Gendered Languages

As I become more aware of trans issues and stories (and consider myself an active supporter of human rights), I’ve been thinking a lot about language as a whole and how we use it.

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I speak intermediate Spanish (I am not even close to being fluent, but I can communicate a little more than just the basics). Spanish is a gender-based language, which means that almost all nouns are assigned a gender – everything is either masculine or feminine. For example, “la mesa” means “the table”, which is assigned female as indicated by the -a ending, where as “el boligrafo” – “the pen” – is assigned masculine. Other gendered languages besides Spanish include French, Portguese, Italian, and many more.

English is not a gendered language, which is why our main obstacle for trans individuals in terms of language is pronouns. The other words that we use to describe people are gender-neutral for the most part (for example: tall, short, funny, crazy, etc.).

However, for any trans individuals who speak gendered languages, I imagine that they are constantly being reminded of the bi-gender system. In Spanish, if someone wants to describe a trans person as tall, would they say “alto” or “alta”? Short – “bajo” or “baja”? Crazy – “loco” or “loca”? The trans community in gendered languages have to navigate so much more than just pronouns, including adjectives as well.

Then there are some languages, like Chinese, who do not have pronouns at all – the language itself is almost gender-less as a whole. Some of the gender-less features of these languages focus more of the idea of an “it” rather than a “he/she”, which can be either helpful or problematic depending on how you look at it. To be honest, this isn’t something I have a whole lot of knowledge about but would be really curious to learn.

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Like I said, this is a topic where I have some knowledge to gain. If anyone has experiences in this area with languages other than English, I’d absolutely love to listen! All of this sparked a lot of interest for me as I hear more stories of trans experiences and how they might differ from not just person to person, but also place to place.

Thanks for reading.

Trans Support

Nov 12th – Nov 19th was Trans Awareness Week.trans-rights-are-human-rights-rugs

It’s important to note that I am a cis female (meaning that I identify with the gender that I was assigned to at birth), and while I am also a trans ally and supporter, I cannot speak from personal experience. I do, however, have a very close friend who identifies as non-binary, and have done plenty of research on the topic. I find it significant to be well versed in many areas of the LGBTQ community, as I want to give my support in a variety of ways, including understanding.

Think about a time where you had to wear something that made you uncomfortable. Growing up, I was never very girly, and I hated anything pink or glittery. Wearing something that is bright bubblegum pink with dazzling sparkles was, and is still, one of my worst nightmares. Being forced to wear something like that would absolutely make my skin crawl. I’m sure everyone has something like that, where they wouldn’t be caught dead in it in a million years. Maybe it’s a dress, a suit, something strapless, etc – something that when you put it on makes you go, “this is really not me.” I imagine that this is the feeling that someone has every single day, if they are not living as their authentic self.

My friend who is non-binary uses the pronouns they/them, and doesn’t feel that they fit into a box of either male or female. They were born female, and are currently taking steps to be exactly who they want to be through support of those around them and possibly a top-surgery in the future.

One of the most important and noteworthy things that I have learned through this friendship is that every single person goes on a journey that is entirely different and their own. Each individual who identifies as trans has unique perspectives, desires, and goals. Some may feel that they were born biologically into the wrong gender, while others do not feel that they fit into either category. Just like sexuality, I believe that gender comes on a spectrum, and all of us fall somewhere on this arch. Rather than just checking one box or the other, people are able to fall somewhere in the middle and not be constrained by what is inside of each box.

I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I care about. Planned Parenthood is on this list, and I receive news alerts and updates depending on what is going on during that time. I was prompted via text to take a quiz on my knowledge of trans info and rights, so I decided to give it a go. Here are the questions and information that was shared:*

trans flagTrue or False: The first American to be credited with successfully having sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) was Christina Jorgensen
Answer: True! Jorgensen was drafted by the U.S. Army for WWII. Shortly after, she traveled to Denmark and received special permission for SRS.

trans flagAccording to the 2015 Trans Health Survey, how many self-identified transgender people were there in the U.S.? A: <50k B: 100k to 249k C: 250k to 750k D: > 1 million
Answer: D! Based on a 2015 survey, there are over 1.5 million trans folks who self-identify as trans in the U.S.

trans flagTrue or False: The Affordable Care Act prohibits sex discrimination including transgender discrimination by most health providers and insurance companies.
Answer: True! A guide and other resources on Trans Patient Rights from Natl Center for Trans Equality can be found HERE.

trans flagTrue or False: Our government is trying to block trans people from civil rights protections by defining gender as only male or female based on the genitals you’re born with.
Answer: Sad but true. It erases our trans identities, and people of all gender identities deserve civil and human rights. Trans and gender nonconforming people #WontBeErased.trans heartstrans equality

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting for basic human rights. Support the LGBTQ community as a whole and ensure that absolutely no one is erased.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by Planned Parenthood

For more information and references,
visit https://transequality.org/.

 

Election Diversity!!

rainbow waveFor the first time in a long time, I am feeling hopeful about the future and inspired by much of the election results. There is so much to be celebrated, and there are many “firsts” in office. There are a record number of women holding seats in the House and more than 100 LGBTQ candidates that emerged victorious as of Wednesday afternoon.* I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER ABOUT IT. Let’s celebrate these accomplishments and keep this momentum going!!

  • Abby Finkenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest women elected to congress.
  • Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first navtive american women elected to congress, and Sharice is also a member of the LGBTQ community as well.
  • Ilhan Omar and Fashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to congress, and Ilhan will be the first to wear a hijab.
  • Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected governor in the US.
  • Kate Brown, previously became the first openly bisexual woman elected governor in 2016, was reelected.
  • MANY OPENLY LGBTQ MEMBERS WERE ELECTED INTO CONGRESS, including Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, David Cicilline, Sean Patrick Malony, Krysten Sinema, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano
  • Other LGBTQ members of the house include Angie Craig, Chris Pappas, and more.

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These faces give me hope that the best of times are still ahead of us.

#Wave

Thanks for reading.

Images from instagram @refinery29 @glaad @nowthisnews
Woman and LGBTQ members in office, according to *NBCnews.com

VOTE! (The Midterms)

The past two years has been overwhelming, chaotic, and created a clear divide in our country. If we can look at any silver linings of current events, it’s that the issues that still exist in our country are being brought to the public’s attention. So now, it’s our time to act on it.

The 2014 midterm election had the lowest turn out in over 72 years. The last time voter turnout was this low was during WWII in 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots. In 2014, only 36.4% of eligible voters showed up at the polls.* And what happened as a result? We ended up with two people on the ballot that a large majority of the country did not want to support. The chaos of the 2016 election was largely due to the fact that nobody was getting involved until it was too late to do anything besides choose your lesser of two evils. However, the turnout for the midterms can large affect the outcome of the general election that will happen in 2020.

As a result of the current administration, more and more activists are getting involved in advocacy to raise awareness on issues such as women’s rights, gun reform, immigration, and more. And with recent events, the LGBT community is standing strong to keep rights as well. Change is happening, and we can see it and feel it everywhere, but it won’t make a difference unless we show up to vote.

If you are feeling overwhelmed because you don’t feel informed, there are so many easy ways to quickly gain the insight you need. By visiting Vote411.org, you can type in your address and get information about who and what is going to be on your ballot. You will get a breakdown of each candidate and what they support, as well as provided with the location of your polling place. Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM today, so there’s still plenty of time to get out there!

You’ve heard it on the news. You’ve heard it on social media. You’ve heard it from your local representatives. You’ve heard it from your friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and everyone else. VOTE. Not just in 2020, vote TODAY. Make sure you have a say. Make sure your voice is heard. Make sure you exercise your right that so many others do not have.vote2So again, I ask – did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

National Trend 1789-Present

*Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in [the 2014] midterm elections,
down from 40.9% who voted in 2010. The last time voter turnout was 
that low was 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots,
according to the United States Elections Project - TIME

Wedding Season

Basically half of my summer has been taken over by weddings and its festivities. Two bachelorette parties down, two weddings, and three more to go before 2019 hits.

As somebody who doesn’t really envision marriage in my future, this is an interesting time for me. I do love weddings, and I will gladly tear up a dance floor after they say “I do”. However, I just don’t really see myself as a wife. I’ve always felt this way, despite being told over and over again that I will change my mind. (Insert humongous eye roll here.) That being said, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the way I would want things at my wedding, even though I don’t even necessarily picture myself having one. I think a lot of these thoughts are ones that as women, we are programmed to have ideas about. Who would be our bridesmaids? What colors would we pick? What kind of dress would we want to wear? But a wedding does not make the marriage, it’s just the celebration.

And weddings are expensive. Even as a bridesmaid, I shelled out a decent amount of money for my friend’s big day (and bachelorette party of course). This can really add up.. between bridal showers, day-of expenses, and not to mention the additional gift of money that is expected inside a card as well. Unless the bride is someone that I am super close with, I’ll gladly skip out on a bridal shower to save some change.

I had two close friends get engaged this year, which of course led to their bachelorette parties. I was in one of these weddings, and the bridal party flew out to Vegas to celebrate the last fling before the ring. It was a small party, so traveling was in scope, and it was many of the girls’ first times to LV. We truly had a blast, but my bank account was really feeling that trip hard when I got home. The other bachelorette party I attended was in Ocean City Maryland, and I hardly knew anyone going into the weekend. This can definitely provide you with some awkward situations as you start to get to know everyone, but it’s best to just remember what you have in common – the bride. It’s also fun to buy into the “let loose” atmosphere and the penis shaped decorations.

It was very easy for me to feel a little lost throughout these processes. It’s not like I am against marriage in any way – my parents are celebrating 30 years of happy marriage this fall. I’ve seen my loved ones spend their entire lives with someone and never regret a single thing. I think marriage is a wonderful foundation for a family, and I don’t fault anyone for wanting this out of life. That being said, I often feel “different” for not wanting the same things as everyone else. Yes, I have some preferences for wedding choices in my head, but I don’t see myself walking down an isle someday. So in the midst of the “when it’s your turn…” and the “I’m next” comments, it’s safe to say I felt a little broken. Like maybe there is something wrong in my head for not wanting all this, too. I feel very reminded of those who may be disappointed by my decisions, and it’s often a lot to swallow. That being said, nothing stopped me or will stop me from having fun at the celebrations.

Weddings are basically just a big party about love, which is why I enjoy them. Everyone has the chance to get all dressed up for a special occasion. Pictures always turn out nice, and it’s usually a good chance to catch up with far away loved ones. It’s also a great atmosphere for all involved, with reminders of love everywhere. I definitely found it moving to see someone’s special day come together. The ones who matter most get highlighted during the ceremony and reception, and everyone else gets a chance to share in that love. It’s easy to get caught up in it all, because love can be truly intoxicating.

wedding

Like I said, three weddings to go!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Addiction Support

A lot of misconceptions exist surrounding addicts and addiction. People often consider addiction a choice, saying that it is not a disease. Addiction is genetic, and can be passed down the same as heart disease or cancer. Addiction is a mental illness similar (or in addition to) depression, anxiety, and more. Addiction is a medical condition and needs to be taken seriously.

One of the celebrities that I love and follow celebrated 6 years of sobriety from a substance that he struggled an addiction with. He posted regarding this acheivement and wrote, “Everyday I work hard to stay clean, healthy and aware … it’s an ongoing, full-time  job to stay clean.”

I think it’s important to bring awareness to this community and what they go through. I know that the opioid crisis has been making news over the past several years, but I am talking on a personal level. Internal and external battles happen every single day, and so much of it is wildly outside of their control. Just because you are not actively using does not mean that you are not struggling. I was told once by an addict that addiction is the disease and drugs/alcohol are just the symptoms.

One thing I learned through being close to someone who struggled with addiction is that it is a hard community to be a part of. There is a lot of bad news that comes with being an addict. I heard constant updates about a friend relapsing, someone going to jail/prison, or the worst news of all – someone losing their life. When all you hear is bad news, and you see your friends battle and struggle, I’m sure its difficult to continue on with your own fight.

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This is why support for this community is so important. Be kind and understanding. Celebrate victories and achievements. Share stories, quotes or other sources of inspiration. Find reasons to continue the fight, and nurture them.

And most importantly, spread hope. Whether you are an addict yourself or know a friend or loved one who struggles with addiction, or even if you have no experience at all, hope is the most important thing. Hope gives everyone a reason to continue to fight and to overcome obstacles.

I encourage everyone to take the time to educate yourself on addiction and what the journey of recovery looks like. Support those in the community and spread hope for healing.

Remember that every single person on the planet is fighting a battle that you may know absolutely nothing about.

Thanks for reading.

VOTE! (The Primary)

Politics can honestly be extremely overwhelming these days. But, there has been a lot of talk around issues that I care a lot about, so I’ve been doing what I can to follow the next election. I can’t say that I am happy about the social climate that we are living in, so I want to do what I can to make a change. I ‘Marched for our Lives’ in D.C. on March 24th for gun control, I’ve signed petitions to support DACA and related issues, and today, I VOTED.

I think that our country’s bipartisan system is outdated, and whole electoral vs. popular vote thing is super wack. When I was first 18, it made me feel like my vote didn’t actually count at all. I felt small and I didn’t think I could be heard. After I got a little older, there were too many issues that made me passionate and I wanted to be involved. And, I learned that my voice can be heard as long as it’s loud enough.

It truly doesn’t take much to do some quick research into candidates. I subscribe to emails from rockthevote.org and ballotpedia.org to get updates on things like candidates in my party, voting events, and more. Both sites are unbiased, and just reading a couple emails here and there helped me find candidates that support the same issues that I care about. If you are lucky, your city or county might help you out also – so open your mail! I received a handout via snail mail from my district that had a list of running candidates, and a check mark or an X next to different voting issues to indicate which they supported or opposed.

Information is everywhere, so go find it! Then – go vote!

The same sites that I get my information from provide a resource to help me find my polling place. Most voting locations are open 7AM – 8PM, so there is still time to go in the evening even if you can’t make it during the day. Knowing when and where to vote in the Primaries will make things even easier for you to vote in the Midterms in November – and every election day thereafter.

VOTE

Part of my motivation to vote in the primaries comes from being a millennial. Millennials are the largest population of voters, but we have one of the lowest turnouts – especially in the primaries. Current social issues and recent events have made our generation more passionate about the social climate, but nothing will change unless we act on it.

So, did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.