Bathroom Bills Aren't About Bathrooms

Bathroom Bills Aren't About Bathrooms

They're about closed-mindedness and fear.

Transgender people have received a lot of attention lately due to bathroom bills in North Carolina, which legally ban trans people from using restrooms that do not match the sex on their birth certificate. Legislators in North Carolina, and the eight other states that have bathroom bills, maintain that the purpose of such laws is public safety. In this case, "public safety" does not actually include trans people, who face extreme levels of harassment and violence when forced to use bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth. Instead, the laws portray trans folks as a threat to society, indistinguishable from pedophiles and perverts. Despite no evidence of men donning dresses in order to harass or assault women in female restrooms in places with nondiscrimination laws, Sen.Ted Cruz declared that allowing trans people to use a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity "opens the door to predators." He continued, "Men should not be going to the bathroom with little girls.”

Although President Obama stated he believes that the laws that have been passed in North Carolina and other states "are wrong and should be overturned," and many other people and organizations have denounced the discriminatory bills, much of the damage has already been done -- and not only to trans folks. Because of the bills, countless cisgender women, being mistaken for being trans, have been harassed and chased out of restrooms for simply not looking female enough. Trans people who do decide to follow the laws face harassment, whether they pass as cisgender or not.

In all of this, it is clear that bathroom bills are not about bathrooms -- they are about closed-mindedness and fear. Anti-trans bathroom bills reinforce a gender binary that says women should present one way and men should present another. The laws leave no room for any blurring of those lines, and see those who challenge the binary to be a threat. The reality, though, is that trans people are not a threat to safety or health. The actual threat to the supposed American values of equality and progress is the fact that many people, like Senator Cruz, still refuse to see trans women as women, and trans men as men. This invalidation of identity, and discrimination on account of it is part of the reason that nearly half of trans people have attempted suicide. The life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35, and 11 trans people have been reported to be murdered in the U.S. in 2016 alone. With numbers as staggering as these, it should seem obvious that trans people are much more in need of protection from violence than women and children in bathrooms.

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A New Refugee Crisis Is Brewing, And It Will Start In South Africa

White South African farmers are to be forced off their land by the government.

A lot has been going on in South Africa recently. You may not have heard of any of it though, as the countries issues are apparently not much of a concern for American media. What I am talking about is the planned, legal, massive expropriation of farmlands owned by white South Africans.

The action has been officially sanctioned by South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa. The reasoning for the action lies in the history of the nation itself. White settlers first arrived in the southernmost country in Africa in the 1650’s. After achieving freedom from Britain and official nationhood, a Jim Crow-esque system of racial inequality was established to ensure white-minority dominance over the region. Apartheid, as it was called, ended in 1994 and a black-majority rule was established under the African National Congress party. As such, most of the productive farmland still lay in the hands of old white South African families.

The new president intends to rectify this in a reckless move. All white farmland is slated to be taken by the state and redistributed to black families. This will most likely devastate the country’s economy and severely hurt their chances of staving off the wide-scale droughts that are on their way. One only needs to look to Zimbabwe for proof of these undesirable outcomes. That country’s government tried the same policies against their white farmers years ago. After failed crops, poor management, and major losses for the economy the new government their recently invited all former white farmers to return to their homes. I don’t understand how South Africa cannot learn from Zimbabwe’s mistake.

I understand the reasoning behind it. Centuries under a colonial yoke would make anyone hate their former oppressors. That is the key word, however, former. The current white population of South Africa was born into a system, just like every other human. They live their lives out objectively within that system. Violence does not recompense violence, and the move will surely lead to violence. Ever since the end of apartheid black-on-white violence has steadily increased anyway, with many attacks occurring on farms. Some estimates now put the toll at more than one white South African murdered per week.

If this plan is followed through with, the world will be faced with yet another massive refugee crisis. Tens of thousands will be displaced, and many thousands more will most likely seek refugee status to escape from the prejudice and hatred that they now face in their own country. Thankfully, Australia has a plan in the works to implement a fast-track visa program for displaced South Africans.

Regardless of race, religion, history, whatever, all people deserve to have the rights to pursue happiness and live in peace. This situation is no different.

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Why I Support Walkouts for Gun Control

Our lives are more important.

On Thursday March 15, students from high schools and colleges nationwide arranged a walkout in protest of the lack of stricter gun regulations. I participated in at my school because I believe that we need to enact more stringent gun regulations because our current policies are failing. There should not be this many mass shootings, and children should not be dying from gun violence. In the United States, we have had more mass shooters than any other country. Thoughts and prayers for the victims are not going to make that number go down; policy changes will. I support students walking out of their classrooms because they realize that their lives and their education are more important than someone’s second amendment rights.

Whenever the gun control debate comes up after a mass shooting, we are always told not to get political and that we should only offer thoughts and prayers as a sign of respect for the victims. No, policy changes that make it harder for anyone to obtain a gun in the United States is the ultimate sign of respect for the victims. Policy changes show that we respect the victims enough that we do not want to create more. I think the most tragic shootings are the ones that happen at schools such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas because these children were at school to get an education and their lives were cut short. We have our priorities backward because we should value a child’s education and life above the ability to easily get a gun. Arming teachers is not the solution because it only creates an environment where students feel unsafe and the teachers may not be able to handle the responsibility of carrying a gun. When your second amendment rights start to interfere with an individual’s right to life we must do something.

Gun control needs to happen, and gun control measures have been useful in countries such as Japan and Australia. Additionally, we need to start changing our mindset about what it means to be an American citizen and what it means to be a man in American society. In our country, guns are tied to being a proud American. However, this cultural mindset has become toxic because we ignore those who lost their lives in mass shootings. We need to stop equating caring about the lives of others with being a bad American. You are an evil American if you choose to ignore how exercising the second amendment affects other people. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1789, and our world has changed drastically since then. Since our world has changed drastically, we need to start viewing owning a gun as a privilege, not a right because we have normalized gun violence for too long.

I am glad to see students walk out of their classrooms and stand up not only for their rights but also stand up for what they believe. To those administrators who attempted to prevent students from doing so, shame on you because your students have the right to peaceful protest. Do not stop them from doing so because you disagree with their political beliefs, instead encourage them to protest because they need to be able to advocate for themselves throughout their lives.

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