Why You Need to Vote in Your State's Primary Election

Why You Need to Vote in Your State's Primary Election

The election before the election, and why it's important.
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If you’re mildly interested in politics, or have passed an eighth grade civics class, you know the basics of how an election works. Candidates announce that they are running for office, people vote in the primaries to get a nominee from each of the two major political parties, and then the real election takes place. The general public comes out to vote, everyone watches the major news network of their choosing, and news anchors eagerly await the opportunity to be the first to announce who the new President of the United States is. Election Day is the culmination of years of campaigning on each presidential hopeful’s part and months of Facebook ranting on your racist uncle’s part. Everyone gets so involved in the general election that it seems like it’s the only thing that matters.

Except that the general election is the very end of the road. There are plenty of steps along the way. The most important of these steps is the Presidential Primary election. In the primaries, for those who don’t know, each candidate that is competing for their respective party’s nomination is on the ballot. As of the time of this writing, there are five major candidates from the Democratic Party- the most prominent two being Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Republican Party has 17 candidates listed on major polls, with Donald Trump currently leading the polls ahead of candidates such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. With so many different candidates running from so many different regions of the United States, no two candidates have the same view on every topic. Only one Democrat and one Republican can be selected, though. This is where the primary elections are crucial.

Many states, including New Jersey, require that a voter declare their party before voting in a primary election in order to prevent Republicans voting for weak Democratic candidates and vice-versa. This is a good thing. You should be voting for a candidate you can get behind, because that candidate might just be the next President of the United States. Voting in the primary election that your state holds is important, especially given the number of candidates running from each side. Think Bernie Sanders is the best hope this country has for getting back on track? If you’re a liberal college student who thinks that his plan to make college free is pretty nifty, or if you think he should be getting more attention for taking the time to reach out to #BlackLivesMatter activists to work on his reform policies, then you’d better get out to the voting booth and vote that way. Sanders can’t become President without getting the Democratic nomination, and he’s against the former Secretary of State and Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton. Are you a Republican who thinks that the nonsense that Donald Trump wants to make into public policy will ruin the United States? Think his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it is ridiculous? Go out and vote for another candidate in the primaries, because he’s in the lead.

One of the most common complaints about the election season is that voters feel like they are forced to decide between the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. The primaries are a way to make sure that everyone can cast their vote to let the parties know, well, who they want to cast their vote for. If you’re not sure which candidate you should vote for, that’s OK! There are websites like www.isidewith.com that will let you take a questionnaire and match you with the candidates you most strongly agree with and allow you to compare your views with theirs. Not sure when your state holds its presidential primary? You’re in luck, because there are places like www.mytimetovote.com that can tell you just that. So what are you waiting for? Study up on what candidates resonate with you, and make sure you vote in the election before the election!

Cover Image Credit: http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-voting-booth-thousands-march-protect-vote-1323789223

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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.
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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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I'm 20 Years Old, So Please Stop Treating Me Like I'm Still 16

Just because I am younger, does not give you the right to treat me like a child.

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I have always dealt with people who were older than me -- that is just the way it was in my family. My brothers are significantly older than I am, meaning that I was always thrown around with the older kids when I was younger. I am incredibly respectful, not only to others my age but to those who are older than me. Yet, I have noticed since being home that more and more people are not quite acknowledging young adults ages and treating them younger than what they are. I had the first-hand experience towards this the other day.

I went to my local post office to start the application process for getting my passport -- which I have never done before. Before, heading there I tried to make sure that I had all of my information and paperwork that I needed with me. When I got to the post office, I walked to the main counter and quietly awaited my turn to inform them that I was there for my 2 o'clock appointment. I was then turned to another counter where there was an elderly gentleman helping a family of four with their passports. As I was quietly waiting for them to be finished and for it to be my turn, I heard the elderly gentlemen say "step behind the yellow line," to which I did not understand that he was talking to me. I was in earshot of what the family was saying, however, I was definitely not paying any attention to what they were doing nor was listening into the gentleman giving them the speel about passport information. After a few more minutes, it was finally my turn to go up. The elderly gentleman then decided that everything I had been told I need was wrong and went on to tell me what I apparently "actually" needed -- which I checked and I was actually correct in everything that I brought. He then proceeded to give me more information and asked me how old I was when there was a mention of a check and I had stated that I would need to have my parents write one -- because who has checkbooks anymore at my age? After being declined and told that I had to come back with the right information, I could not help but wonder why my age had anything to do with my ability to be able to get a check or as to getting my passport by myself as a whole. Up until I told him my age, he treated me like I was 16-years-old and as though I was a lost pup.

I have started to notice more recently that there are some people who think that just because I am younger than they are, that they then have the right to treat me as though I am a child, incapable of doing certain things or just thinking that they know more than I do. Which is completely absurd in my opinion. I am almost 21-years-old. I am over 18-years-old, which means that I am legally allowed to vote -- SIDE NOTE: PLEASE VOTE --and to do many other things since I am no longer what society calls a teenager. But if society is no longer calling me a teenager, then why does society also feel the need to treat me as such and try to make points that my opinion of that some of my actions do not matter? Why am I incapable of trying to be an adult and do adult things, but then being crucified3 for being above my playing field?

Now I believe that this man thought that I was way younger than what I am because I do have a baby face, but he had the audacity to treat me like I was a hooligan who was up to no good -- when I was literally just there to get a passport. Not going to lie, that may have been one of the most adult things I have had to do, but it was already nerve-racking for me before I went in there and for him to downgrade my age made me feel as though I was nothing more than a wannabe adult. I am currently about to live on my own with three roommates in an apartment and I am paying for a ton of things already out of my pocket at a youngish age. I am curious to see if once I do turn 21 if will more adults finally consider me as being an adult or if I will need to wait another eight or nine years for them to consider me an adult.

While all of this sounds like I am trying to validate my age, my main point is that I should NOT have to validate the fact that I am legally considered an independent. Although I am not sure how to do one task does not make my age a factor of the situation and just because you believe that someone is older or younger than you, does not give you the right to dismiss them as a whole and not allow them to do what they came to do. This is 2018, I should not feel discriminated against because I am younger than a man at the post office and I have no idea what I am doing. It is not okay because you do not know what they are going through. If it had been a younger customer then they could have been emancipated at a young age. Everyone has their own backstory and you cannot label them just because of something as simple as age, skin color, gender or whatever they look like as a whole.

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