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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fighting Back: Violence Against the Transgender Community

According to the Human Rights Campaign, “in 2016, advocates tracked at least 23 deaths of transgender people in the United States due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded. These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners and strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified. Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias.”

Sadly...Human Rights Campaign also stated that so far this year, 2017 has seen 25 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.

I think that it’s really important to mourn those who we have lost due to anti-transgender violence. The list of people that have been lost is also from the Human Rights Campaign website.

  • Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black transgender woman from Canton, Mississippi, was found shot to death the evening of January 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
  • Sean Hake, 23, a transgender man in Sharon, Pennsylvania, died after he was shot by police responding to a 911 call from his mother. A friend told WKBN that Sean "had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems."
  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A suspect, 25-year-old Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
  • JoJo Striker, 23, a transgender woman, was found killed in Toledo, Ohio, on February 8. Striker’s mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said her family loved her deeply.
  • Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, was fatally shot in Chicago on the morning of February 21. A transgender woman of color, she was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women that were killed in 2012.
  • Chyna Gibson, 31, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in New Orleans on February 25. Chyna was a much-loved performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death.
  • Ciara McElveen, 26, a transgender woman of color, was stabbed to death in New Orleans on February 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. As of February 28, 2017, HRC has tracked at least nine murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013.
  • Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot to death in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 19. One friend, Chesna Littleberry, told Mic that Holland was “like a younger sister” and had helped her learn to accept herself.
  • Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 22. Watson’s mother said her daughter was “the sunshine of our family,” a “caring, passionate” person who loved cooking and gardening.
  • Chay Reed, 28, a transgender woman of color, was shot and killed on April 21 in Miami. Reed’s longtime friend told Mic about their longtime friendship -- describing her as someone who was full of life and beloved by many.
  • Kenneth Bostick, 59, was found with severe injuries on a Manhattan sidewalk, he later died of his injuries. Few details about Bostick’s life have been reported, he is believed to have been homeless at the time he was attacked.*
  • Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color died on May 16, of injuries sustained during an attack on November 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police are treating the assault as a homicide. No arrests have been made at this point.
  • Kenne McFadden, 27, was found in the San Antonio River on April 9. Police believe she was pushed into the river, which runs through downtown San Antonio. A high-school friend of McFadden described her to local media as assertive, charismatic and lovable. No arrests have been made, but police said they have a person of interest in custody.  
  • Kendra Marie Adams, 28, was found in a building that was under construction and had burns on her body on June 13. Police have charged Michael Davis, 45, with Adams’ murder. Adams also went by Josie Berrios, the name used in initial media reports on her death.
  • Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17, was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia on June 25 during an altercation in an apartment parking lot. In an online obituary, friends remembered Barrin as a "social butterfly" and an "amazing girl" who "loved to make people laugh."
  • Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot multiple times in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early morning of July 2. Morgan was transferred to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Authorities have named Kenneth Allen Kelly Jr. as a person of interest in the case.  
  • TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the Georgia Voice, Dangerfield “was found with multiple gunshot wounds outside of her vehicle at the South Hampton Estates apartment complex."
  • Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot and killed in Waxahachie, Texas, on August 12. According to their Facebook profile, they identified as “femandrogyne” and a member of the bisexual community.
  • Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22 during an altercation with her neighbor. Relatives told Huffpost the neighbor was transphobic and that excessive force by police led to her death.
  • Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5. A friend wrote on Facebook “Kashmire loved hard and just wanted to be loved and accepted.”
  • Derricka Banner, 26, was found shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 12. Friends describe Banner as a "playful spirit" and "go-getter" who enjoyed life.
  • Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16. The GT Progressive Student Alliance, a progressive student advocacy group on campus, called Schultz an “incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights.”
  • Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September. Three people have been charged in her murder. Steinfeld’s family said Ally “sometimes” identified as female on social media.
  • Stephanie Montez, 47, was brutally murdered near Robstown, Texas. Montez’s longtime friend, Brittany Ramirez, described her as “one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet."
  • Candace Towns, 30, a transgender woman who was found shot to death in Georgia. Town's friend, Malaysa Monroe, remembers Towns’ generosity. “If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Monroe said.
The National Coalition on Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released their 2014 hate violence report. While overall violence against LGBT people went down by 32 percent, crimes against transgender people rose by 13 percent. The report also found an upsurge in homicides against LGBT individuals, finding that about 50 percent of victims were transgender women and 35 percent were gay and bisexual men.  The only problem with this report is it’s obviously only based on crimes that were actually reported. Crimes against transgender people could have risen more than 13%, but we will only know if people report crimes.
I hate to bring this up, but a lot of transgender deaths are unfortunately gruesome, which would entail gunshots, burning, strangulation, beating, etc. According to the TPOCC (Trans People of Color Coalition), “These totals represent only the known victims; there may very well be countless other victims of fatal anti-transgender violence whose deaths we will never know about because police, the press or family members have consistently misidentified them based on their assigned sex and name at birth.”
What Can We Do? (According to TPOCC)
  1. We can pass the Equality Act:
    1. The Equality Act would give transgender people recourse against discrimination that can lead them to experience homelessness or be refused services from shelters or healthcare providers, which can leave them vulnerable to fatal violence.
  2. We can support emergency housing initiatives:
    1. Federal agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice should enforce existing rules that prohibit discrimination against transgender people for all direct service providers, drop-in centers and shelters they fund. These rules must be paired with a broad training program on transgender cultural competency for direct service providers, drop-in centers and shelters.
  3. We can expand healthcare for Transgender people:
    1. States should prohibit transgender-related exclusions in insurance and Medicaid and ensure that public employees can receive transgender-inclusive healthcare.
  4. We can improve law enforcement training, response and hate crime reporting:
    1. Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies that govern interactions with transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, similar to the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department’s General Order on Handling Interactions with Transgender Individuals. Law enforcement agencies can also work with advocates through programs like the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service to institute trainings to ensure compliance.
  5. We can become allies to Transgender people:
    1. Advocates, organizations and individual members of the LGBT community can educate themselves about the violence and discrimination that transgender people face and commit to becoming better allies to transgender people in addressing these issues.



By:
Makayla Chacon
Pronouns: She/Her
Trans Program Intern

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What Does Masculinity Mean to Us?


As I have noticed myself starting to grow and mature as I get older, I’ve begun to bring more awareness to certain types of behaviors; specifically with the males I’m surrounded by. The more classes I take and the more people I talk to, I’ve started to see our definition of “normal” behavior for men is really not as normal as we like to think. I’m becoming more able to see how unnatural so many of these “rules” our society has set for manhood is. For example, it no longer makes sense to me that males must suppress so many of their feelings - with the exception of anger, lust or aggression. It doesn’t make sense that we’ve set so many restrictions for our boys and men. Soon after I started thinking about these concepts in more depth, I watched the documentary “The Mask You Live In.” The documentary is centered around how we socialize males in our society and how deeply it affects them, as well as everyone else. Because of this I decided to talk to my 13 year old brother, Spencer. I wanted to talk to him in order to get a perspective from a middle school boy who’s still trying to figure out what being a man means to him.
Let me just start out by saying that this interview went nothing like I was expecting. The answers my little brother gave me blew me away! I started out by asking him simple questions. For example, “What would you do if one of your guy friends came to school with his nails painted?” Without skipping a beat, the answer that exploded out of his mouth was, “I’d ask him if he has another bottle for me to paint my nails too!” Spencer continued to laugh while he explained, “The other day I wore a freakin fanny pack to school, I’m in no position to judge!” We talked about his ability to discuss his feelings with his friends. He told me that there’s no way he can keep certain things inside, and his friends understand that. Then, I asked if him and his friends ever talk about menstruation, he replied, “Of course, it’s a human thing, my girl friends tell me about it all the time.” All of his responses caught me off guard because I truthfully didn’t believe a 13 year old boy would have such an open-mind and be so welcoming towards seemingly feminine/less masculine behaviors.

Ever since Spencer was little, him and I have always been very close and we’ve been able to talk about many kinds of topics. Especially helping him navigate certain situations, I can see my influence in him. The conversation opened my eyes to see how one step to fixing hypermasculinity can be solved just through talking and teaching boys it is ok to be confident and also respect women as well as themselves.
By: Eliza Kern

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Inclusive Language

How Do We Include Inclusive Language in Our Own Language?

Language has been and continues to be a powerful tool for human connection, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Language can be used for good, or for evil. In this generation, words definitely matter; it matters what you say and how you say it. Language can either make people feel included, or excluded. We all want to make people feel include though right? In order to do so, we need to start with the core of making people feel included - which is changing our language. Seems challenging, right? Trust me, I know how you feel. Changing your language that you’ve written or spoken your entire life, might be hard, you just have to be willing to put in the work. In order to make people feel included, we use what is called, inclusive language. Inclusive language is language that avoids the use of certain expressions or words that might be considered to exclude particular groups of people, esp gender-specific words, such as “man”, “mankind”, and masculine pronouns, the use of which might be considered to exclude women. Increasing the inclusiveness of our language is not only to become more welcoming, but to learn how to strive “to understand the ways that language often unconsciously makes assumptions about people and unintentionally reinforces dominant norms around gender, sexual orientation, race, class, ability/disability, age, and other identities and experiences”. (Unitarian Universalist Association)

I found a few things to consider in terms of checking the assumptions we make that language can often carry from the Unitarian Universalist Association:

  1. Recognize diverse family formation:
    1. For example, some families are headed by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, two moms, two dads, and more: consider “parent or caregiver” instead of “mom and dad,” get creative with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, etc.
  2. Use language that reflects what people call themselves:
    1. For example, taking the time to find out what labels or words a person or group uses for their identities and experiences rather than making assumptions, and always respecting the language a person uses to self-identify.
  3. Use “person-centered” language as a general rule:
    1. For example, when talking about groups you aren’t a member of, not using an identity as a stand-in for a person or a group: “people with disabilities” instead of “the disabled”; “transgender people” instead of “transgenders” or “the transgendered”; etc., remembering that any aspect of a person is just that: an aspect of a person.
  4. Understand and respect the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity:
    1. For example, not saying “LGBT” if you are only talking about sexual orientation; not using “straight” as the opposite of “LGBT” (transgender people can be any sexual orientation, including straight); etc.
  5. Be intentional about representing diversity in stories and curricula:
    1. For example, representing a variety of family structures, races/ethnicities, gender identities and expressions, and sexual orientations in stories shared during services and in religious education for all ages.
  6. Consider non-gendered words for the divine:
  7. Use words that encompass all genders rather than only two:
    1. For example, “people of all genders” instead of “women and men”; “children” instead of “boys and girls”; “siblings” or “kindred” instead of “brothers and sisters.”
  8. Use language that does not assume a certain level of education:
    1. For example, not assuming that all people have graduated from high school and/or gone to college (or will go to college after high school); being mindful of the reading level of language used in services; etc.
  9. Use language that does not assume a certain level of financial means or certain sort of vocation:
    1. For example, not assuming that everyone present is employed, has a stable living situation, can afford to meet their basic needs, works a first shift job, etc.
  10. Use language that does not assume all people are heterosexual:
  11. Avoid negative or demeaning language for people with disabilities:
    1. For example, “people living with HIV/AIDS” rather than “AIDS victims”; “people who use wheelchairs” rather than “wheelchair-bound” or “someone confined to a wheelchair.”
  12. Be thoughtful about the imagery you use:
    1. For example, words like “black,” “dark,” and “blind” are often used symbolically to express negative concepts. There are many alternatives and ways to diversify our use of certain symbolism.

By: 
Makayla Chacon

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Menstruation Frustration


Since coming to college, I realized how lucky I was to not have to buy my own menstrual products growing up. My mom would always pick some up for me when she bought some of her own. So this year when I got my period I went to the store to quickly grab some tampons, pads and a small bottle of Advil (the necessities). When I went to check out, my total was $20.40, I was shocked because never had this cost came out of my own personal bank account. I was not prepared to drop $20 right then, but I looked down trying to decide if there was anything in the three products I had that wasn’t necessary. But the thing was, menstrual products really wasn’t something I wanted to skimp on. 
That got me thinking, my period is something that happens regardless if I want it to or not, yet I have no choice but to spend money on it every month. Because I’m so used to casually buying these products, I’ve never taken the time to add up what exactly it is I’m needing. First, you need hygiene products such as pads, tampons or maybe both. Then there’s the cost of Advil or Midol, anything for the cramps or headaches. There’s the cost of underwear you need to buy because you got your nice ones all bloody. There’s acne medication, chocolate maybe, or birth control. Regardless of how many items on that list you choose to utilize, most mensturaters will find themselves needing at least some. It adds up being a person with a period and for some reason that’s never been a big topic of conversation, especially with women already being on the wrong side of the wage gap already. 
The majority of states in the U.S. tax feminine hygiene products, people are being taxed for something they have no control over. In America, items deemed “necessities” aren’t taxed, it varies from state to state but this list mostly consists of groceries, medical prescriptions, agriculture supplies, sometimes clothing etc. Yet something a huge percentage of our population needs, isn’t a necessity in the eyes of our government. This is just another sign something big needs to change, and the way we perceive menstruation needs to shift as well. But I have hope, a large part of solving this problem is bringing it to more mensturators attention, which is what I wanted this post to do.
Lastly, here are some cost effective tips to help during that time of the month!

  • Instead of buying expensive heating pads, wet a hand towel then put it in a plastic bag. Next, stick it in the microwave for a little bit and you’re done. Make sure to re-wet every time you put back in the microwave to reheat. 
  • To help with migraines, use some peppermint essential oil and rub some on the temples, or over the whole forehead. A diffuser or even peppermint gum should help as well!
    By: Eliza Kern

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

An Exercise in Health Thought

Ok, most of us at some point have probably talked about how we “need” to go to the gym, often disparaging our bodies in the process. There’s this cultural notion around exercise, around eating, around anything to do with our bodies that tells us that we need this, need that, and often with a tone that implies that we won’t enjoy it (and let’s be real, often times we won’t). We’re told doing these things is what it means to be healthy from the very start with grueling PE classes where teachers critique our movement based on times and fitness exam standards. We center movement around two main ideas;

One, that it has to meet a number, whether that’s a goal weight, a mile time, ect.
Two, that it’s about the result, not the process, and certainly not how it feels for us.

For some people, goal setting like that totally works, and that’s great for them. For a lot of us that’s just not the reality. When we make movement into something we only do to lose weight we take away so much from the experience of it- including the fact that your movement and your health- its for you. As a culture we’re particularly bad about this for women. Health is a broad concept and can vary widely from person to person- you can be healthy regardless of what your body type is. When we cheapen movement to something we only use to lose weight, we’re often focusing on its ability to shape our bodies to appeal to others. Honestly though, is that really what we want to make our discussions of personal health and wellness center on? What it does for someone else, for the gaze of other people on our bodies?

Here’s an alternate view- Maybe it’s about the process instead. Finding movement that feels good for us. We have a cultural sense that what’s honorable or valued is what we struggle with and push ourselves for, and that somehow what feels good is not worth as much. Not only is that a draining way of looking at things, but it means that for a lot of us, we’re less likely to keep coming back to the behavior of exercising. When I was younger, I hated PE- and by extension, I used to think I just plain didn’t like exercise. It was a setting where I only ever felt like I was failing. The thing is, if you’re doing the activity, you’re already winning- you don’t fail at running a mile just because you didn’t do it fast enough. The exercise you got doing half of a mile doesn’t disappear if you don’t make it to the end. Judging it that way is absurd. In the end, the movement that is successful in terms of health is not the one that burns the most extreme amount of calories, it’s the one that the person continues to do. And we tend to do what’s pleasurable.

One more important note on this topic- When people talk about this topic of health, it’s often to tell others what to do with their bodies on the basis of how they perceive the other person's health. Firstly, not really any of that first person’s business, right? Additionally, not only can you not tell a person’s health status based only on their body type, but if you’re truly concerned about health, then let’s talk about mental and emotional health. Health of the body doesn’t exist in some bubble outside of the cultural contexts that affect the health of our minds. What does it do to the mental and emotional health of our young women to have this emphasis placed on losing weight? Even just in terms of thinking about exercise, it makes their efforts and their bodies essentially about someone else, an all too common trend that crops up in many social issues.


All in all, our thoughts on health and exercise are often strikingly unhealthy, and  I would deeply encourage others, especially in my field of health, to re-think the way we frame exercise. 

Written by Dana Lund, Trans Program Intern

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Glory to Gloria

Never being an activist before, or at least thinking in terms of being an activist, I was not very knowledgeable of what has been done before me in the field. I never thought in the certain ways that I do now and never imagined the amount of hatred and inequality that exists everywhere. On top that, as embarrassing as it is now, I never really heard of, or knew much about Gloria Steinem and what she has done.

Attending the Q&A session she held Wednesday, March 2, at Chico State was a blessing and really molded the way I think of certain issues. Just being in the same room as her and seeing my peers filled with so much nervous excitement when she came in made me realize the impact she has had on lives. Then she spoke and her words really had an impact on me personally.

The biggest takeaway I took from her hour long Q&A was the way she explained how to cope with anger. She described anger as a good thing, and it is something we all must have and use to our advantage. We have a right to be angry, it usually means something is wrong and unfair in our lives or others. To use anger and turn it into a positive, we must imagine it as a little cell inside of us. We tap into this cell and use it as positive energy to make a difference. We need to find others who are like minded and make these connections and express the way we feel and why we feel that way. I have never particularly thought anger was a good thing or could be a good thing, but she turned the thought of it, to a positive mentality that brings people closer together.

Another lesson I took from her was her ability to take a step back, and look at the bigger picture of situations and being able to make connections when things do happen. Her example was the Zimmerman case with Trayvon Martin, she connected this issue all the way back to the prior domestic violence charges against Zimmerman. If feminism was taken seriously and he was previously charged with what he has done, Trayvon Martin would still be walking today. On top that, Zimmerman was again charged for domestic violence after the Trayvon issue. When we step back and make connections with bigger issues, it all comes down to properly assessing the situations where there is inequality. Doing so would prevent so many of the problems we face and save lives all around the world. Her way to turn almost every situation or issue and connect the problem back to issues women face was surprisingly mind blowing and honestly true.

A third takeaway from the discussion with Gloria Steinem was too not be fed up or angry with the current state of women’s right’s. She had the whole room imagine back to when women couldn’t even have the ability to cast a vote. This time era is not too far in the past and we have made great progress with where we are today. Don’t get me wrong there is still a ways to go, but we should not be angry, and Gloria again told us to channel this anger into a positive, that we use to connect with others with similar interests to help take the correct steps forward, progressing one step at a time.

From not hearing of Gloria Steinem, to hearing her words echo in my head daily, this question and answer session was a blessing. Thank you, Gloria


To those reading - thank you for the opportunity to share.  

Submitted by Robby Duron

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Representation, Please. Please


Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.

-- Sappho (Translated by Paul Roche)

I’ve always considered it a great shame that I did not know until after I started college who Sappho was. In case by chance you are in the same boat I was in, Sappho of Lesbos was an incredibly famous poet who wrote of her attraction both to men, and, more famously, women. In fact, she is the reason we use the term Lesbian, derived from the Island she called home. Where, I wondered at first, was Sappho when in high school we looked through a barrage of poets? Where are any of the many famous LGBTQ+ creatives, historical figures, and so forth in our classrooms? As a youngster with a passion for writing, I would’ve loved to see myself in this poet! Not to mention that seeing historical figures with diverse experiences of gender and sexuality gives context to the modern LGBTQ+ experience. That is to say, when one knows our history we suddenly stop seeming as though we sprung out of nowhere, an invention of modern times.

Although there are a plethora of important issues going on in relation to our schools in this day and age, I’ve always felt that the battle to have at least some LGBTQ+ history recognized is an important one. Especially since LGBTQ+ youth are often estranged from older community members on the basis of fears that they will make inappropriate mentors, these youths are starved for representation. Just seeing themselves in the people they study in history or english could be uplifting for kids who are often struggling with acceptance, both among others and within themselves. Our censorship of LGBTQ+ history creates the illusion that the identities kids experience are somehow not safe for the classroom and sexualizes young LGBTQ+ people by implying that their identities, even outside of any explicitly sexual context, are inappropriate.


With the start of this current school year (2016-2017), California is set to become the first state to include guidelines for LGBT representation courtesy of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. However, in our current political climate other states may be left lagging behind. Especially in light of HR 899, a Bill that had been introduced to the House of Representatives that would work to abolish the Department of Education by the end of December of 2018. While our country is far from having unified educational standards in regards to these topics to begin with, the potential abolishment of any larger oversight could make it even more difficult for standards like those in the FAIR act to take off for additional lack of unity among school systems. Overall, we face uncertain times for progress in LGBTQ+ education, but it’s a battle worth fighting. 

Submitted by Dana Lund