When the clock struck 12 am on January 1, 2017, the majority of the country breathed an enormous sigh of relief. 2016 was a bad year — a year full of shocking news, a nation slowly dividing, and a regression of societal equality. While we were all not-so-patiently waiting for the ball to drop on Saturday, Federal Judge Reed O'Connor was up to something else.

On the very last day of 2016, Judge O'Connor ruled that doctors across the country now have the option to refuse to care for transgender patients as well as female patients who have previously had an abortion. His decision was based on a doctor's right to exercise religious freedom. 

Within this past year, I've become truly disheartened at the fact that our country is not as accepting and forward-thinking as I had once believed that it was. We have just began a new year, and I already feel like we've taken a 50-year step backwards. And this is only the start.

The Decision

Judge O'Connor feels that the option to refuse these patients under law takes a weight off of a doctor's shoulders. Before this rule, doctors had to argue cases of refusal for each patient that they did not want to treat. According to Judge O'Connor, that didn't allow doctors to exercise their right of religious freedom to the fullest. 

In its most basic form, this means that if a doctor doesn't agree with abortion or transitions due to their religion, they now have the right to refuse to care for transgender patients and female patients who have had an abortion. 

It seems to me that Judge O'Connor's main concern is spreading his fear and hatred for people who think and act differently than he does. His main concern should be the health and wellness of the citizens of the country he serves, but instead, we take yet another giant leap backwards as a society.

The Discrimination

You may be thinking, 'well, isn't that discrimination?' The answer is yes, it absolutely is. Under President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is illegal for doctors to discriminate against patients due to "sex, gender, or previous termination of pregnancy."

The ACA remains part of law until Trump is inaugurated and (inevitably) decides to repeal the act, but Judge O'Connor just couldn't wait that long. Carpe diem, apparently.

According to Judge O'Connor, gender discrimination is simply "hostility against a man or woman for being a man or a woman." This is the definition of gender discrimination that his rule is based on.

It's absolutely amazing to me that Judge O'Connor's rule is built from hatred, vague and shady definitions, and the disregard for a very important act signed into law by the President, yet it too was signed into law. Amazing.

Judge O'Connor's rule not only goes against the ACA, which is still part of law, but it also goes against the oath to do no harm that all doctors are required to take before beginning their practice. 

The Distress

Refusing to treat people in need sounds an awful lot like doing harm to me. But what do I know? I'm a pro-choice, transgender-supporting woman, so that basically means that I know nothing, right?

The real kicker for me is that there is such an overwhelming stigma that surrounds young moms and young pregnant women. If you have a baby before you graduate college, you suddenly become this sad, defeated person in society's eyes.

Society pushes the idea that once you have a baby, your life is over. Your goals are no longer obtainable, you can no longer finish your schooling, and good mother f*cking luck finding a job that pays more than $13/hour.

It's ridiculous to me that 1. I am terrified of getting pregnant before I graduate because of these stereotypes, and 2. these stereotypes are even pushed in the first place. You do not have to be a certain age, reach a certain pay grade, or finish a certain level of education to be a good mom!

The prevalence of this mindset throughout society makes women believe that they truly do have to surrender everything that they dreamed of because of a baby. Yet, as soon as a woman chooses herself over her embryo that hasn't even developed into a fetus yet, she becomes a selfish, baby-murdering monster.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that women should or shouldn't have abortions. I believe that it is the choice of the pregnant woman, no matter the situation.

If a 20-year-old college student becomes pregnant but wants an abortion because she wants to reach her full potential and then bring kids into that awesome life she built, then I respect her decision because it has nothing to do with me. It is her life, and hers only.

If a 24-year-old woman is raped on her way home from having a few drinks with her coworkers, becomes pregnant, and wants an abortion, then I respect her decision because it has nothing to do with me. It is her life, and hers only. 

If an 18-year-old woman living in poverty becomes pregnant and doesn't want to bring a child into that life, then I respect her decision because it has nothing to do with me. It is her life, and hers only.

The comical thing is that if this fictional 18-year-old woman decides to keep her baby and she needs government assistance to do so, anti-abortion people will shame her up and down for wasting their tax money and "misusing" it, even though there are strict guidelines and regulations for those programs.

The same thing goes for transgender people. If someone is happier being a man than a woman, or vice versa, then I want them to embrace that and live the happiest life they can. At the end of the day, I respect his/her decision because it has nothing to do with me. It is his/her life, and his/hers only.

I'm extremely disappointed that our country has leaders like Federal Judge Reed O'Connor and President-Elect Trump. Since the debut of Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again," I've only seen a rapid decline of "greatness."

To all trans people who bravely face the world and all women who bravely face abortion, I stand with you.