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Monday, November 21, 2011

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

By Carina Gutierrez

Earlier this month, Mississippi took a vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment. This amendment sought to define the word “person” as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof.” This would equate abortion with murder without making exceptions for rape, incest or even when a woman’s life is in danger.

Although it did not pass, let’s take a moment to consider how our lives as women would have been affected by a positive vote: had this passed in Mississippi, it is likely that the rest of our country would have followed suit and possibly led to the US Supreme Court revisiting its Roe v. Wade decision. It would cut off our access to birth control, such as the morning after pill or the intrauterine device, as well as discourage physicians to carry out in vitro fertilization for fear that they may be criminally charged if the embryo didn’t survive.

The voting for this amendment was very close and perhaps was due simply to its ambiguous wording. So, women of America, vote to keep your body yours. If you are Pro-Choice, the voting results in Mississippi were too close for comfort, defeated 58-42, and unfortunately may foreshadow a coming change. Already a similar personhood amendment is planning to be proposed to Georgia's General Assembly next year. And these aren't the only attacks on women's rights; bills and legisation are constantly being created to stop our access to complete family planning. Just ask yourself, can we afford to lose our right to choose?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TTF - Transgender Task Force

By Nicole Walker

The gender of a person paves the way of one’s life at the first gift of a pink or blue blanket after birth. There are men, women, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and transsexual students.
           Chico State has a wide range of people that are supported by organizations varying from different sexualities, cultural backgrounds, beliefs, values and experiences.One organization that exists - one that CSUC students are not as aware of - is the Transgender Task Force (TTF), which was created three years ago.
TTF creates an ongoing awareness that there are trans students on campus, through tabling and events such as Transgender Day Of Remembrance, as stated by Aydin Kennedy, a Grad student in Social Work and co-founder of TTF.
TTF works to remove many of the barriers that trans students face, such as finding safe bathrooms on campus, changing university forms to create a more streamlined system for name and gender changes, collaborating with others campus resources to help get trans students connected to supportive allies and advocates and creating educational opportunities to the campus community to directly make Chico State a more trans-inclusive campus and community, Kennedy said.
Although the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer community is very known on campus, the trans students aren’t always comfortable identifying in that community, he said.
Transsexual has two meanings; one indicates medical interventions such as hormones or surgery, while the other refers to someone who feels as if their assigned sex (Male or Female) is not related with their actual sex, Kennedy said.
Transgender also has two meanings, one being an umbrella term that throughout its history has included many different expressions of gender and gender identity similar to the use of gay to include gay men and gay women, and the second referring to someone who feels as if their assigned gender, man/masculine or woman/feminine is dissimilar with their gender identity.
“I am both transgender and transsexual,” Kennedy said.When Kennedy transitioned as an undergraduate student in 2007-08, he felt and proved to be very alone.
“I came up against a lot of road blocks,” he said, “many of which have been rectified by the activism and education of TTF.”
Although Chico is a smaller town, there is a strong and very present trans community here, and many of them are students, he said. TTF brings awareness to those who are not trans and hopes to be an ally, support system and advocate for those who are.
“As trans people we have to go through a lot to tell our truth and step out from behind the shadows of our former selves,” he said.
Most students aren’t even aware that there are trans students sitting in classrooms with them, he said. Students aren’t aware that TTF exists and for those who are, they don’t see or understand how it may be relevant to them, Kennedy said.
After noticing the number of students who were coming to counseling because they were dealing with being transgender or in some other way feeling that they didn’t “fit” into society’s binary gender system, Lana McKnight, Counseling and Wellness Center Counselor and founder of TTF, decided to start meetings in order to change and act on these feelings, she said. 
            TTF had a number of challenges to face, such as trying to deal with the school system and the larger community of Chico. Although there was PRIDE/Safe Zone on campus, and other LBGT groups in the community, there seemed to be nothing aimed specifically at the gender non-normative population at the time, she said. 
           “Sexual orientation and gender identification are two different things, so their needs were sometimes not as readily addressed in general LGBT organizations,” McKnight said, “all students benefit from awareness of diversity personally and professionally, I believe.”
            However, finding people who are passionate about the topic, willing to be advocates and comfortable educating people about an often-marginalized group is difficult, she said. 
“My hope is that through TTF, people can find a place within themselves to see and understand that the rigid notions of the gender binary negatively impact all of us, not just trans or gender non-conforming people,” Kennedy said.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LGBTQ school bullying: when will it stop?

Bullying in the LGBTQ community has always been a problem but no one decides to do anything about it. The bullying problem has been arising in high schools and many of the students have committed suicide because they do not want to live with the pain of going to school. They get to a point where they can no longer take the torture and judgment from their classmates. Sometimes even then no one does anything to stop the violence that is silencing so many innocent children and teens. There are children as young as 11 who are self-silencing because they can no longer live with the daily harassment and torture of the continuous verbal and sometimes physical abuse.

Jamey Rodemyer, 1997-2011
That was the case for Jamey Rodemeyer. He had asked for help repeatedly but no one would listen to him. On September 9th Jamey wrote, "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens, what do I have to do so people will listen to me?"  What is most astonishing is Jamey was bullied on school grounds; didn’t teachers and faculty realize what was happening? Or were they too concerned with what would happen to the school if they challenged his bullies? Jamey Rodemeyer is just one of many students who have committed suicide because of verbal and physical abuse through bullying. There are still people in the world who do not accept anyone in the LGBTQ community. When are people going to realize that there is nothing wrong with those who define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer?
 The worst part is there are so many others like Jamey Rodemeyer who are committing suicide at such a young age, and they have so much life ahead of them. It is so horrible to think that these children can go to such a dark place where they no longer want to live.  The time for change is now and people need to realize the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers are no different from you and me. Due to the increasing amount of suicides and extreme LGBTQ based bullying schools have been forced to create an anti-gay bullying law.  Fortunately schools now have to come up with a way to protect their students from anti-gay bullying. Finally something is being done to help prevent the violence going on in our schools, and to protect the LGBTQ community.

        If you or your loved ones are experiencing bullying there is help out there.
24/7 LGBTQ Youth Helpine: 866.488.7386
GLBT National Youth Talkline: 800.371.4373 OR
It Gets Better Project:
Butte County 24 hour Youth Crisis Services Line: 800.371.4373; Adult Crisis Line: 800.334.6622