I Attended The Million Women March And It Triggered My Anxiety

I Attended The Million Women March And It Triggered My Anxiety

Only a few times in my life have I felt like I was about to faint from being in small spaces or been terrified by huge crowds of people--This time, I felt both.
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Only a few times in my life have I felt like I was about to faint from being in small spaces.

I was ripping insulation out from underneath a woman’s house after a flood in Louisiana with my AmeriCorps FEMA Corps team. Army crawling, chin-deep in sewage, breathing in scratchy pink particles, narrowly avoiding huge millipedes and using the wet, sinking mud beneath me to navigate.

Only a few times in my life have I been terrified by huge crowds of people.

Keene State College was almost nationally known for their Pumpkin Festivals, until 2014 when things got out of control. It was a quaint New England family event where Main Street shut down and rows of carved pumpkins lined the downtown, but that year was different.

There were thousands of people roaming the streets and the larger than usual police presence was apparent. Some groups ripped street signs out of the ground and formed small mobs chanting, “USA! USA!” collectively down the streets, but it was that night when letting loose truly turned into wreaking havoc.

I was in the apartment of my then boyfriend watching the lines of police surround the glowing flames that radiated from a car flipped upside down. From a few floors up, a block away and behind closed windows, we could hear bottles crashing and the undecipherable shouts from the rioters. Months after it happened I could still hear them when I slept at night, I could still see the Molotov cocktails being tossed into the night sky.

At the time, I was unsure why it had affected me so deeply, after all, I was near it, but never in the thick of it. Everyone else on campus seemed to get past it relatively quickly. It was still very much the subject of conversations with teachers and students alike, but I did not notice too many who were bothered by it the way I was. Then I was probably too caught up in my own thoughts to notice anyway.

I know now why it haunted me.

It stuck deeply in my subconscious because there was no great purpose to the destruction, it was rioting for rioting sake. It was mob mentality. It was large groups of primal young people seeing how far they could go. While there should be no appropriate time for riots to take place, often it seems that something happens politically or otherwise to cause the collective behavior.

This time, I felt both.

At the Million Women March, the million women, men and children were a pointillist painting masking the streets of D.C., not a speck of gray pavement to be seen. Touching me on all sides were strangers to me, except for my mother of course. The fear coursing through me was that at any moment the ripple effect could take over and things could cease to be peaceful.

When my mother and I were initially released from the packed subway onto L’Enfant Station we found more and more crowds forming, and once the mass we were in finally made it to the station exit, there was a stand-still. The crowds kept filing in and filing in, making the surroundings increasingly more compact. The station workers were deciding how to best let the masses get through out into the masses at street level.

“There’s no way out,” someone in the crowd yelled. At this point, I was already light headed from the compact subway ride and feeling the imaginary whoosh of the train making its stops pushing through me, even after we stepped onto the stationary platform. After I heard the man’s voice yell out perhaps the worst statement you could make to a large group of people basically underground, the fear set in. All those horror movies with absurd plots about what happens when technology fails and masses of people are left to their animal instincts, came to mind. My breathing became increasingly shallowed and my head, faint.

The thing that I believe kept me from passing out was a simple mantra: “don’t fall”. I knew that if I fell I could easily get trampled as people were shuffling through as quickly as they could.

I thought of the man who was accidentally stomped to death by the herds of shoppers rushing into Walmart on Black Friday in 2008, but little did I know: this crowd was different.

“Don’t fall, don’t fall,” I focused my thoughts.

Finally.

“Single file, one at a time,” a station worker shouted. He was letting us go through one by one, and at that moment I could feel the tension leave my body as people were moving and empty space around me appeared.

The relief was fleeting and would come in waves, but never truly left me. We found ourselves moving from one huddle of people to the next. I was a small dot in a sea of humanity, but outside it seemed less threatening. There was still the potential of something setting it off and creating a domino effect of disaster, but it seemed as though the crowds silently decided that it wouldn’t.

There were babies in carriages, people and families of all shapes and sizes. This had to be a peaceful movement and while it did cause anxiety in more than just myself, no fire was set and no hatred emerged.

There are few words to describe the unfamiliar feeling of at times paralyzing fear and ultimately real pride and hope I experienced January 22, 2017.


Check out my footage from the march:


Cover Image Credit: Hannah Sundell

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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10 Men That Will Change Your Mind About Hair Loss

It happens to the best of them, but these men look better with a bald head!

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Hair loss is such a common thing for men to face as they get older. As a society, I feel as though we typically frown upon it. This is probably the case due to the amount of hair transplants and hair products to stop hair loss and start hair growth. However, there are some men who can make the hair loss turn into a great thing because of how good they look bald. So, I have found the best looking bald men (in my opinion, of course!) and put them all into one list for your viewing pleasure!

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1. Will Smith

First of all, I am extremely bias because I believe that Will Smith is the best looking man on this planet (even my boyfriend knows this!). Second, Will Smith is not always bald, but when he is, he tops the list of all bald men. In his role of Deadshot in Suicide Squad, Will was rocking the bald cut and looked absolutely amazing while doing so. 10/10, would recommend.

Will Smith: Deadshothttps://batman-news.com/2016/12/13/deadshot-movie-...


2. Idris Elba

Once again, another man that is not usually bald but when he is, he sure does kill. Idris Elba is such a great looking man and has an even better sounding voice. What is better than a man with an accent that looks good bald?


Idris Elbaidris-elba-hairstyle


3. Dwayne Johnson

We all know that the Rock is a favorite among women. He is tall, handsome and has the big strong muscles. Not to mention he plays the sweet father role well and has a great sense of humor. But the most impressive part of him is that he can be bald and pull it off VERY well!

Dwayne Johnsonhttps://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/f...


4. Morris Chestnut

Such a beautiful man with an amazing smile. I am not sure how someone could not love the appearance of Morris Chestnut. Did I mention his smile?

Morris Chestnutmorris-chestnut


5. Shemar Moore

Another man with no hair that steals the show with a great smile is Shemar Moore. His bald head stands out in a great way and I think it would be impossible to have this type of list without Shemar on it.

Shemar Moorehttps://mymajicdc.com/3632803/see-the-photo-that-h...

6. Kobe Bryant

Not only is the MVP of basketball but he might be the MVM (most valued man) of the bald men out there! Once again, another beautiful smile. Not to mention, he's extremely talented.

Kobe Bryanthttps://www.kcra.com/article/nba-legend-kobe-bryan...


7. LL Cool J

A singer and an actor, representing the best of the bald men out there. Such a beautiful smile (are we seeing a trend here?) and an even better looking man. Could not leave LL Cool J off of this list either.

LL Cool Jhttp://comicbook.com/2014/10/29/ll-cool-j-says-hes...


8. Tyrese Gibson

Another man who can definitely give a positive view on being bald and losing your hair, Tyrese has been doing the look justice for a long time now.

Tyrese Gibsonhttps://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tyrese-gibs...


9. Vin Diesel

We all know him from the Fast and the Furious, but let's recognize that he is a great looking man, rocking the bald head look. We love the movies and we love him. Go you Vin Diesel, keep rocking out and winning over all of our hearts (and eyes!).

Vin Dieselhttps://pagesix.com/2017/12/29/vin-diesel-named-fo...


10. Common

What common lacks in hair on his head he gains in facial hair. I swear he has one of the best beards ever. Also, those freckles? Hello? So cute!

Commonhttps://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/common-becomes...


Hopefully, after seeing as these wonderful men absolutely slaying the bald look, you'll think twice about hair loss (whether you're a man or a woman!).

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