Ashley has a wife, a child, and lives in Missouri. Being bisexual and trans is difficult in most places, but imagine if you lived in the depths of Trump country.
‘In Missouri, Republicans have become more emboldened about passing anti-transgender legislation,’ Ashley told Gay Star News. We are only using her first name to protect her identity.
She is referring to such measures as Senate Bill 98, or Missouri’s ‘bathroom bill’, which would require students at K-12 public schools to use bathrooms/locker rooms that correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.
‘Prior to the election I felt like our country was making progress on transgender issues and now we are majorly set back,’ Ashley explained.
‘In Missouri I face increased discrimination from people that tell me I lost and that I need to go away and stop being a freak. I’ve been told there’s a mandate against my kind.’
Since the inauguration in January, Ashley has felt more depressed and withdrawn, even questioning whether she should continue with her transition.
Studies show transgender individuals face higher rates of anxiety and depression, generally speaking, meaning the fear of the Trump administration only serves to make things worse.
‘It really struck a blow to me that this many Americans were willing to vote against my rights and existence,’ she said.
Ashley works as a pharmacist alongside conservatives who, as scientists, still don’t fully trust science.
‘Outside politics, just to have to debate the merits of things like the EPA with other science people that want it removed boggles my mind,’ she says, mentioning she actively tries to avoid conversations in the workplace.
Speaking more about her experience at work, Ashley notes ‘there is now blatant racism where it was subtle before’, and though her initial transition went smoothly at her workplace, ‘now it feels almost dangerous going into work.’
‘I know there’s people [at work] that actively stood against me and actively stood against my rights and it bothers me,’ she said.
Living with social anxiety which she treats with two different medications, Ashley is constantly worrying.
‘I avoid certain places and I stress about simple things like going to the grocery store,’ she said.
‘I notice more intense scrutiny of my life both as a transgender woman and in a same-sex marriage. I’ve been physically blocked and threatened about bathrooms. I’ve been called countless names. I generally just fear being openly harassed at this point when I’m in public.’
In terms of medical care, Ashley mentions how not many doctors in Missouri will treat transgender individuals, and how finding insurance which covers transitioning is also a big challenge. Additionally, finding a mental health professional who treats LGBTI people is also rare in the state.
Another struggle trans people living in Missouri face is how difficult it can be to get one’s gender marker updated on state issued identification.
For instance, the state requires either completed gender reassignment surgery, a form filled out by a licensed doctor, a court order, or for one to have already updated their gender on their passport or birth certificate in order to update their gender on their state ID.
Dating is another issue Ashley has faced as a trans woman in Missouri. Though married, she and her wife are in a polyamorous relationship. Ashley describes dating as trans in the state as ‘next to impossible,’ mentioning the countless bouts of harassment she’s endured from prospective romantic interests.
Though Missouri includes gender identity in their hate crime laws, that’s just about where protections for trans individuals in the state ends. While in the past, as Ashley mentioned, it seemed like progress was being made, it’s all gone downhill since the election.
Ashley added: ‘Being trans here is hard.’