Trump got elected and Mary, a local trans woman, bought a gun
“I’m starting to fear for my life,” Mary said in an interview with GayRVA. She’s asked for anonymity because of that fear. At 52, the Richmond local, like many transgender people, is unsure what the future holds for them with Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the most powerful seats in the nation.
The wave of anti-immigrant and LGBTQ violence that struck the nation after Trump’s win has only added to the sense of defeat many minority communities feel. After eight years under the watchful eye of the progressive Barack Obama, many are worried Trump’s campaign rhetoric has unleashed a terrifying new form of hatred.
“We put all of that into a box and it was locked,” said Tracy, another local trans woman who asked to remain anonymous. “People still had these feelings, but to express them was looked down upon. And what he has done is open that box and let it out. He talked his talk, he said all these racist, hateful things, and no-one said anything about it – so it’s okay.”
I’m sitting in Tracy and her wife Nancy’s car in the parking lot at Colonial Shooting Academy on Broad Street. We’d just spent the last hour shooting a myriad of different firearms the couple owns and maintains. They’re outfitted with mods like silencers and grips and laser sites – all tools they painstakingly followed the letter of the law to acquire.
Tracy, a military veteran, bought her first gun in the 80s. She had been a victim of sexual assault growing up as well as during her time in the service. Her first gun was purchased as a form of self defense, but before long it became a passion and hobby, though she promised herself she’d never be a victim again.
Nancy got into weaponry a bit later, in the early 00s, but has embraced the practice even more so, earning the title of assault rifle armorer. Now she modifies and repairs her weapons as well as shoots.
“It’s enjoyable,” Nancy said, remembering her first real gun purchase, a .22 rifle used for target practice. “You go out to a range, for someone new, it’s excitement. But if you’re a sportsperson, it’s relaxation.”
Tracy shares the belief in shooting as a relaxing hobby, but since Wednesday, Nov. 9th, she said it’s as much about self defense.
“There were days where I would go places and not bring my gun with me,” she said. “Today, I take it with me everyday. I feel less secure now than I had before he was elected.”
She spoke about things like the Detroit-area middle school where students chanted “build the wall” while teasing Latino students and the Muslim woman who had her headscarf ripped off by a man in a “Make America Great Again” hat at University of Louisiana, Lafayette.
Then there’s the transgender Tennessee woman who said her car was spray painted with “TRUMP” and then set on fire.
“After he got elected, the gates were just thrown wide open,” Tracy said. She’s already altered one of her favorite annual routines – wearing a shirt on Veteran’s day that says “I’m a transgender veteran, I fought for your right to hate me.”
“I didn’t wear it cause I didn’t want to be a target,” she said. “I am afraid of being targeted.”
Truth be told, this story was inspired by a CNN story back in Nov. 2008. My best friend’s brother, Kyle Lewandowski, was interviewed by the national news outlet under the lede “Obama won and Kyle bought a gun.”
“Every election year, you have to worry about your rights being eroded a little bit at a time,” Lewandowski, a white, straight male resident of Northern Virginia, said shortly after election day. Gun owners were worried Obama would not only make it harder to buy guns, but they would also take them away from normal citizens despite the President’s reassurance otherwise.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot of Colonial Shooting Academy, with several thousand dollars with of guns in the trunk of her car, Tracy is less concerned about her rights – which could also be taken away – and more worried about her life.
“When [Lewandowski] bought a gun when Obama was elected, it was on conspiracy and feelings,” Tracy said considering the gun-enthusiasts concerns vs. hers. “Today, [LGBTQ] people are buying guns because of reality. You didn’t see when Obama was elected, riots in the streets. You are seeing actions happen now…”
And while Trump might instill new fears, Nancy said the reality for trans people is violence was always a reality.
Noonie Norwood, a 30-year-old Black trans woman, was found dead on a Southside Richmond street the weekend before Trump’s big win. Nancy said she didn’t personally know Norwood, but she had friends in her circle who did.
“These things are close to home,” she said. “[And] that’s there beforehand… 2-3 days after we’re seeing this escalation, where is it going to go from there? The fear is there.”
For Mary, she’s relying on her new gun and her rifle training in Boy Scouts many years ago if something happens.
“I wish there wasn’t a need for [guns],” she said. “You have to look deeper. Man evolved from a single celled life form billions of years ago. In nature, beings no matter how small, kill to survive.”
All three of the women mentioned in this story are members of Richmond’s local chapter of LGBTQ gun enthusiasts, Pink Pistols RVA. The group meets semi-regularly at Fallout in Shockoe Bottom – ask to join their facebook group for more info.
Trump Administration has ‘Corrected’ 2020 Census form by removing proposed inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity
“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix”March 31, 2017
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