by Danielle Bergan

I’m sitting at my computer, just home from work at the restaurant, gathering my thoughts as this month of November 2016 comes to an end. Though I am tired right now, this month needs to be written about, needs to be documented. In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip its been.

Ever since the election of our 45th President, Donald Trump, I have been existing in a vortex of shock, anger, compassion, realization, and fear. It reminds me of a turbulent storm that stays with you, either on top of you in fury and rage or allowing you to remain in the calm eye, just long enough to catch your breath.

The one shred of normalcy that I have been clinging to is my sobriety and my gratitude. I made 15 years clean and sober on the 12th, no small feat for this drunk and drug addict like me. My tribe in recovery has allowed me sanity in a sea of insanity; given me strength and courage to stand up to the fear and oppression which encompasses my LGBTQ community across our nation. It has provided a base of normalcy in a world gone mad with white power, hatred of immigrants (especially Muslims), people of color and of course, women. Without it I’d be finished, done, gone never to return. But, I am not!!!

I am grateful for the thousands of strong, men , women and children who are transgender, gay , lesbian or gender non-conformant. We have gained so much in the past 10 years and will fight to keep the rights we have. In the face of virtually every appointment by President-elect Trump is a person with an anti-LBGTQ agenda. They would just see us dead and gone rather than deal with us. But Honey, I can assure you, we will not go quietly into the night!

We are preparing, day by day, to stand up in the face of any oppression this new Administration might throw at us. We will also stand with all the women of the country who face the possible reversal of Roe vs Wade. We hold firm with people of color because Black lives do matter, women’s lives matter, LGBTQ lives matter and immigrants’ lives matter! We will support our Muslim brothers and sisters at every turn, because they are citizens of the U.S. like us, with the same inalienable rights any citizen has. They may try to force them on to a list but liberal bastions of freedom from New York to L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Chicago will be safe havens for all our groups.

Yes God, I am grateful. Grateful to be a nicotine free, clean and sober transgender woman, in her 60s, ready to stand and fight for all I believe that is right and kind and good with this great Nation and this world.

So be on notice President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pense, Treasury Sec Steve Munchkin, Transportation Sec Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVOs, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of Housing and Human Development, Ben Carson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, National Security adviser Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve, Alt right, Bannon and whoever else is named. Together our minorities are a large part of this country and we are already lined up for a fight.

Just wait to all those working folks who voted for Trump to realize they have been had. There will not be full employment for you, there will not be health insurance for you and there will not be lower taxes either. The orange faced guy has gas lighted you.

So, going into this December, I am likely more alive spiritually, and soulfully than I have ever been in my 63 years on the planet. While the horizon to many in this great Nation seems dark and obscure, in a way, perhaps Donald Trump has made America great again. I believe he has awakened the spirit of freedom of oppression that our founding fathers fought for some 250 years ago. Different time but the same scenario. Bring it on Donald! We are ready!

This semester, Binghamton University introduced the LGBTQ Center on campus, providing an educational and social resource for those within the community, as well as their allies. According to Kelly Clark, the LGBTQ Center director, “the purpose is to support LGBTQ students, faculty and staff in their success on campus.”

Besides providing a safe space and relevant programming, the Center is also a resource for those dealing with domestic violence.

It has been found that domestic violence occurs in the same rates in same-sex relationships as it does in straight relationships.

Domestic violence in same-sex relationships seems to stem from the relationship models that are common in U.S. culture.

“I think that part of the reason we see same-sex domestic violence is because the relationships that we know and are aware of tend to be male-female with a dominating male,” Clark said. “Other relationships may tend to mimic that kind of relationship because that is what we know.”

However, the ways that individuals dictate the power and control in their LGBTQ relationship are different than those in a straight relationship. A unique threat present in same-sex relationships is that of being outed by an abusive partner.

“Imagine a young person gets to college and develops a relationship with someone they meet and all of a sudden, in an abusive cycle, the person says, ‘If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to call home and tell your mom that you’re gay and I’m your boyfriend,’” Clark said. “If you have not come out to your family, this would be scary and make you feel forced to stay in the relationship.”

For individuals who are transgender, one partner may withhold hormones from the other, disrupting their routine in order to maintain control. Alternately, if someone identifies as a transgender woman, their partner may withhold their razor to keep them from shaving their facial hair.

“Because of this othering in society, when people are made to feel less than, broken, psychotic — ‘There is something wrong with you,’ ‘We need to pray away the gay’ [or] ‘We need to send you to counseling,’ abusers play into that as well,” Clark said. “They feed into insecurities.”

Although the ways in which a partner is abusive in LGBTQ relationships are different from those in heterosexual relationships, the abuse revolves around the same central theme.

“[It] is still definitely based on power and control,” Clark said. “I always try to tell people love is an action verb, not a feeling. It is a behavior.”

The LGBTQ Center is a safe space for students to disclose information. Clark says the Center is a place of support for any student who wants to come in and discuss what is going on and what support is available for them.

“It is so hard to get up the courage to come in, but the research is pretty clear,” Clark said. “Violence on its own doesn’t get better. It typically gets worse. We know that there is a cycle of abuse, then a make-up period, then abuse again. What we see is that over time it becomes more intense. We are here to support you to help you overcome this.”

The LGBTQ Center on campus is located LS-G549, in the ground floor of Bartle Library. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. For immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

November 13, 2016

Dear Mr. Pence,

Congratulations on your victory. First of all, I believe that you and Trump/Pence supporters think that we are upset because the Democrats lost. True, we are upset that we lost the election, but we are marching in the streets because we are scared of you. We are terrified of people like you and of a government that aligns itself with hate and ignorance.

People like you and Donald Trump have a history of making America think that we will lose our civil rights. This is not about losing our civil rights. It is about losing the lives we have.

I am writing this to tell you that we are not going backwards. We are not starting from scratch.

There was a time in our country when we were rounded up, locked up, falsely arrested for sex crimes, and had to live our lives in shame. Just so you know, we are not doing that again. Those days are long gone.

There was a time in our country when many of us were psychologically tortured by our “Christian” relatives and were told that we were going to burn in hell. We were told that we are sinners and that there was no spiritual place for us in this world. We are not going backwards. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when there were no depictions of LGBT life on television or film. There was a time when we had no cultural role model because simply loving someone of the same sex was considered too provocative. We will not go back to being invisible. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we were sent to therapy and mental health professionals because the shame that society put on us drove us to self-destructive behaviors. Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to damage ourselves because people like you told us that we were already damaged. Some of us tried to take our own lives. People like you made us feel like there was something wrong with us. We will no longer harm ourselves to further empower you. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we saw our friends and loved ones die in our arms because the government was slow to acknowledge a disease that impacted the entire world. Brilliant and beautiful people died in the prime of their lives thanks to denial and prejudice during the AIDS crisis. Some of thought that we were going to automatically die because we were different. Those days are long gone. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when as young men and women, we found ourselves on the streets of this country because our families had thrown us out. Some of us found ourselves without a family at all because they had disowned us. We are not going back to that. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to sit with our families and keep quiet about who we were. This was when people did not fully understand what it was like to be around those who were openly gay. They did not understand that we were equal and not sick. We are not going to educate our families on bigotry and acceptance all over again. We are not going to have an open mind and let them process their feelings about what it means to be bigoted all over again. We already did that. We are not doing it again.

There was a time when we spent our lives with our partner but could not be married. If our partners died, the family would come out of the woodwork and take the money and estate, as they were the next of kin. We were left broke and broken and alone. This will not happen again. We are not going back to a time when we could not be married. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when people felt empowered by their bigotry and hatred of us. They felt this so much that they tied us to fences and crucified us in the middle of the night in open fields and darkened streets and in broad daylight. They bloodied us with violent fists and killed us. We are not going back to a time when people felt protected enough to kill us. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to live in secret because we could lose our jobs and be refused service at businesses for being different. The law did not protect us from being discriminated against. We had to live in secrecy to feed ourselves and our families. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we married members of the opposite sex just so we could fit in and seem normal. We ended up ruining the lives of others by emotionally hurting our spouses and complicating the lives of our children. We are not going back to trying that normalization. We are not doing that again.

Lastly though, I will tell you what we will do. There was a time when those who had been abused, beaten, and weathered rose up. And we marched and protested and fought against the hate that was all around us. That, vice-president elect, we aredoing again. We will do it again and again. We are not starting over. We are moving forward. The world has changed, and we are not going backwards.

We stood up and risked our lives and jobs and safety to earn our seat at the table. And with the help of kind leaders and brave politicians, we got that seat. You are not taking that away. We are already at the table. We are here. We are not coming to dinner. We are already at dinner. Sincerely,

Martin Hyatt,

Author/Professor, NYC

As I pulled the curtain behind me this morning and began to look at my ballot, I took a moment, let my breath out and sat there with a smile on my face. You see, shortly before exiting my car I was listening to NPR on the way to the polls.  They had been putting random comments on the air from various voters.

One woman’s comments hit me quite to the core. She said something like this, “I am so overwhelmed to be voting for who I believe will be the next president of our country, Hillary Clinton, a woman. I thought of my grandmother, who passed in 1997 and in her lifetime women were granted the right to vote in 1920. She would be so happy to know her daughter and her granddaughter voted today. I am blown away on how far we have come.”

At this moment my thoughts drifted to Susan B. Anthony, the leader behind the 19th Century Suffrage movement. With Elizabeth Cady Stanton by her side. Susan became the essence of 19th Century Activist. As I took a moment to day dream of her accomplishments, they are almost beyond belief.

Here are a few:

  • As a Suffragist, she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the work of woman’s suffrage in 1852. Bitterly disappointed that the Republicans left them by the wayside in passing the 15th amendment, in 1866 they founded the American Equal Rights Association. In 1872, Anthony and 3 other women were arrested in Rochester NY for voting in an election. Found guilty, they refused to pay the fines thereby losing any right to appeal. In years to come, Anthony appeared before ever congress from 1869 to 1906 advocating for a woman’s right to vote. In 1877 when she raised 10,000 signatures in 26 states petitioning this right, Congress laughed at her. This never slowed her though from her life’s work.
  • As an Abolitionist, Antony worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Despite public threats and violence, she helped push the movement through arranging meetings and distributing informational leaflets. In 1863, Anthony and Stanton organized the Women’s National Loyal League to help push the 13th amendment to outlaw Slavery. While Afro- Americans gained their freedom and the right to vote in the 15th amendment, women were left behind from that precious right of citizenship.
  • As an Educational Reformer, Anthony pushed for better pay for female teachers and equal educational opportunities regardless of race or gender. In the late 1890s, Anthony raised $50,000 (including putting up the cash value of her own life insurance policy) to hold the University of Rochester to a promise that if she did so, women would be admitted to the university as students. They were in 1900.
  • As a Labor Activist, Susan started her own newspaper in 1868, The Revolution. Its masthead, “Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Here, she constantly advocated for basic rights such as an 8 hour work day, equal pay for equal work, promoting buying American products and the right for women to be able to vote. In the late 1890s, when she was president of the National American Women Suffrage Association, her organization worked to gain the support or organized labor.

Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th amendment was passed guarantying our right as a woman in the United States of America to vote.

On Election Day in Rochester N.Y. hundreds flock to her grave and paste it with, “I voted,” stickers. Today, November 8, 2016, the line is long and the cemetery has promised to stay open late to accommodate the crowds. I am choked with emotion as a woman at this amazing tribute to the driving force which allowed us, as women, to finally get the right to vote.

By tonight we will have elected the first woman president of our country. Personally, I believe we are as divided as a nation since the Civil War. Bigotry, hatred, and violence have been reignited in this campaign as something that is acceptable by society. It is with my sincerest pray and hopes that Hillary Clinton can begin healing the great divide such as Lincoln did some 140 years ago.

In closing, I say a humble, thank you, Susan B. Anthony, for your courage. It is because of women like you that we as a nation look to continue as the bastion of freedom for all who love in this country.

As Election Day approaches, the vote for the governor of North Carolina will be a referendum on the bathroom bill

Incumbent North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory  is in an extremely tight race against Democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper, and it’s all coming down to the issue of the state’s “Bathroom bill.”

In March, McCrory signed House Bill 2, the state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. HB-2 bans transgender citizen from using bathrooms that corresponds with their gender identity, and requires them to use government-run facilities that correspond with their “biological” sex. McCrory’s challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, opposes the bill.

A RealClearPolitics averaged poll from Nov. 1 showed Cooper leading by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent.

“There’s no question this is going to be a very close race at the top of the ticket, and the LGBTQ voting bloc really has the ability to impact the outcome of this election,” said Executive Director Chris Sgro of Equality North Carolina, according to Reuters.

Copper has promised to work to repeal the legislation if he is elected on Nov. 8.

Not only is HB-2 harmful to members of the LGBTQ community, but it has cost the state about $630 million in lost business since it was signed in March, and the bill also lead to the relocation of the NCAA tournament from Greensboro.

“Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections,” Sarah Preston told CNN in March after HB2 was hastily pushed through the general assembly. Preston is acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

McCroy’s side views the bill as banning perverts and sex offenders from claiming that they identify as women to enter women’s restrooms. One campaign ad paid for by the North Carolina Values Coalition bashed Cooper using this rhetoric.

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