Abstinent Opinions

referenced from usnews.com

referenced from usnews.com

In yet more drama in the college sexual assault front, Donald Eastman III, president of Eckerd College released a statement advising students on how to not get raped.  Needless to say, it was unhelpful, especially because it didn’t address the rapists…

Lucky for us (and their entire school), the student newspaper was having none of his bigoted statement.  They issued an incredible respond, which you can read for yourself here.  Part of this changing means the students getting involved.

And believe me, they are.

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Chinese LGBTs

referenced from slapupsidethehead.com

referenced from slapupsidethehead.com

I would like to point out that if you read the title out loud, it kind of rhymes.  I’m pretty proud of that.

I had no idea that electroshock therapy was still a prevalent conversion therapy technique.  Apparently, however, in China it’s still considered a viable method of “curing” homosexuality.  I won’t bother to point out all of the evidence pointing to conversion/reparative therapy being ineffective, and the antiquated nature of viewing homosexuality as a mental illness.  I’ll let you read that for yourself.  The article from alternet.com states that China didn’t decriminalize homosexuality until 1997, and didn’t remove it from lists of mental illnesses until 2001.  The timeline is sort of amazing, but the fact that they are already considering banning reparative therapy is really quite a quick jump.  However, apparently the district court essentially ignored the case.  I would love to see this move forward, but again.  It’s pretty soon for a ruling like that considering they’ve only recently decided that homosexuality is something they’ll “allow.”

Visualize Love

published by Buzzfeed

published by Buzzfeed

I know that on this blog we frequently discuss same-sex marriage and how the current geography of marriage laws is changing.  Right now, there is a lot of gray area and legal disputes, and it can be hard to keep track of what exactly is happening and where.  Buzzfeed created this lovely visual to help you clearly discern what’s happening in each state, and I thought I would share!

Genderless Ideas

I meant to post this on Transgender Day of Remembrance, but missed by one day.  In all fairness, my Thursday was absolutely insane.  I’m making up for it by posting an extra-long blog for y’all today!

Transgender rights has been something that has weighed heavily on my mind lately.  I’m not sure why exactly, but every situation where a trans person would be uncomfortable seems to trigger me.  I think that with all of the developments being made in the arena of gay marriage and gay rights I feel like the basic, simple, everyday rights of transgender people are being forgotten (or at least overshadowed).

So I decided to take a basic internet survey (via posting in several completely non-related groups), regarding transgender bathroom assignment.  To me, this seems relatively straightforward, so I wanted to see how many people agree.  I was also hoping to prompt some interesting conversations for people who haven’t spent any time researching or considering transgender rights.  The survey was fairly simple.  You were asked three questions regarding what bathroom transgender people should use (each question identified a different age group), and you were given three options for answers.  There was then a space for people to express why they had chosen what they had chosen, but this wasn’t required.  I feel that I got responses from people on just about every part of the spectrum, opinion-wise.

The first question was “Do you believe that transgender elementary students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the options of “Yes; they should use the bathroom that matches their gender,” “No; they should use the restroom that matches their biological sex,” or “They should use a single-stall separate restroom.”  Out of 65 responses, 38 chose “yes,” 20 chose “no,” and 7 chose “single-stall.”

The second question was “Do you believe that transgender high school students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same answer options as question one.  I decided to choose two different school settings because of the controversy surrounding younger transgender people transitioning while in school.  I was also interested in the younger vs older comparison because of the arguments surrounding the possibility of sexual assault, if restrooms are used by transgender students.  Again, out of 65 responses, 42 chose “yes,” 11 chose “no,” and 12 chose “single-stall.”

The third question was “Do you believe transgender people should be able to use the public bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same “yes” and “no” options, but the third option was phrased slightly differently for clarity’s sake.  The third option said “They should use single-stall alternate (family) restrooms.”  I knew that there would be a significant amount of adults taking the survey, and considered them more likely to approach the student questions from a mindset of protecting younger people.  I inserted this questions to attempt to force them to investigate their own personal feelings regarding both being in a restroom with a trans person, and forcing someone their own age to use a restroom they may be uncomfortable with.  I had hoped they would put themselves in the trans person’s shoes when asked from this perspective.  Out of the same 65 people, 46 said “yes,” 8 said “no,” and 11 said “single-stall.”

I was a bit shocked that the statistics didn’t significantly change between questions.  Most people picked all of one answer (i.e. 3 yes or 3 no).  There were only a few people who selected different options for different scenarios.  It seemed that people either decidedly were uncomfortable with people using bathrooms based on gender, or they simply weren’t.  The open responses brought all types of responses; the open-minded, the angry, the explicit, the indifferent, and the generally unrelated.  The prompt simply read “Why or why not?”  Responses ranged from “Biological sex is their true gender regardless of what gender they believe themselves.” to “Because that is their gender even if they weren’t born that way.”  There was on response that used the prompt as an opportunity to criticize America’s handling of restrooms in general, saying

“I personally see no problem with both genders, and sex, sharing the same bathrooms. I think that in America going to the bathroom is over sexualized, where people are appalled at the idea of men and women sharing. The main argument I’ve heard against it is that men will attack women in the bathroom, however, if something like that were to happen I think that would have much more to do with the amount of violence in that area. If someone is twisted enough to attack someone in a bathroom then they’re going to do it regardless of if they’re “allowed” to be in that particular stall or not. A bathroom is a bathroom, we all have to use it, so what’s the big deal with keeping everything separated?”

There were slightly humorous takes on the situation, such as “Because everyone has a right to pee in peace.” and there were also very serious observations, such as “they’re just trying to apply to our socially ascribed rules as fits them.”  There was even a response that simply listed “tough questions” at the end of the survey.

Out of everything contained in this, the thing that shocked me the most were people who seemed to believe that the single-stall bathrooms were a way to make everyone comfortable.  I purposefully placed that answer to see if people genuinely believed that this was a fair solution for all involved, and it seems that many do.  The people who chose the single-stall answers left comments like “It doesn’t bother anyone if they use a family bathroom, and it’s probably less awkward for them, not getting stares and what not.”  They argued that “It’s disrespectful to others that aren’t comfortable with the transgender population.”  They even left responses as blatant as “Because I can’t pee if a person with a penis is in the stall next to me.” I’m not kidding.  I was shocked.  I can’t imagine being told, my whole life, that I can’t use the same restrooms as almost everyone else around me.  Wouldn’t that feel, to you, like you were shouting to the whole world “HEY, LOOK AT ME.  I’M TRANSGENDER.” every time you walked into the single-stall handicapped/family restroom?  There are so many transgender people who go to great lengths to conceal the fact that they are transgender that we don’t even have any accurate statistics on how many people transgender people there are.  Asking them to identify themselves in public by using a specifically dictated bathroom is inhumane.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s hard for me to believe that people think that it’s fair in any respect.

There were two remarks that expressed concern for the safety of the transgender person themselves, saying “I don’t think our society is ready to responsibly and humanely integrate transgender students/adult in a public restroom setting.” I think that this is a valid concern, especially right now.  As this survey clearly indicates, there are a lot of people who are still incredibly uncomfortable with even the idea of a transgender person, forget an actual human being.  That being said, there are many hard-fought wars over basic human rights that have happened within even the past 100 years.  Most of them have resulted in some bloodshed.  I know plenty of transgender people who are willing to fight, and fight hard, for rights as basic as using a public restroom.  There are plenty of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ Allies that will join in that fight (and already have) and shed blood right alongside them.

I don’t think that this survey itself will change the world.  I don’t even know how many people will make it to the end of this post.  What I do know, is that this has opened my eyes to the discrimination coming from all around me, to people who have done nothing to deserve it.  I hope that I’m not the only one it impacts, but if I am?  I’ve certainly taken on a new respect for what’s happening around me.  And with that, I’ve taken on a new fight.

One Foot in and One Foot Out

by Tom Toles

by Tom Toles

Kansas is still fighting its losing battle against the allowance of gay marriages.  Really, they’re trying very hard to prevent it.  However, this week some counties finally began to issue marriage licenses this past week.  There are still many legal battles and confusion floating around, but apparently some places have had enough waiting.  What makes this battle interesting is that while some places are already issuing licenses, most places aren’t allowing legal name-changes, driver’s license updates, and other typical after-marriage chores.  Obviously, this is receiving a lot of interest and generating newly inflamed outrage.  If the marriages are being recognized, what is stopping the name changes?  How can these places pretend to support gay marriage if they only allow certain parts.  That is inequality just as much as banning gay marriage completely is.  All of this inconsistency seems to be aimed at driving this case directly back to the Supreme Court.  Frankly, at this point, the Supreme Court taking over and issuing an all-inclusive ruling would probably be the simplest solution.

From the Mouths of Babes

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

Okay, so maybe college students aren’t exactly babies anymore.  Some of them do have legitimate political opinions, formulated through personal research and attention to current events.  But, as I’m about to display, many of them have little to no idea what’s happening in the real world.  I took a poll of students at Texas A&M University, via several large (widely used) groups online.  Each of these groups requires a Texas A&M certified email to be a member, so it ensured that I would be polling only students.  Texas A&M is considered to be a relatively conservative university, with its agriculture roots and heavy military presence attracting many students from small-town Texas.  Naturally, I thought producing a survey regarding opinions and education surrounding same-sex marriage based here would produce some interesting results.  There were lots of conflicting responses.  The first question was “The Supreme Court recently turned down petitions halting same-sex marriage. This means that (at least temporarily), same-sex marriage is legal in at least five more states, paving the way for countless others to legalize same-sex marriage. What are your feelings about this?”  Out of exactly 100 responses, 61% reported favorable responses such as “It’s about time!”  There were 26% who reported negative feelings such as shock, feeling offended, and being unhappy to hear the report.  The other 13% said they had been keeping up with the news and already knew about the development.

The next question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court is indirectly supporting same-sex marriage through this decision?”  Students reported 65% belief that SCOTUS was supporting same-sex marriage, 22% belief this didn’t show support, and 13% confusion/no opinion about the topic.

The next question got a wide range of responses, as it was open ended.  I asked “Do you know how many states currently allow same-sex marriage?” with simply a blank below the question for them to fill in.  I arranged their answers in groupings of ten for ease of reporting.  49% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t care to guess.  There were 21% of guesses between one and ten states, with the most common guess being five states.  Frankly, I found this to be a bit shocking.  I know that this is a commonly changing number, especially right now, but by 2010 the number was far greater than 10.  There were 11 guesses between 11-20, and 17 guesses between 21 and 30.  All things considered, I wouldn’t say this is very far off of what I expected.

The next two questions had remarkably similar results, though I don’t consider them to be overly related.  The fourth question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court will eventually have to step in for same-sex marriage to be allowed in all 50 states?”  This is something I myself have spent quite a bit of time pondering, so it formed the basis for an interesting set of statistics.  The overwhelming answer was “yes,” with 71% of the vote.  There was a 24% vote for no, and a 5% vote for “I don’t know,” which I suppose is essentially a lack of vote.  The final question, which I wanted as a base to compare to the rest of the questions, was simply “Do you personally believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized?”  I say it’s simple, but for a lot of people I suppose it isn’t.  It got 68% of votes for “yes,” 16% of the votes for “no,” and 16% for “I don’t know.”

Now, why is this information at all significant.  It’s a sample of a sample.  My opinion is that these statistics are a representation of what’s happening next.  Texas A&M is full of college students, learning and creating their own identities that they will still have when they vote in the future.  Texas A&M is also full of people with religious and conservative backgrounds, in an incredibly conservative state.  If even a majority of the students here believe that same-sex marriage is on its way to be legalized (and agree that it should be), that’s worth noticing.

Oh Kansas…

by Steve Benson

by Steve Benson

Yet again, Kansas has gotten within arm’s reach of issuing same-sex marriage licenses but then been blocked.  This time, a U.S. Justice by the name of Sonia Sotomayor issued a very last-minute stay (literally hours before licenses were set to begin being issued).  She is essentially clearing the way for gay marriage advocates to reply to the ban officially.  As far as I’m concerned, the Supreme Court has made it clear that bans on same-sex marriage won’t be tolerated.  Now we’re just dragging our feet.