leslie-mcmurrayI did something this week I’ve done dozens of times before in my life: I voted. The process wasn’t dissimilar from the many other times I’ve cast a ballot. This time it was electronic instead of on paper, but it was pretty straightforward.

I participated in early voting this year. I like taking advantage of voting when it’s convenient. There was a line at the Carrollton Library on Keller Springs, but it moved quickly.

After selecting my choices for president and in the down-ballot races, I made sure that everything looked right and confirmed my choices. I walked out of the polling place, got into my car and burst into tears.

That’s never happened before.

Sure, I feel very strongly about participating in the Democratic process. Yes, I wonder whether one vote really matters sometimes, and while I’ve come to the conclusion that while one vote rarely if ever actually decides an election, every last vote matters.

But tears? Really? What was that about?

I’m not alone in this reaction, either. I was surprised to see so many women I’m friends with having the same reaction of post-vote waterworks.

For a lot of reasons, this election feels different. It’s like more is riding on it than ever before. And for me, there is!

I believe for the most part, people tend to vote their own self-interest. And as a transgender woman, I’ve begun to feel like a deer at a hunting lodge.

As we speak, the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, has filed a lawsuit that would permit doctors to use religious grounds to deny me healthcare. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan

Patrick is proposing a law to keep me from using the bathroom. And we have a nominee for president that would, if elected, nominate justices for the Supreme Court that would clear the way to try to legislate people like me out of existence.

This election could swing the U.S. Supreme Court in a way that could overturn Citizens United, protect Roe v. Wade and the Obergefell marriage equality decision, and quite possibly reverse the decision of federal Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas that declares war on transgender kids in school.

But if this election goes the other way, it could set LGBT rights back a generation — or more.

If North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory is defeated in his re-election bid, that could send a message all the way to Austin: “Discrimination is not good for business. Don’t do it Dan! Texas doesn’t need an HB2-style bathroom bill. You aren’t protecting women by jeopardizing the livelihood of their families.”

But on the flip side, a McCrory win could send Dan Patrick a very different — and very dangerous — message.

As I stood in front of the voting machine this week I pondered just voting a straight ticket. (Well, there isn’t anything “straight” about me, sooo … .) Instead I felt it ws important to me to positively and intentionally vote for the people who support and affirm me and that I believe will be best for America.

So I did.

It felt SO good.

I don’t want to live my life in fear. I want our nation’s children to worry about getting good grades, not whether they can hold their pee until they get home from school because the Texas lieten has a hard-on for Trans kids. I want to be able to see a doctor because they are skilled and on my insurance, not have to worry about their religious affiliation getting in the way of providing care. I want a woman’s healthcare needs to be decided by her and her doctor, not a bunch of white guys in blue suits with zero knowledge of a woman’s healthcare needs.

I want the world where my grandkids grow up to be a world free from hate and bigotry.

I didn’t see any perfect candidates on my ballot. I made the choices I did because I believe these people give us the best chance for now to give us the world I want to live in — one where love always wins, where fear is overcome with compassion.

It’s been hard watching the presidential debates and reading and hearing the vitriol. It’s taken a toll. But for me, that’s over. I’ve made my decision.

So as I drove home with tears streaming down my face. I tried to process why this was hitting me so damn hard. It’s because this time, it’s different.

We can’t afford to screw this one up.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.