Have you ever thought about breathing? How strange is it that such a vital and necessary element to human life is something that is hardly ever thought or spoken about? We go through life without stopping to consider how privileged we are, how easily our respiratory system functions; it is second nature. Now, have you ever thought about your rights? How strange is it that such a vital and necessary element to human life is something that is hardly ever thought or spoken about? We go through life without stopping to consider how privileged we are, how easily we yield the ability to purchase guns, to protest, to openly practice the religion of our choosing; this too is second nature. But in today’s America, those rights are being challenged at a rate this country has not witnessed in years. Look around you, turn on your televisions, read the paper and notice: breathing is not as easy as it used to be, is it?
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell 2.0
In the summer of 2017 the Trump Administration began their battle towards instituting their very own Transgender military ban, which went into effect in April of this year. According to a study conducted by UCLA, this newly instituted ban that began with the intention of “cost effectiveness” sent shockwaves through an estimated 2,150 to 15,000 transgender military personnel. Although some currently enlisted Transgender service-members experience grandfather protection, when an old rule applies to certain circumstances despite a new rule, the ban will require all other active military personnel to meet special requirements if they wish to continue serving. The New York Times listed some of these requirements as “using the uniforms, pronouns, and sleeping and bathroom facilities for their biological sex” even while self-identifying as transgender.
As for those who are looking forward to serving their country, the Department of Defense offers up a “clearer” explanation on their website: “Individuals who have undergone either hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria will no longer be able to join the military without a waiver. Secondly, individuals must adhere to the standards associated with their biological sex unless they are diagnosed with gender dysphoria and undergo gender transition.”
Consider this, you are born in a world wherein the fight for acceptance seems never ending; you grow up, take pride in your country, and want nothing more than to honor your family’s long line of tradition by enlisting– but you are told that your medical bills are too high and bring too many complications; your sound of mind cannot be trusted. The U.S. government has made multiple attempts at disguising their bigotry under cloaks of terms like “combat readiness” in an effort to counter criticism. The bottom line is, when our government is instituting laws like this, the message they are sending is very clear: the value of a human life will always come second to the dollar.
Our Bodies, Our Choice
Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi. These are all states that have considered, attempted to pass, or have passed laws that regulate abortion. While none of these “pro-life laws” have been put into effect as of yet, it is important to note the impact these states may have in the ultimate battle of overturning the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Since the recent publicity of Alabama’s current political state, you may have heard the term “Fetal Heartbeat Bill.” This bill states that the only reason a woman is allowed to have an abortion is when the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the impregnated woman. This bill makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
Local community member and Penn State graduate Leticia Nuñez has seen these kinds of bans before and isn’t surprised that they have made a return, “It’s a similar story. These men who don’t know and will never know anything about what it feels like to be a woman are the ones making the laws for women in today’s society. I wish they would stop and seriously consider the effect these bans would have on the women in their personal lives. I mean, really, isn’t that supposed to be one of the first things they think about?”
According to a study conducted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in three American women experience sexual violence in their lifetime. In a world where rape and sexual assault are occurring at such an alarming rate, we need to do better. Yes, human life matters, so please consider the traumatic and fragile state of a woman who just survived an act of sexual assault. Consider her mind, consider her heart, consider her body, and recognize this is not up for your discretion.
How is it that a group of straight white males who are so monumentally out of touch with reality and have experienced nothing but privilege in their entire lifetimes are allowed to make these decisions about my body? About the bodies of American soldiers? About the places that my family legally wants to call home? About the rights that we were once promised when the American Dream was not yet a nightmare? When I envision the future of this world, I see inclusion. I see equality. I see a country wherein the issues of rights regression only exists in history textbooks. I want my children, and my children’s children, to wake up every morning and to never once have to feel the constriction that the weight of oppression creates on one’s airways.
Below, I have linked three organizations that are on the frontlines of the rights regression battle. There are multiple ways to help; click the links and discover how you can help make a difference today.