VOTE! (The Primary)

For many parts of the country, it’s election day! There have been historical highs in the last couple of elections for voter turnout, specifically in younger demographics and minority groups. Women really showed up for the midterm, voting at higher rates than the men! Most voters reported that they had a positive voting experience, and policies have become priority over partisanship.*vote 3Do you know who and what you’re voting for? There are so many great people looking to run and make a change, so it’s important to know where you are going to lend your support. As always, I know it can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s just a super quick reminder on how to make this easy. 

To find information on your polling place and what to expect on your ballot, I recommend visiting vote411.org and clicking on “Your Voting Guide”. You will be prompted to put in your address to see where to vote, as well as other links and resources. I suggest actually going through your ballot, where you will be asked to claim your party in order to get personalized information on candidates and the issues they are addressing. You will see exactly what you should expect to see at your polling place, but with additional facts and statements from the candidates as well. You can also visit other sites such as ballotpedia.org and rockthevote.org to get accurate and unbiased information on the elections.

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Stay informed! Exercise your right. Show support to issues you care about. And most importantly, make a difference. The polls are open until 8PM, so GO VOTE!

Thanks for reading.

*In a year of record midterm turnout, 

women continued to vote at higher rates than men,
 
and there were historic highs in 2019 across
racial 
and ethnic groups, according to Pew Research Center.

Out & About (Feb 2019)

adp pride 3I am lucky and fortunate enough to work for a company that is very socially conscious and progressive in various areas. My company does a lot of charity work, including giving each employee 8 volunteer hours of PTO to use each year. They give parental leave to anyone who is becoming a parent – which includes fathers, adoption, LGBTQ couples, and more. They also have internal organizations to join to help you feel a sense of community, which includes a Pride organization that publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, titled “Out & About.”*

adp pride 2

There were three key pieces of news and information that was shared in the February 2019 issue of “Out & About” that I wanted to highlight, as they are extremely important milestones in LGBTQ history:

1. LGBTQ Representation in Record Numbers
This was something that I highlighted in my post-election post that celebrated the diversity we had just elected into office, and was also highlighted in the magazine as well. Representation in our government now includes record high numbers of open LGBTQ community members. This year, we swore into office our first openly bisexual Senate member and the first lesbian parent in Congress (making 10 total LGBTQ members overall). Having these perspectives in office can greatly help to provide a more well-rounded basis of legislation, and can better represent the people in which they are governing.

2. Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act
The Governor of New York signed this act on January 25th, which adds gender identity and gender expression to their list of protected classes. This ensures that Transgender and Non-Binary individuals are protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and bathroom access (many other states have already put this in place). New York also passed a law that bans conversion therapy, along with 14 other states who have banned the outdated practice as well. Conversation therapy has never shown evidence of affecting a persons sexual preference, but instead has only proved to have intense damages as a result. As a result of these two changes, New York has made great strides in supporting the LGBTQ community.

3. LGBTQ Inclusivity in School
New Jersey has passed a law that will recognize LGBTQ members of history in middle school and high school curricula. This will show the leaders and contributors of history as well as LGBTQ milestones and perspectives. Having this requirement in classrooms can greatly normalize the community during important and formative years. The law also requires that there is more inclusion for individuals with disabilities. This inclusion to the education in NJ should better represent the world overall and should help celebrate all world perspectives.

out and about

I feel very grateful that my workplace is recognizing some of the same values that are important to me, and celebrating milestones alongside the LGBTQ community. And I hope that more history continues to be made.

Thanks for reading.

*Out & About is an ADP resource intended for internal use only.

Universal Background Checks Bill

tomns.JPGRemember TOMS®? The super cute slip on shoes that would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes that you purchase? As if this company wasn’t socially conscious enough, TOMS® is now doing even more.

I’m a big advocate for a reform on gun control, hoping that we can live in a world where gun safety is regulated the way automobile safety is. I believe in universal background checks, routine safety regulations, and appropriate training for all guns that are issued. I myself do not want to ever own a gun, as that would make me wildly uncomfortable, but I understand that others may feel differently. On a PERSONAL level, I hate guns. On a REALISTIC level, I just want the proper protocols to be in place.

After all, over 90% of Americans agree on universal background checks.*

Think about all the steps it takes to own a car. You have to study to pass a written test to get your license. Then, after practicing with a licensed adult, you earn your hours and take your driver’s test to get your real license. Then, you update that routinely. You also obtain a vehicle, which is also checked routinely to ensure the safety of you and those around you. While on the road, you obey the laws of the road, and you don’t let others drive your car who aren’t legally allowed to do so. If you break the law and get caught, you’ll get fines and penalties against your license, and could even have it taken away if you do not follow legislation. Now, nothing will ever prevent accidents from happening, but think about how much more chaos there would be if we didn’t have these rules and regulations for automobiles in place. Why do we not have the same routines for gun control? Both are man-made objects that accidentally take the lives of innocent people every single day. Why are they not treated the same?

UBGC 4On January 8th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require universal background checks for all gun sales.* The bill is knows as H.R.8, and is a gigantic step for the gun reform movement. This proves that even in such divided times, we still have the ability to agree on basic human issues, and we can affect change.

UBGC 3

In an effort to help push this action, TOMS® has launched a postcard campaign to streamline a way to contact the representatives. By just providing your information via the TOMS® website, you could help take action on this very important issue. Over 720,000 postcards were hand-delivered to Congress as a result of the TOMS® Brand’s effort to make a difference. One of them, of course, was mine!

And now, we can proudly say that the universal background checks bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives!

UBGC 6I hope that this is a historical first step into ending gun violence in the United States. Next stop: THE SENATE! We still have a long way to go, so please remember to vote this November for the representatives that are helping to make the world a better place.

Thanks for reading!

*All information found on the TOMS® website.
Visit https://www.toms.com/ for more information on how TOMS®
is getting involved, how you can help, or to go shoe shopping.

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.

gl1

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.

election

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