On Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, millions of women around the world marched to let him know that they will not support him, his administration, or his party's anti-woman agenda. Those women's marches proved that women are a political force to be reckoned with, and these women leaders of the Trump resistance affirm that power.
In November 2016, of course, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nearly won the presidency, and with her loss to Trump came a shocking blow to feminism. Rather than grin and bare it, however, these women chose to fight against the rising tide of regressive politics and discriminatory rhetoric and legislation. Whether they're fighting with their legal platforms, their organizing abilities, or by sharing their own experiences, these women serve as examples of how powerful women are as a political bloc. Just as importantly though, they show how the resistance to Trump must be led by those who may lose their rights and their safety to the new administration.
The women listed below come from amazingly diverse backgrounds, professions, and experiences, but they share one thing in common — the notion that women are not only people, but that we are leaders as well.
The Diverse Cast Behind The Women's March On Washington
Let’s give credit where credit is due: Women’s March organizers Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour pic.twitter.com/Z2hqlNY512— Bleep The Police (@BleepThePolice) January 25, 2017
When the Women's March on Washington was first announced in the aftermath of Trump's shocking win, worries about a lack of racial and ethnic diversity overflowed from feminists of color. In response, founding organizer Bob Bland invited seasoned activists Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez to co-organize the march. Activists in other cities took an interest, and by Jan. 21, there were hundreds of sister marches that saw millions of women protesting Trump's inauguration. Their history-making message was as loose as it was powerful: the women of America and the world are watching. With Sarsour, Mallory, and Perez leading, the march showcased the amazing and beautiful diversity of American women.
Janet Mock & Laverne Cox As Trans Leaders In #TrumpsAmerica
Despite the overall success of the worldwide women's marches in attracting attention to the political power of women, one of its most glaring issues was the exclusion of trans women from its sisterhood narrative. That very division was addressed by celebrated trans rights activist Janet Mock during her speech at the Women's March on Washington:
Mock's call for sisterhood isn't just symbolic: one of the first publicized acts of post-election transmisogny (misogyny directed specifically at trans women) happened on Nov. 29, when trolls celebrated the suicide of Lizzy Waite after she posted her goodbye letter on Facebook.
Following news of Waite's defaced suicide note, activist Danielle Muscato's tweets directed at Trump himself went viral. The tweets addressed both the perilous state of trans women in America and the then-President-elect's own foolishness.
With all the ills facing trans women under Trump's presidency, Orange is the New Black star and trans activist Laverne Cox said the response to the women's marches inspired her to keep fighting:
Mirriam Seddiq & The Female-Led Movement Against Trump's Travel Ban
Mirriam Seddiq's career organizing against Trump began when the then-candidate launched his audacious attacks against the family of slain Gold Star veteran Humayan Khan after they spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Seddiq was offended by his assertion that Ghazala Khan was not "allowed" to speak — a viewpoint many perceived as Islamophobic. The Muslim-American lawyer founded the American Muslim Women Political Action Committee in response to Trump's ever-increasing Islamophobic rhetoric. And when his controversial executive order barring refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries came down, Seddiq rushed to Dulles airport to help her fellow lawyers defend her fellow Muslims from mistreatment and potential deportation.
The Female Federal Judges Who Issued The Stay On Trump's Immigration Ban
Just a day after Trump issued his travel ban order, Federal Judge Ann Donnelly of New issued a temporary stay on deportations after reviewing a request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Other judges began following suit. Virginia Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a similar stay almost simultaneously with Donnelly, and in Boston, Judges Allison Burroughs and Judith Dein issued a ruling stating that the executive order was likely unconstitutional. The swift and courageous rulings by these four female judges show that women don't just advocate for change, but can and will legally enforce these changes during the Trump administration.
BLM Co-Founders On Intersectional & Black Women-Focused Organizing
Black Lives Matter was famously founded by queer Black women, and two of the movement's co-founders have found prominent positions in the Trump resistance. BLM's statement following Trump's election was a much-needed call to action, and provided activists with the important reminder that Black lives were at risk before the election, and would continue to be so after.
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors spoke of the urgent need for organized action during a tech conference shortly after the election:
Alicia Garza, one of the other BLM co-founders, spoke at the Women's March on Washington, and called not only for organizing across racial and ideological lines, but for deliberate and sustained resistance following the turnout for the inauguration weekend.
Sally Yates, The First Woman To Hear "You're Fired!" From President Trump
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates stood up to President Trump's immigration ban ... so he fired her. pic.twitter.com/GZyLdQZx8Y— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 31, 2017
Trump's immigration ban drew ire from around the country, but the highest-profile fallout from it was Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates' refusal to enforce the ban — a refusal that got her fired by the president for her "betrayal". Yates, who was the acting AG until Trump deposed her, told her subordinates not to enforce the ban because she was not persuaded that it was legal. In response, the White House fired Yates.
Yates' bravery in defying Trump earned her major accolades, and in the days following her firing, she has been nominated for the JFK Profile in Courage award for standing up to the country's biggest and arguably meanest boss.
The Female Republicans Voting Against Betsy DeVos' Confirmation
Betsy DeVos, Trump's nominee for education secretary who's never worked in education, is quite incredibly disliked outside of Washington and Wall Street. But the latest challenges to her confirmation come from a surprising place — from within the GOP itself. Notably, Republican Senators Susan Collins and Linda Murkowski vowed to vote against DeVos' confirmation, and their break with the party line substantially threatens the billionaire's majority confirmation vote in the Senate. Their defection could signal another predictable shift within the Republican party against Trump, and their leadership as women in a party not known for being particularly friendly to women is noteworthy.
The Congresswomen Leading The Resistance From Within The Government
It is clear that the resistance to Trump’s radical agenda will be led by courageous women fighting for our future. https://t.co/7kAoHblbAi— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 31, 2017
Dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party has reached an all-time high since the election, but Democratic congresswomen are leading the anti-Trump movement from within the capitol building. Most visible among them is Sen. Kamala Harris, a new California senator who has already begun making a name for herself by attending protests and using social media to announce her refusal to capitulate to Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. Harris is joined by New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, the only senator who has voted against (almost) all of Trump's appointees. These courageous female senators are far from alone: their ranks include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as well as Californian Rep. Barbara Lee and New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez in the House of Representatives.
Winnie Wong, A Former Bernie Sanders Organizer
Winnie Wong, one of the co-founders of the popular "People for Bernie" group is no stranger to grassroots organizing — her group's page garnered over a million likes, and was considered part of the grassroots movement that catapulted Sanders closer to the Democratic nomination for president. After Sanders lost the primaries, Wong and her fellow Sanders organizers shifted their focus to continue engaging the first-time campaigners in politics. And after the election, Wong helped organize the Women's March and co-authored the march's manifesto. In a CNN Money article about women of color and the women's marches, Wong spoke to the unique difficulties faced by working women of color:
In a political atmosphere dominated by those in and vying for the highest offices in the land, work like Wong's, which focuses on the power of the everyday working class, will make all the difference in 2018 and 2020.
Desiree Kane, The Native American Activist Who Documented The #NoDAPL Movement
During her seven months at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Standing Rock, ND, activist and photographer Desiree Kane showed the world and her fellow activists the truth, beauty, and brutality that the water protectors faced. Her beautiful photographs and role as a Native American photojournalist during an administration that's openly hostile to journalists and the movement she documented is as brave as it is necessary.
Paulina Helm-Hernandez, A Queer Liberator Fighting For Immigrant Rights
Tell Your Mayor to Defy Trump, Expand Sanctuary in YOUR city + town! https://t.co/3pBFCdPUtk— Paulina H Hernandez (@chicanafemme) January 25, 2017
As co-director of the queer liberation group Southerners on New Ground, Paulina Helm-Hernandez is used to fighting for the rights of her people. Helm-Hernandez, SONG, and other pro-immigrant groups are at the forefront of the campaign to ensure sanctuary cities remain safe for all. The Atlanta-based organizer is a strong advocate for sanctuary cities despite them being targeted by Trump in an executive order:
Female Protesters Around The Country
The Women’s March showed the start of “a future that is really going women’s way” https://t.co/WyDsJyANao— Salon (@Salon) January 25, 2017
Within Trump's first two weeks in office, women gathered first by the millions to protest his inauguration in general, and then organized by the tens of thousands (and with little notice) when he issued his immigration ban order. The immediate and incredibly visible protests against Trump not only angered our new president, but also sent a powerful message about what he can expect when he tries to trample on the rights of Americans. Despite not being woman-centric, the protests against Trump's immigration ban attracted a majority-female group of lawyers, proving that without women, the resistance against our new fearless leader couldn't exist. Women aren't just the real MVPs of the movement to resist Trump and his agenda — they are the heart of it.