by Koa Beck, published on April 30, 2017 - 3:30 PM|
“I don’t think it’s a new movement, it’s just a coalescing,” says Viceland’s Gaycation cohost Ian Daniel of the post-President Trump resistance that has seized the nation across identities, geographies, and communities. From immigration bans to the overturning of President Obama’s directive allowing transgender children to use the school bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, Trump’s first 100 days in office have been a traumatic rollback of fundamental rights—but they’ve been met with powerful grassroots opposition at every turn.
The strength of these voices are the focus of “United We Stand,” a special Gaycation episode capturing the organization and activation that immediately followed Trump‘s Inauguration. Daniel and actress Ellen Page, both co-executive producers, best friends, and outspoken queer advocates, took their Emmy-nominated series to Washington D.C. and Indiana—capturing the initial backlash to the anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ administration as well as its immediate impact on the communities they’ve promised to antagonize.
“It seemed like all marginalized communities were at this one major event,” Daniel said of the emotionally charged inaugural weekend that he and Page watched transition into the record-breaking Women’s March. “People were really there to support one another, and listen to one another, and potentially be more inclusive. So, on that level, it felt like something new.”
And transitioning to a White House that lacks even an LGBTQ rights web page (along with civil rights, global warming regulations, and Spanish pages) is also new for our nation—or old, depending on how you look at it. After a certain amount of quantifiable progress for queer rights in America, “United We Stand” is both strikingly modern in underscoring what we have achieved and frighteningly archaic in articulating what we could lose—like more transgender youth. These children coming up in a Trump administration are currently the victims of a litany of transphobic bathroom bills, increased hate crimes, and a ballooning suicide rate (each instance of LGBTQ harassment or abuse increases the likelihood of self harm by 2.5 times).
“How trans kids have been targeted, or how this religious liberty executive order is looming,” says Page of the impending legislation, advocated for by Republicans, that is anticipated to dramatically scale back LGBTQ rights. “That is scary. It can be life or death for a lot of people.”
Dan, a 14-year-old transgender boy in Indiana, is one of these people. Behind a red truck in his driveway, he tells Daniel and Page that, after coming out, he lobbied to put together a presentation on transgender identity so as to better educate his peers. He was turned down by teachers, who worried for his safety.
“[I wanted to] help them understand what I’ll go through because if I’m going to high school and I get testosterone or something, they won’t know how that happened, because they’ll know me as a female,” Dan explains in “United We Stand.” He is anchored by his father Randy, who still struggles with his son’s gender pronouns, but clearly does not struggle with his unwavering parental support. “That ain't going to happen here,” Randy says of the transgender suicide rate among children Dan’s age.
In certain areas where LGBTQ youth have been explicitly attacked by this administration, it’s that same youth who are standing up to fight back. “When we meet with these young people in Indiana, you really feel like, is this a revolution?” Page says of Gaycation’s visit to the Indiana Youth Group, where one attendee shares that the political climate has inspired her to turn her career focus to constitutional law. “It’s these really radical, brave, authentic young people who are creating new words, and are saying ‘fuck you’ to the binary system.”
The Indiana Youth Group recently gained another member: Dan attended his first meeting at IYG this week, Page reports. She has kept in touch with him since filming. “That’s who I want to be when I grow up,” Page says of Dan’s “real quiet, intense bravery.”
That bravery is swelling on a national level—and, since inaugural weekend, continues to manifest in consistent protests, marches, and ACLU organization against Trump’s agenda. The outcry against travel bans and overwhelming international support for women’s rights—and women’s visibility—confirms that we are, in fact, the ones we have been waiting for.
United we stand, indeed.
“United We Stand” premieres on Sunday, April 30 at 10:00 p.m. on Viceland.