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Happy 4th of July! For this one, I thought I’d keep it short and sweet since I’m sure everyone is going to be out and about or otherwise enjoying the day (hopefully weather permits).  Today, I thought it would be fun to go over a list of 4th of July traditions. I’ll be highlighting some of the largest St. Louis traditions, and some of my best places in St. Louis to partake in these traditions for those who’d rather not do so at home.

Barbecue

What would the 4th of July be without good ol’ BBQ? An old southern tradition dating back to the early 1800s, it is a stable of many summer holidays in the U.S. My family and I would barbecue in our back yard every year, cooking everything from ribs and chicken, to baked beans and grilled corn on the cob. My community calls it the “cookout”, where family and friends gather, bring a dish or two, and have a great time. In recent years, though, we’ve preferred to go out and get our Q’ elsewhere, have someone else do the work for a change as my mother and I say. Two of my favorite places to go are Sugarfire Smokehouse, which has several locations including Olivette (which we frequent) and downtown on Market, and Bogart’s Smokehouse in Soulard, right by behind Soulard Market/Park. Sugarfire is particularly unique due to their several different BBQ sauces. Their coffee BBQ sauce is my absolute favorite. Bogart’s specializes in St. Louis and Memphis style BBQ and they have some of the meatiest ribs I’ve ever eaten. Both are open on the 4th and offer the options of dine-in, carryout, and catering, but be warned—lines can be long and supplies are limited.

Their websites, along with a guide to the best BBQ in and near the city, are linked below:

http://www.sugarfiresmokehouse.com/

http://bogartssmokehouse.com/

https://www.stlmag.com/dining/the-best-BBQ-joints-in-st-louis-in-2015/

Fireworks

Probably the most important event of the entire holiday, the use of fireworks dates back to 7th Century China, and has been used in 4th of July celebrations since the very day in 1777. My family and I would pop fireworks at night on our front porch, and going firework shopping was a kind of event for my siblings and I and our dad. We’d drive downtown to watch the fireworks across the river and sometimes we’d brave the crowd in Forest Park. Eventually, though, for one reason or another, we opted to simply watch the fireworks on television; we liked watching other cities’ displays and flipped between channels to see the displays in Forest Park and across the Mississippi. Sometimes we’d still want to go out and watch them in person. For those who don’t want to or cant go to Forest Park but still want to watch outside, one of the best spots to do that is on/near Hampton (right down the street from UCC!) off Highway 40. Last year we watched in Turtle Park off of Oakland Avenue, and just last night my mother and I saw people parked on the street going toward Forest Park Community College and the Science Center, watching outside and in their cars. You wont miss a beat.

Want to know where else you can catch a fireworks show? Check out the link below:

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/artsblog/2016/06/28/your-complete-guide-to-st-louis-fireworks-2016

Parades

4th of July parades are a must for many people. St. Louis has several. Although I haven’t been to one in years, as our summers have seemingly gotten hotter and hotter —opting to channel surf for different parades in the city and around the country on TV—, I still have fond memories of the one that ran down Market, the one closest to my home. However, St. Louis has many 4th of July celebrations, so don’t worry about having to travel to far; I’m sure you can find one close to you. One of the best things is that you don’t have to worry about catching them all in one day. They are spread out over they days leading up to and on the 4th.

Below I have a helpful link that details the times, dates, and descriptions of 15 of St. Louis’ most popular celebrations. If this is coming to little to late this year, you can always plan for next year. Check it out:

http://stlouis.about.com/od/topattractions/tp/2009_4th_of_july.htm

Well, I did say this would be short and sweet, so that’s all I’ve got. Hopefully, I’ve helped whatever St. Louisan is reading this with their 4th of July plans, or inspired some out-of-towner to give our city/state a visit this time next year. Me? I’m going to watch Independence Day reruns, and eat BBQ to go. Maybe I’ll pop a firework or two. In any case, happy 4th of July everyone!

P.S. (to Missouri and Illinois residents), Stay dry!

 

Article written by UCC intern Janelle. M.

Pulse

Nightclub Shooting California Vigil

Massacre

A little more than a week ago on last Saturday, a gunman walked into Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub on Latin Night, and opened fire. It was after 2:00, peak attendee hours for just about any club. It was densely packed. The situation transformed into a hostage situation that took three hours to resolve, eventually ending in the gunman’s death via police gunfire. In the end, 49 people were killed and another 53 were injured.

Those who survived described the terror they endured. The gunman was shooting with no apparent objective except to kill as many as he could. Some hid in bathrooms, some already shot, in hopes that they could somehow hide from the gunman. One man thought that if he played dead, he could escape his wrath. The gunman, however, made sure he was thorough. He would shoot at the bodies of those living and dead as they lay on the floor. He would go into the restrooms, putting his hand over the stalls, and fire his weapon. One survivor described the scene, saying there were bodies piled on top of the toilet and stall floor. Others describe the terror as they hid with the stench and sight of blood seeping on the floor, some sitting in it themselves from theirs and others’ wounds and from inside and outside the restroom. Texts were sent to loved ones begging for help, typing what some genuinely thought were some of their last words, telling those who mattered that they loved them. For others, those texts turned out to be just that. The sheer brutality of it, the thought of the helplessness those in Pulse must have felt as they were trapped, it saddens me a tremendous amount. This is the deadliest terror attack next to 9/11, and the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s modern history.

Why?

The shooter was 29-year-old Omar Mateen. He was described by those who knew him, including co-workers and an ex-wife, as a violent man looking for an excuse to do something violent. Apparently, he had been this way since he young. He was abusive to his ex and current wives, described as having a hatred for women. In particular, he was said to have a strong hatred for the LGBTQIA community. One incident described was his outrage over the sight of two men kissing in front of him and his son. Others pointed out that he was a racist, who expressed a hatred for black people, although this contradicts the statements of some survivors describing how he told them that he did not, in fact, hate black people, and “attempted” to “spare” their lives. I don’t believe it.

The motive is still unclear. Some say that he was mentally ill. Others say that he was motivated by religion, despite his family stating that he wasn’t religious; he never practiced it. Others say that America’s bombing of his family’s home country, Afghanistan, motivated him, as he was reported stating. Most people agree that ISIS, their terrorism giving him ideas for acting out his own rage, inspired him. He was even subject to an investigation for his online following of the organization. One theory gaining traction is that he was perhaps a closeted gay man, who for whatever reason (religion, societal and personal homophobia, strict and disapproving parents, etc.) felt as if he could not live as who he really was. The evidence that supports this claim lies within his attendance in gay clubs, online presence on gay apps, and his ex-wife’s expressed doubts about his sexuality. This…“crisis”, for lack of a better word, could have manifested itself into a homicidal hatred.

On one hand, from what I read, it seems as if he was saying and doing whatever he could do to hide his true intent, the real reason for his rampage. Ultimately, though, I believe that his motives are the accumulation of a number of things mentioned above. All of societies and his personal ills combined in the mind of a hateful and evil individual.

Impact

Knowing several people within the LGBTQIA community who frequent clubs such as Pulse, this tragedy hitting a little too close to home, I have gained a valuable perspective on the devastation of this terror. The LGBTQIA community is small, even smaller among non-white members who were most of those slain. This is a huge loss for them. Due to disdain directed to them from hetero/cis normative/homophobic society, many are forced to congregate in certain places, clubs being a major venue. The importance of clubs such as Pulse in the LGBTQIA community cannot be stressed enough. They aren’t just places to dance and drink. For many individuals, clubs are among some of the only places outside of the Internet where they can meet people like them, where they can be themselves. They are homes to those who figuratively and actually, don’t have them. Clubs like Pulse offer a safe environment where people can meet and form many close relationships, friendly and romantic alike. These clubs can be a place where one can seek counsel and find resources otherwise unavailable to them. Again, these clubs are important.

Ironically enough, the terrorist himself demonstrated one of the reasons these places are so necessary, with his reaction to the two men he saw kissing. LGBTQIA individuals live phobic world where it is demonstrated, violently even, time and time again that they are unwelcome. It speaks volumes that one of the few place where they could go and escape that judgment they still weren’t safe. Even if Pulse was just a place to drink and dance like any other club, the point still stands—Mateen intruded on their space.

I cannot go without mentioning the impact that this will have on all those groups who will inevitably be thrown under the bus as people attempt to find reasoning in this violence. One group is the LGBTQIA community, with the insulation that it was a gay man’s internalized homophobia that caused this and not the homophobia perpetuated everyday by heterosexual and cisgendered people and our society. As someone else put it, no one wants to admit that they have anything in common with someone who murdered 49 people and injured 53. But as uncomfortable as it is, one of the steps in keeping this from happening again is to admit when we do, and examine and rectify those behaviors and beliefs. While I am not saying that mental illness wasn’t a factor, I’ve seen the stigma rear its ugly head again in these discussions surrounding his probable mental illness. I actually believe that this may have been a factor. However, once again, the only time most care about mental illness is when some terrible act is carried out, inadvertently attributing it to violence despite contradicting evidence—then many go right back to not giving a crap. The most affected groups outside of LGBTQIA communities are the Muslim and Islam communities. I’m not surprised to see people blaming these groups for their “hateful” religion and their “ISIS support” (fyi, most killed by ISIS are Muslims and followers of Islam), and for being “extremely homophobic” (ignoring the LGBTQIA communities in those groups). Funny, because I don’t see anyone blaming Christians for the KKK, but I suppose that’s for another day.

But it’s all coming out, more so than usual. Paintbrushes and broad strokes abound.

Just for the record, this intern hopes that this finally brings about changes in gun laws. And yes, yes. I know that criminals and murderers will find a way where there’s a will; the least we could do is not make it easy for them.

Victims

Lastly, I want to shine the light on those slain.

It was Latin night in city with a big Latin and POC population. Most of the victims, living and dead were Latinos and other POC.

Those who perished ranged in ages 18 to 50. A young woman was celebrating her graduation from high school. A mother sacrificed her own life to protect that of her son’s. A couple that was planning a wedding is now having joint funerals.

I leave below a link with a list of the victims’ names, faces, and stories. I encourage people to look at them, read them. They aren’t just names on a list; they were people whose lives amounted to more than their sexuality and how they died. Rest in peace.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/12/481785763/heres-what-we-know-about-the-orlando-shooting-victims

 

Article written by UCC intern Janelle. M.

No Exceptions

stanford

She did everything right. She got taken to the hospital, got a rape kit done, pressed charges, had witnesses, argued her case in court with said witnesses and physical evidence from said kit. She did everything right.

The jury, thankfully, ruled in her favor. Her rapist was convicted on all counts. She did everything right. Then, it became undone. Of the justice she thought she thought she had, she only received a small fraction of it; her rapist only received a small fraction of the punishment he was owed. But she did everything right. Didn’t she?

According to society and the legal system, she did. Like others have said, this is why this case has resonated with so many across the nation. It showed people and further instilled within knowing victims that even if you do everything right, take all the necessary steps, the rapist’s(s) comfort is still valued more than victim’s pain. From the rapist’s letter blaming “party culture”, the father’s egregious comments on how his son shouldn’t be fully punished for “20 minutes of action”, to the judge’s equally egregious statements about how the minimum sentence would be too long of a prison sentence and would have to harsh of an impact on a young rapist, it was clear that none of them had any regard for the victim.

Class, race, sex, and gender-based privileges allowed this woman’s rapist to hide behind these privileges and escape any true form of punishment for his crimes. Many, both innocent and guilty, accused of rape have gone to prison with far less evidence. Usually, they are non-white and/or lower class. To add insult to injury, the rapist proposed that he tour college campuses and lecture about the dangers and ills of “party culture”—he never really admitted to his crimes and scapegoated his way through the trial. He claims that before entering college, he never drank or did drugs and basically chalks his actions up to culture shock. That, however, was recently proven to be false due to photographic and textual evidence suggesting and outright telling of times when he did, in fact, use drugs and alcohol before entering college. And besides, plenty of people drink, and/or get drunk and don’t rape people. The victim certainly didn’t.

What I want to spotlight, however, is the victim’s letter/statement to her rapist. Her bravery shines as she takes control of the narrative and tells the reality that so many victims face in the aftermath of their assaults. I think that it should be required reading for teenage/college-age boys and youth, to see that rape is not about “X-minutes of action”, and that these actions have real life consequences and effects that last long after the initial assault. I found myself, with all of my previous knowledge of realities of sexual assaults, tearing up by the end. I end my writings with a thank-you to the victim for exhibiting courage in the face of so much adversity to do what many often cant. I can only hope that some good can rise from this horrible situation and inspire real changes in prevention and punishment of/for these crimes. I leave readers with the victim’s statement linked below.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/08/us/stanford-rape-victim-statement.html?_r=0

 

Article written by UCC intern J.M.

Going Ape

Screen shot 2016-06-08 at 10.10.37 AM

First, I love animals—well, except snakes. I had many pets growing up and zoos were among my favorite places to be. Animal cruelty sickens me and I have little compassion for those who perpetuate it in most circumstances. I am one of those people who would rather be in the company of an animal (except snakes) than most people. Second, I’ll admit it—kids aren’t exactly my favorite people. I am part of the “watch/control your [expletive] kids brigade” on a lot of occasions. Third, I respect most zoos and their work to educate the public to foster a love and reverence for animals. I respect all of the work that zoos do to try and conserve species that my possible-future children might grow up without.

With all that being said I thought that lot of the outrage over the death of Harambe, the Silverback gorilla that was killed after a child fell into his enclosure, was off-putting and a bit ridiculous. It is unfortunate that a critically endangered animal was killed, but it would have been equally, if not more unfortunate if the child had died. Some would argue that human life mattering more than animal life is matter of perception, a philosophical question riddled with pro-human bias. However, as much as I love and respect animals, I would choose human life over theirs nine times out of ten. That one remaining time is reserved for the most horrible of human beings—but that’s neither here nor there. What I found most egregious was the furor directed at the child and his parents, particularly his mother.

I saw the video. Amanda O’Donoughue writes in her detailed and insightful opinion on Harambe’s actions and zoos based on her years of experiences as a zoo keeper and animal lover (gorillas being her favorite), that what people thought was playful behavior was really an elaborate and exaggerated display of dominance that is known of male Silverbacks. She states that Silverbacks are dangerous animals. They are Class 1 mammals alongside lions, tigers, and bears due to sheer size and strength; she never worked with Silverbacks without a barrier between them. She was extra, extra careful to make sure she and they stayed separated. She also writes that for some reason, the video that initially came out did not include the scene where Harambe dragged the toddler by the ankle through the water against the concrete. Many others and I were surprised the boy didn’t drown, let alone die in the 10-15 ft. drop into the enclosure. O’Donoughue writes that Harambe probably wasn’t going to let the child go without causing serious harm to him. In my opinion, even if Harambe was playing with the child the way he would with a young gorilla, humans are not gorillas. The way Harambe and many other animals play with their young could and would seriously injure a human child. This is a simple matter of biology. That child was in clear danger.

On the note of biology, Harambe was a 400+ pound animal with the strength of ten adult men. As many experts wrote and said regarding the incident, he could crust a coconut with his bare hand! Humans need everything from a hammer and chisel to do that, and even then it could take a couple of tries. One blow from him could have seriously hurt or even killed that child. I agree with the zoo response team and other experts; tranquilizing wouldn’t have worked. From my limited knowledge of animals and from the knowledge of others I mentioned, an animal that big and powerful is not going to go down immediately. It’s going to take a minute—about ten according to my research—but first? It ‘s going to piss the animal off. I’ve seen it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9_84RpsYtc

As you can see, the primate’s behavior became very erratic after being shot with the dart and he was still holding on strong. That erratic and violent behavior could’ve seriously injured or killed the child. The aforementioned response team and experts state that tranquilizing Harambe could have resulted in his death and the child’s. Harambe could have fell on the child and drowned them both in the moat.

The mother has faced a firestorm of criticism calling her a terrible and negligent mother. There is even a petition on change.org with 500,000+ signatures calling for charges against her for child endangerment and negligence, pushing for CPS to investigate their home! She also received death threats! I am not a parent, but I remember being a child with extremely watchful parents and I’m around parents everyday. Every parent has taken their eyes off of their child for a second. Every parent. It is physically impossible to watch your children every nanosecond of every day. Those who say it is are grossly overestimating even the most watchful parent’s capabilities. And children that age are fast. Eyewitnesses who were right there corroborated that the child was there one second, and then he wasn’t. The longest time I read between the mother looking away and onlookers’ spotting him entering/in the enclosure was one minute, meaning that it would only have been a matter of seconds between his mother looking away and he scurrying off. I’ve seen parents looking right at their children and the child suddenly bolted before the parent could catch them, the parent running around after them. Witnesses say that the mother was looking for the child within the minute he managed to get inside the enclosure. I’m sorry, but it takes a little more than that to prove child endangerment and negligence. Heidi Stevens wrote a great article on the ills of social media and public shaming regarding Harambe’s death; it’ll be linked below the article.

Lastly, let me start off by saying this. I don’t particularly like making everything a race issue, though I believe race permeates almost every aspect of our society and lives in the largest and subtlest of ways. However, this incident became a race issue when people began bringing up the father’s criminal record. The father, who, mind you, wasn’t even there! My racist senses were tingling because it was eerily reminiscent of each and every time a black person has been killed or attacked unjustly and their criminal records, or the records of someone close to them, are brought up a means to justify whatever bad thing happened to them. In this case, it was used to tarnish the innocence of the little boy and condemn the mother. It as used as a means to justify the personal attacks on the little boy and his mother and as a defense for some of the truly heinous things faux activists were saying, like how the child and/or his mother should have been left to die and/or shot instead of Harambe. I wish I could say I was surprised that anti-black racism managed to creep it’s way into this unfortunate event, but I’m not. Take what you will from that statement.

So who do I think is to blame? If anyone, it’s the zoo. First, when I researched zoos for a project a last year in college, I became aware of how vague some of the standards of even the most revered institutions/organizations can be in regards to many things, like how to keep the animals in and people out. I wouldn’t be surprised if despite the Cincinnati Zoo’s high rating, there were areas of safety they lacked in. Second, zoos are advertised as family friendly places, places you can bring children too; they encourage exploration. In that case, they need to make sure everything is childproof. There is really no reason a 3 year old should have been able to figure out a way through an enclosure barrier in less than a minute. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen, this incident proving it could.

This isn’t the first time enclosure barriers have concerned me. Even as a child I remember thinking that it would be so easy for me to fall or climb over into even the most dangerous animal’s enclosures. I agree with Amanda O’Donoughue—some zoos have compromised safety for aesthetic purposes. As I got older the feeling only persisted; however, I also knew which animals not to even entertain that thought let a lone do it. That brings me to another problem. I think that some people, especially kids, don’t realize how dangerous some of these animals are. I kept seeing people refer to Harambe and gorillas as “gentle giants”, and while I believe that is mostly true, I think that maybe in (over) doing so, some may forget to emphasize how dangerous these animals can be. Maybe the child wouldn’t have thought it was such a good idea to go inside Harambe’s enclosure. I wonder if he would have willingly gone in a lion or a tiger’s enclosure, with how much the danger aspect of these animals is emphasized.

Ultimately, I think that this unfortunate incident was just that. Sometimes, accidents really do happen, where no party is particularly to blame. I think that we have forgotten that in our need, whether it’s basic human nature or cultivated by society, to find a singular cause for unfortunate occurrences. Sometimes the universe or what have you aligns to create the perfect set of unfortunate circumstances that lead to a horrible outcome, the perfect storm. I truly think that Harambe’s death is an example of that.

Thankfully the police have decided not to charge the parents with anything. Hopefully that will silence the critics. It probably won’t.

Below are the links to Amanda O’Donoughue’s Facebook post and Heidi Stevens’ article.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20160601-a-former-zookeeper-clears-up-some-misconceptions-a.ece

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20160601-a-former-zookeeper-clears-up-some-misconceptions-a.ece

Article written by UCC intern J.M.

 

To Pee or Not to Pee

Unisex_pictogram

I know, I know. It’s a rather silly title for a surprisingly serious topic. The act of using the restroom is something that many of us probably never gave a second thought. You’re a boy/man? Great! Use the boy’s/men’s restroom. You’re a girl/woman? Even better! Use the girl’s/women’s restroom. It’s simple, right? If the furor surrounding HB 2, now heralded as “the bathroom bill”, in North Carolina has taught those uninformed anything, it’s that going to potty is anything but.

Where to use the restroom is being shown as a privilege that many take for granted. There are two main terms in this debate that are being wielded as weapons on both sides—gender and sex. They are often used interchangeably but there are, however, differences. One (sex) deals with physical characteristics, and the other (gender) deals within the realms of mental, emotional, cultural, and societal and social contexts.

For many people, gender and sex exist on a binary plane. There are only two sexes—male and female—with two primary differing characteristics—penis and vagina. At birth, we are generally designated male or female based on those characteristics. While that, scientifically, should only determine one’s sex, society takes it a step further and uses biological sex to determine one’s gender. Gender, similar to sex, is the state of being male or female, but unlike sex, there are other factors that contribute to it aside from the physical. As I mentioned before, those factors include, mental, emotional, cultural, societal and social influences. People whose gender identity is opposite or something other than their designated biological sex are labeled transgender.

For those of us whose gender identity agrees with our designated biological sex, there’s a label for us too, and it’s not the word “normal”, like many would want to believe (because lets be honest, no one likes being labeled and made to feel like the “other”). What we are called is “cisgender” or “cis” for short.

This—gender identity—is the very conflict at the heart HB 2. North Carolina’s bathroom bill stipulates that transgender individuals have to, by law, use the restroom that corresponds with their biological sex, and not their gender identity. Thus, it conflates, intentionally or not, gender and biological sex while giving precedence to the latter. To those it affects and their supporters, it outright ignores and invalidates their gender identities.

To be frank, throughout my research, I found many issues with this bill. I thought it’d be helpful to make a list; after all, everyone loves lists:

  1. It was passed during a special session that at $42,000 a day was so costly the Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCory, actually opposed it. Which is ironic because he was one of the main driving forces behind the bill. He suggested that they opt for regular session instead, but others in HB 2’s corner wanted to enact the bill before the other, anti-discrimination bill that protected transgender individuals, was enforced.
  2. No protection against discrimination based on sexuality or veteran status is offered.
  3. It’s not just the LGBTQIA community that’s affected. HB 2 prevents cities and counties in NC from raising the minimum wage.
  4. It may not even be constitutional! The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against NC under claims that HB 2 is in violation of Title VII (Civil Rights Act of 1964), and thus, illegal. That will have to be proven in court though.
  5. Money, money, money. Depending on whom you talk to it could potentially cost the state of North Carolina millions or billions of dollars. Celebrity backlash among the more liberal-aligned was fierce with many in the music industry refusing to perform in NC as long as HB 2 stands and other famous attractions refusing come. The NBA is threatening to move its All-Star game elsewhere. The revenue generated from tourism will decrease. Some companies and agencies are refusing to expand in NC, costing money and jobs. That constitutionality issue? It costs to fight a lawsuit and the DOJ isn’t the only entity who filed against NC. Just in case that wasn’t enough, if found in violation of Title IX—which is the Department of Education’s very own anti-discrimination/civil rights law—it could have a severe negative impact on the education budget. The DoED could pull funding. It makes one ask, is HB 2 literally worth it?

This list is not an exhaustive compilation of every issue there is to be had with HB 2, yet the ones listed were enough to make me question the intent and ramifications of enacting the bill.

What was the intent behind the bill, and why is going to the restroom such a big deal to transgender people?

My research showed me that the primary reasoning for HB 2 is the protection of women and children. Many supporters claim that allowing transgender people to use their gender identified restroom would open the door for cis-male predators to take advantage of that and claim to be transgender in order to gain access to the women’s restroom and prey on women and children. Many women bring their children into the restroom, as with gender roles and such, so on the surface, it’s a pretty legitimate concern. Noticed when I used the word “claim”? Well, that’s because there is little statistically significant to no research that supports that fear. I, and probably anyone who watches the news, hear about perverts filming women, children, and even men in restrooms all the time. Many don’t have to step foot inside an occupied restroom to do it. It could seem that the problem to be had isn’t with transgender people; it’s with cis-men. But that’s for another day.

In regards to the pro-transgender position, anti-HB 2, I’ve answered one part of the “why” already—the invalidation and ignoring of the realness of transgender existence implied in HB 2. The other part is the potential threat that comes with using the restrooms based on their sex. A quick Google search on the topic can show that transgender people live with the very real danger of violent and deadly reaction to their presence, especially transgender women. There seems to be special vitriol against a “man dressing/acting like a woman” (not my words or sentiments).

For many, such as ones that can “pass” (to look and behave like a cisgender man or woman without anyone knowing otherwise unless told or without prior knowledge) or those who conditionally pass (able to pass in certain situations or around certain people), HB 2 puts them between a rock and a hard place. If they use the restroom corresponding with their sex while appearing to be the opposite sex, they run the risk of drawing negative reactions. I’ll come out right and say it—if I saw someone who for all intents and purposes presented as a (cis) man using the women’s restroom, I’d be more than uncomfortable. I’d be outright alarmed. Even if I somehow knew the person was trans it would still draw my attention at first glance.

For transgender women, there is a special sort of danger that comes with presenting as a woman, passing, conditionally passing, or not passing at all. They run the risk of extreme violence, including beatings, sexual assault, and even murder. The reasons for that are numerous and are writings for another time; however a common one is the notion that trans women are intentionally “tricking” others for some kind of malicious reason. It’s one aspect of the term “trans panic”, which was at one point an actual legal defense for the attacks and murder of transgender individuals, again, more specifically trans women.

Another argument on this side is of the more logical sense. The women’s restrooms have stalls, as do the men’s. How would one even know if someone with a penis or vagina was using the restroom? What about individuals who were born with both a penis and vagina in varying capacities, who may identify and/or present as a man or woman? Can they use both?

If it seems like I’m taking a side, well, it’s because I kind of am. As a member of a few oppressed groups who has always had liberal leanings, it’s hard for me not to sympathize with possible acts of discrimination. Objectively, though, the more I researched the bill and its potential ramifications while applying my previous and new knowledge of the transgender lives—thinking and rethinking claims and reasoning on both sides—the more I felt that the evidence and reasoning swung on the side of trans individuals. Without a middle ground, I fall on their side.

A good middle ground, I believe, is to have gender-neutral restroom, while not saying that transgender people can’t use the restroom of their gender identity. I think simply having that option could ease some of the tensions and mitigate areas where public opinion and/or prejudice has/will yet to be changed. Like most things, that could also attract conflict, but it would be a better solution than HB 2. And if legislators really care about protecting women and children from male predators, there are other ways to do that without further oppressing an underprivileged group. But that’s just my opinion.

I am by no means an expert on transgender lives, or an expert in matters of civics. My only hope in writing this is that I was able to provide accurate and thoughtful information to help cultivate informed opinions, and/or peak enough interest to want to learn more about these issues.

Are there any thoughts, comments, and/or concerns? Feel free to share!

 

Article written by UCC intern J.M.

Offshore Tax Havens, The Panama Papers, and the Global Economy: So What the 1% Store Their Money in Offshore Accounts?

Terms to know for this article:

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So You ‘re Graduating, Congratulations!! Here Are Some Words Of Advice From Us To You On Your Future Success

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So, students. You’re reading this now and that means we all know what’s coming. It’s already April, and for some of you that means the end of the grueling, long study hours that’s comprised itself of your life for the last few years. No more hustle and bustle around a crowded campus, no more “student” title. With your graduation and degree comes the start of your future. You’ve spent these last few years preparing for what’s to come, and your career is beginning now. You’re finally about to be out of University, taking those starting steps on your own.

….But if you’ve read around, you know that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Last year, only 14 percent of Spring graduates had careers already lined up after college, meaning that 86 percent of those students were struggling for a few months after receiving their degree to get their foot in the door. Read the rest of this entry »

The “New America” Agenda: Are We All Just Victims?

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It might sound hard to believe, but Donald Trump himself might just be a victim of his own campaign.

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Here Are Some Interesting Facts You Might Not Have Known About the Catholic Patron

Saint Patrick’s Day is a day of celebration that originated in Ireland and spread across the world. Celebrated every 17th day of March, Saint Patrick’s Day is a day of feast, honoring one of the most celebrated saints.

Saint Patrick is said to have been born in Roman Britain in the year 387 A.D. In his teens, Patrick was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. When he reached his twenties, Patrick, after receiving what he believed was a celestial vision, escaped from Ireland and eventually returned to his homeland, until he felt called to priesthood.

Saint Patrick was commissioned by Celestine I, the Bishop of Rome during that time, to return to Ireland and convert Irish people to Christianity.

Saint Patrick melted the many hearts of the Irish people with his sincerity and  his faith. Thousands were converted to Christianity during his time. He helped establish many schools, and monasteries, and his incredible legacy inspired  many legends. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Confidence

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image source | theage.com.au

The Importance of Confidence

If you type the phrase ‘lack of confidence’ in the search bar on Thesaurus.com, a multitude of words present themselves. Really. And if you have typed ‘lack of confidence’ into the search engine, you know that there are thirty-eight immediate synonyms. Including the phrase itself, that’s almost forty different ways for someone to say they don’t have or don’t inspire confidence.

The three main definitions of Confidence are as followed: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust; the state of feeling certain about the truth of something; a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Defined further, Confidence is a state of being where it’s certain that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a path or taken action is the best course or most effective. It sounds like a pretty serious thing, doesn’t it? And that’s because it is. Confidence is not just any random state of being or assurance, but one’s own, in relation to others and oneself; and in many ways it’s responsible for a person’s negative or positive state of mind and the amount of success they achieve in their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

A Police Officer Finally Gets Sentenced for His Crime—and the Justice and Legal System Once Again Takes Away the Feeling of Citizenship in America

 

February 11th, a police officer for the NYPD was convicted of manslaughter when a bullet from his gun ricocheted in a stairwell and hit an unarmed, innocent man in a Brooklyn housing project.

In 2014, Officer Peter Liang and his partner Officer Shaun Landau were conducting a “vertical patrol” inside Louis H. Pink Houses project of the East New York neighborhood. As they were performing the patrol, Liang opened a door to an unlit stairwell on the eighth floor. Then Liang, graduated from the Police Academy for only 18 months at this time, discharged his weapon in a state of panic. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Break or Tuition: Are College Kids Prioritizing Spring Break but NOT Tuition?

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There’s just something about Spring that makes people want to dance. It’s been going on for 2,000 years now, ever since the Ancient Greeks held revelries to honor Dionysus, the Greek god of Wine and Fertility. For days, people would dance, sing, dress up, and compete in drinking games. Now, every year between late February and early April college students across the nation take short weeks out their academic schedule to dance, dress up, visit friends and family, and party; not to honor Dionysus, but because, they have a short reprieve from the stresses of college—so why wouldn’t they let loose?

Here’s some statistics: Read the rest of this entry »

Soft Skills: If You Want to Get Hired, You’ll Definitely Need Them, But—Why?

It sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? The phrase, ‘soft skills’. It’s like, “Hey, nice soft skills. I like your soft skills! Wow, great soft skills.” Um…thank you? Actually, though, they really aren’t that weird. The term ‘soft skills’ is defined as “…the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people”.

A little too much?

Let’s look at three different scenarios: Read the rest of this entry »

Hi, My Name is Intern: Internships are More Beneficial to Your Future Career Than You Think

So, you’re in college. Finals are soon and you’re starting to apply for those major companies of choice, because as soon as you graduate you know that you’ll want to throw yourself into your career. You’re excited, and why shouldn’t you be? You’ve stuck with your major for the last four or six years, sitting through grueling classes and climbing up the academic student ladder to your degree. In fact, you’ve currently got an impressive grade point average and even though you won’t be valedictorian for your graduating class, you’ve acquired enough extracurriculars on campus and you may or may not even be part of a fraternity or sorority—you’ve wasted no time in your college experience in order to show your dream companies how willing and able you are, or how much of an asset you can be for them. You’ve got finals and graduation in the bag, and you know it. So, as you’re applying for positions at corporate offices, you’re not thinking there’s only an almost thirty percent chance you’ll be hired.

Wait a second…what? Read the rest of this entry »

Do YOU Think There’s a Lack of Diversity in the Oscars?

Communities take to social media in uproar as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ 2016 Oscar nominees is comprised of an all white cast in the top four major categories for the second consecutive year. The hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, started by writer and activist April Reign January of last year once again hit social media and once again asked the nation a fundamental question: Are the Oscars purposely exclusive when it comes to other ethnic communities? And if so, how are the Oscars and how is Hollywood representing the movie industry by excluding actors who deserve recognition when they aren’t including whole communities?

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School Online: Should You Do It? (Continued): Disadvantages of Online Classes

So we already went over the benefits of taking online classes. Your classes can work around your everyday schedule, you can learn at your own pace with one-on-one instruction, and depending on the degree and the school you choose to enroll your online classes with, it can actually be a lot cheaper to take online courses than attending a traditional four year institution.  But even though there are many upsides to taking online courses, there are some things educators want students to consider.  Read the rest of this entry »

School Online: Should YOU Do It? The Benefits of Taking Classes Online

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photo|Skilledup.com

 

Asking oneself what should be the next step in continuing their education is often a thought that weighs heavily on one’s mind. Determining a person’s career field, type of school, and where that school should be often requires much thought before a person is sure what exactly they want to do, and even then, those goals don’t always remain the same. Eighty percent of students in the United States end up switching their majors at least once, and on average students change their major three times during their college career, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, up to fifty percent of students enroll into college with undecided (also referred as undeclared) majors. So if you’re a graduating senior in high school or about to start your freshman year in college, and you’re a little worried you’ll end up a sitting duck because you either haven’t figured out what you want to do in college, or you’re rethinking the major you signed up for—don’t worry, you aren’t alone ☺.

However, for those of you not comforted in any way by those numbers (and not convinced by our smiley face), and more than a little panicked about the thought of taking your education to a campus away from home, there are other solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

This Day in History: Insight and Reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr.

The lesson I’ve learned experiencing racially diverse environments is that you win some, and you lose some. Read the rest of this entry »

St. Louis Rams

So, if you haven’t heard the news by now, California now has four football teams. California, congratulations. 0-16.

If You Win Tonight’s Powerball of 1.5 Billion, Your Family May Just Plan To Kill You (If They Haven’t Planned To Do So Already)

 

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Powerball lottery tickets sit on a store counter in Manhattan of New York January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Just a heads up: the Powerball numbers from Saturday are 16, 19, 32, 34, and with the Powerball number 13.

No need to thank us, but we kindly accept your sarcastic gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dear Graduates:  Congratulations! You’re graduating from college! After years of grueling homework, brutal semester finals, and complicated thesis papers, you’re about to walk across the graduating stage! You’ve earned this through your hard work and dedication. You’ve kept it together this long; and now is the time to be rewarded for your efforts! Once your […]

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People release balloons to celebrate the new year with Tokyo Tower in the background in Japan early Friday, Jan. 1, 2016

“Oh, Peanuts!” Christmas Past vs Christmas Present

Narrator: Surrounded by his friends, Charlie Brown realized Linus had been right about the true meaning of Christmas. This was the Christmas spirit he had been looking for all along. At last, the season seemed 100 times brighter. And for Charlie Brown, it was truly the merriest Christmas ever.” —A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) (Script), Charles M. Schulz


To many of the era, the Peanuts serialization and A Charlie Brown Christmas are timeless classics. Read the rest of this entry »

“Next Job, Please!” Reasons Why Your Millennial Workforce is Leaving (And How to Attract/Retain It) —Continued

Continued from the previous segment on the Millennial Workforce. Yesterday, we introduced you to a few factors that determine a Millennial’s interest in a work environment or company. Flexible, social, and innovative environments pique the interests of Millennials, but how can you utilize these points in your workplace? Below we explore and define theses factors.    Read the rest of this entry »

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