why i march

Originally posted on Facebook.

I’ve seen plenty of back and forth over the last 24 hours about the rallies and marches that took place around the world yesterday. I feel privileged that I had the chance to take part in the rally here in Orlando, and I have a number of friends and loved ones who were part of other marches in different cities around the country. It gives me hope to see many of us come together in peace, love, and unity.

I’ve also seen the other side of this story. The side that throws “feminist” around as if it’s a dirty word. The side that feels yesterday was nothing more than a giant “temper tantrum” from those who did not get their way on November 8. Those that feel we (the protesters) should be thankful for how good we have it.

Let me make something very clear, in case it isn’t already: I consider myself a feminist. I didn’t for quite a long time, because for much of my life, things were very easy for me. I’ll own it: I was extremely privileged. And then, something happened: I had a mental health breakdown before college, and I had to become my own advocate for the treatment of major depression and anxiety after my suicide attempt.

Five years later, I was forced to become an advocate yet again, this time for my reproductive health after I was diagnosed with infertility at age 23 and no insurance provider would cover my medical expenses. To them, me being infertile was “elective” – as if I had chosen for my body to be broken. Soon after, my breast health took center stage, and I spent my time fighting for mammograms, despite having insurance coverage and physician approval.

All of these are lifelong medical conditions, meaning I still fight for my body on a daily basis. Recently, it took me a month to have my new depression medication approved by insurance. I have to wrangle with them every fall when I need new scans or testing, too, despite being under the care of one of the best breast cancer specialists in the state. It’s a never-ending battle.

And then came Kennedy. My sweet girl, born 5 weeks early, under some of the most difficult medical circumstances you could ever imagine. Not only did I find myself advocating for her medical rights (I still do), but I suddenly found myself having to stand for her human rights.

Have you ever been to breakfast with your child and had someone at the next table over stare at her the entire time? Give you dirty, disgusted looks? I have. Have you ever had someone comment negatively about how “ethnic” your child looks? Or her hair, specifically? I have. Have you ever been asked what your child is “mixed” with? Have you ever been asked if you are your child’s nanny? I have.

I am a feminist for myself, but also for her. I don’t protest because I “lost” on November 8. I protest because, as much as I have battled for myself and for my daughter, with that loss will come even greater struggle under an administration that has stated on multiple occasions it will enact policies that will harm 1) both of us, as women, and 2) my daughter, as a woman of color.

I protest not because I am ungrateful for how good I have it, but because I refuse to lose the progress we have made. I refuse to spend the next four years 1) moving backward, or 2) at a standstill.

I protest because the man we have put in power continuously makes statements and surrounds himself with individuals who do not respect me, my child, and numerous other minority or disenfranchised groups – whether it’s POC, the LGBTQ community, Muslim Americans, disabled, and many others.

I protest not to throw a temper tantrum, but to start a conversation – a dialogue about equality that has been absent in our society for far too long. If you’re privileged, it’s easy to dismiss this dialogue as unnecessary. I get it. When you’re sitting on that side of the fence, equality can sometimes sound like oppression. But I promise, it’s not. No one is trying to take anything from you. No one is trying to minimize your voice.

All we want is for our voices to carry the same weight and importance, not only in society but in our government. Because all of our rights are human rights.

I don’t know if there will ever be a day in my lifetime when I don’t have to worry about fighting for appropriate healthcare. I don’t know if I will ever be paid equally to my male counterparts. I don’t know if Kennedy will ever see a day when she isn’t judged by or questioned on how she looks or where she came from. But dammit, I’m proud to be a feminist fighting for the hope that these days WILL come – and I won’t stop until it happens or I’m buried six feet under.