The Only U.S. President That Spoke Mandarin Chinese

The Only U.S. President That Spoke Mandarin Chinese

Here's something you probably didn't know about our 31st President of the United States.

Being bilingual nowadays always seem like a huge surprise. English has become such a common language in America that it has become unnecessary to know any other language. But I am not saying a person shouldn't learn a second or third language. Being able to communicate to others without having the language barrier is undoubtedly a useful skill.

So my mind started wondering earlier today -- has there ever been a bilingual president?

Obviously after 43 presidents, there's bound to be one that spoke another language other than English. And of course I had to search it up, which I did, and found out there were plenty of presidents in the beginning that spoke another language like Latin or Greek.

That wasn't surprising at all. It continued to not be a shocker when I read there were other presidents that spoke French, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Italian. Basically all these past presidents knew European languages. What was surprising to learn was that there was one president that knew Mandarin.

Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, lived in Tianjin, China for two years with his wife, Lou Hoover after graduating Stanford with a degree in Geology. He worked as a mining engineering and executive during those years. According to the Hoover Association, the two adapted to the language there and would sometimes speak in Mandarin when they didn't want people to know what they were talking about.

The Hoovers even caught themselves in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion during their time in China in 1900. The couple was sent to a walled compound for protection from those who were rebelling against Western influence in China and persecuting Chinese Christians. The Boxer Rebellion finally came to an end a year later in September of 1901.

There are a lot of things that come to mind when I think of President Hoover, like Hooverville and the Great Depression, but after learning he was one of the few U.S. Presidents that knew a non-European language and the only President that knew Mandarin, there's something else to remember him by.

And if you're wondering whether or not our current U.S. President knows any other language, the short answer is yes. Yes, he does. He speaks Bahasa Indonesian from when he attended school in Indonesia as a child.

Cover Image Credit: History Channel

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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Don't Let People Tell You Your College Choice Was Wrong

And don't let them freak you out about jobs, either. We do that enough ourselves.


Once you get into high school, your interactions with people become centered around a very limited list of topics for the most part. The two things that top the list are school and work. It makes sense to an extent because those are the things that take up most of your time. Once you get later into your high school years, people start asking you where you plan on going to college. It's a harmless question and a good way to make small talk. So you tell them. This part of the conversation usually doesn't have too many problems. Then they'll ask, "Do you know what you're going for?" and that's where all of the issues start to arise.

Take it from someone who has already been through it: there is no right answer to this question. Everyone, for some reason, always has to come up with a negative thing to say, or at the very least they'll come up with a somewhat back-handed compliment. Depending on what you do plan to go for, people will for some reason feel inclined to tell you many things about fields of study they know nothing about. Those comments range from, "It's going to be tough to find work in that field, you know," to, "That's not going to make you a lot of money," and, "You'll have to go back and get some other degree because that one alone won't get you anywhere."

As someone who majored in psychology for my bachelor's degree, I've heard all of these things and more. Then when I reassure people that I'm going back for a master's degree (not that it's any of their business), they'll say, "Oh good! What are you getting your master's in?" and the whole cycle starts again. (In case you're curious, I'm planning on getting my degree in Social Welfare/Social Work.)

Eventually, you do graduate. And the simple truth is whatever happens next, you're going to be fine. Maybe you end up getting an awesome job in your field, or maybe you end up in a career that you hadn't even thought about when you were in college but it's one that suits you. Or maybe it's neither and you work a few placeholder jobs until the right one comes along. No matter what, though, there's no wrong way to get through post-grad life either, even when people try to make you feel otherwise. Everyone will ask you questions as though you are somehow going to land yourself in your life-long, take me to retirement, job three months out of college. Most of us know that that's not realistic.

There's a lot of pressure on you from your late teens into your twenties. Everyone is going to talk to you like you're supposed to have your future totally planned out. It's easy for me to say don't let them bother you, but the reality of it is that it's extremely bothersome. It puts more unnecessary pressure on you as though you don't already put enough pressure on yourself. But at the end of the day, you know what's right for you, and they don't. Your college degree and your career choices are your choices alone and no one can take those away from you. It's easy to let people make you doubt those choices but for the sake of your own sanity try not to let them.

The world can seem like a big and scary place on its own without the people in your life adding to it. But the thing to remember when life and school and jobs and people all seem too confusing to handle is that you're going to be okay. No matter what you're going to figure everything out. You might switch majors or go back for a different degree or find out that the degree you got opened odd doors that you hadn't thought of. Or maybe completely unrelated doors will just pop up altogether. But whatever the case may be, it's all going to work out. People will always have their opinions and beliefs on how you should live your life but the only beliefs that matter on that front are yours.

When it comes to college experiences and career choices, there isn't a one-size-fits-all right and wrong. There is only right for you and wrong for you.

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