Trump’s COVID Failures Have Devastated Trans Immigrants Like Me

By Jessica Guaman

The author, Jessica Guaman, member of Make the Road Action.

The COVID-19 pandemic took the lives of six of my family members and nearly took my life too. The ineptitude of President Trump has brought inconsolable pain to my family, and the families of more than 220,000 who have died.

As an immigrant woman living in a densely-populated Queens neighborhood, I knew I was at a high risk of getting COVID-19. When my mother got sick, I was terrified. She was hospitalized for ten days and thankfully she is still alive. But, the same cannot be said for the rest of my family members. I lost one of my cousins after he was hospitalized for nearly a month. We also lost my stepmother’s loved ones — we lost her father, two brothers and three cousins to this virus. Eventually, I also started to have symptoms and contracted COVID-19. I ultimately recovered, but I still suffer from extreme fatigue and terrible back pain.

It wasn’t just my immigrant family, though. During the pandemic, I also saw the particular suffering of transgender women of color during the pandemic. We have long been among the most disadvantaged in this society — deprived of access to health care, good jobs, and safe and affordable housing. As I saw more and more of my trans siblings get sick and pass away from COVID-19 this spring, I saw the devastating way that these persistent inequalities and injustices play out during a pandemic.

The truth is that Trump has failed this country during the pandemic, and he failed transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer (TGNCIQ) people for his entire term in office.

Since taking office, Trump has removed all mention of our community from the White House website; appointed anti-TGNCIQ judges; revoked protections for transgender students in schools; reinstated a ban on qualified transgender people serving in the military; and more.

Instead of working to remove the barriers to opportunity and equity facing our community, the Trump administration has tried to raise them higher for the past three-and-a-half years.

I arrived in this country when I was 14 years old, to be able to seek a better life after I came out as a transgender woman. For years, I suffered discrimination and abuse because I was undocumented and a transgender woman. I was fired from my job when I began my transition and finding a job that would accept me was nearly impossible.

This administration has fought to allow employers to practice this type of discrimination against trans women. And the attacks go further. The Trump administration has also tried to define transgender people out of existence by changing the legal definition of gender based solely on a person’s genitalia at birth. Plus, this year — in the midst of a pandemic — the Trump administration finalized a rule that removed discriminatory health protections based on gender identity. Without these protections TGNCIQ people will be denied health care and health coverage.

Just recently, as the President himself continues to deny the seriousness of the pandemic that is devastating our communities, we saw Trump’s daughter Tiffany speak at a Trump Pride event and try to eliminate the T from the acronym LGBTQIA+ during her speech. I honestly wasn’t even surprised. This administration has lied over and over to us, and hosting a pride event will not eliminate or make us forget that since Trump took office he has tried to roll back protections and years of progress we have fought for.

Trump is trying to strip us of our rights and erase people like me, all while ignoring a deadly pandemic that has taken too many of our loved ones. But, I won’t let it happen. I am ready to vote in my first presidential election and I urge every eligible voter to do the same.

Let’s show up to the polls in honor of those we have lost to COVID-19 and to protect our TGNCIQ brothers and sisters. It’s time to get Trump out of office, because our lives depend on it.

Jessica Guaman is a member of Make the Road Action. On Twitter: @MaketheRoadAct

Building political power rooted in working class Latino communities. @MaketheRoadAct