dedicated their lives to, and which is now on the brink of reversing itself. Hurt for what this election represents.

The president is a symbol: A symbol of democracy, America and the free world’s aspirations. Donald Trump is now that symbol.

Even if Trump does not pull through on his election promises (we can only hope), and even if none of his policies are enforced, he still symbolises the retraction of rights, equality and dignity. And as an elected president, all of this symbolises the will of the people, legitimising everything he represents.

And to realise that, even though I notice sexism and homophobia in my life pretty much every day, I don’t have to fight in order to be who I am.

Even though it is 100 per cent valid for me to cry over these turn of events, this article isn’t about how hard this day has been for me.  It’s about what this day means for women and queerness, two things I identify strongly with.  And it is for people who don’t identify as either of those to have a chance at understanding why so many people around the world are crying right now.

Because Trump symbolises everything our identities have been trying to fight against for lifetimes.

So, I walked out of the dusty library, into the pouring rain of the oncoming summer. I called my friend and we cried out and yelled and legitimised each other’s distress.

And we will not stop crying out. The division that Trump symbolises and that Trump wants to perpetuate can paradoxically unite us all. This defeat for women and queerness is just another opportunity for us to prove how strong we are.

So, let’s go yell at some rain.