Kirsten Henderson, Photography Editor
With millions who gathered together the day after President Trump’s Inauguration Day, there has been a lot of debate on whether the Women’s March on Washington (and all around the world) had legitimacy with their intent for protest. Those opposing the marches said things like, “Women are already equal!” and “Why on earth would they march?” I cannot speak for everyone, but let me explain a few of the reasons why I attended the largest march in the United States’ history.
I marched for the girls of different ethnicities that I saw crying in the counseling center the week that Trump was elected. My suspicions for their tears were confirmed when I was told that many had been there for the same reason I was. Although my insecurities had more to do with my sexuality than Mexican background, many of us were there because we were female minorities who felt alone and estranged by half the nation.
I marched for Jacie who was nearly beaten to death in my hometown simply because she is transgender. She never received proper justice because the police refused to view it was a hate crime or even see her as a transgender female, and instead, they considered it a lesser offense of male-on-male violence. These events took place before Trump’s presidency, but now I fear even more for my fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender friends for what is in our future with the open encouragement of intolerance and the hate crimes at an all-time high.
I marched for those that I love who are HIV positive. Many of them found out they had the virus early because of state-funded clinics like Planned Parenthood. Vice President Pence has already proved that he can recklessly increase the spread of HIV in a population through defunding these places when he was mayor. Furthermore, if Trump cuts their funded lifeline of state-assisted medication, it could mean a death sentence to some of my dearest friends. They are terrified for their lives, and it breaks my heart to think of the potential threat and what they are going through. I marched because it should be a basic human right to merely have the ability to healthily live.
I marched for my sister who has seen the inside of an emergency room more times than I’ve seen her smile with her husband. Aside from the physical abuse, the mental abuse keeps her emotionally and financially dependent on him at times. Because I’m states away and can barely offer any help, it’s only become more difficult to look at her bloody, bruised, and crying face through a computer screen knowing that Trump has moved to cut funding of Violence Against Women programs when she needs it most.
I marched for Sherry, who went to a party with a guy she had liked and trusted before last that night when he forced himself on her despite her attempts to fight him off. She is yet another who never got justice for the crime against her, only this time it was because she, like many women, was too afraid at the time to say anything. Combine this pre-existing fear with our president’s personal “grab ‘em” policy, complete with pre-existing charges backing his words, and I worry that this encourages more sexual assault on women and may keep even more victims from speaking against their attacker.
Finally, I marched for when I was thirteen and a family member sexually assaulted me. Though I did speak up, I was silenced and told by a female family member that “these things happen to women.” I learned to be tight-lipped and accept things that I shouldn’t have, but I am speaking up again now. The fact is, yes, all of these things do happen to women, but this doesn’t mean that they should. Sweeping these issues under the rug only furthers the cycle. Women and other minorities are not equal as long as any of these things are still happening and we are just accepting them. There is even more on the line when an openly predatory misogynist is appointed president. We obviously have a long way to go for equality—perhaps even farther with the forces against us—but the Women’s March proved that there is power in unity to fight for what’s right. Silence is not the answer, and there are millions of us who refuse to be quiet and complaisant in the creation of our future.