These past two years under President Donald Trump have given me the opportunity to reflect on a lot of topics that have come up in the LGBTQ community and in our nation. Some of these are thorny issues still worth discussing; many should have been settled long ago. As I've watched and pondered, my outlook has changed significantly from what it was during my highly publicised and glamorised early Caitlyn days, when my life as an out trans woman was just beginning.
Since then, I have learned and continue to learn about the obstacles our community faces, the politics that surround us and the places my voice can help. I have reflected on what my unique position of privilege means and how I can best use it to make a positive difference.
Following Trump's election as president, I saw fertile ground for change within the Republican Party on LGBTQ issues. Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to claim to support this valuable, vulnerable community, and I was encouraged by the applause he received when he said at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 that he would stand up for the LGBTQ community. Poll after poll showed that Americans' views on LGBTQ issues were changing for the better - and that this groundswell extended even to the voter base of the Republican Party. I was optimistic that this was how I could leverage my privilege for change.
I believed I could work within the party and the Trump administration to shift the minds of those who most needed shifting. I made many trips to Washington to lobby and educate members of Congress, other Washington policymakers and powerful influencers. These meetings were generally positive and almost always led to encouraging conversations. Despite the criticism I received from segments of the LGBTQ community for engaging with this administration, I remained hopeful for positive change.
Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalised and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energise the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to "protect the country." This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me.