The lack of civil protections in other nations has, on occasion, seen Transgender individuals crossing the boarder asking for asylum from persecution, violence and administrative policies that leave them vulnerable to social alienation, targets of abuse and stripped of human rights. While it is not something we see every day, it does happen, and in a joint partnership with the United Nations, we have an obligation to protect citizens whose own countries have put them in grave danger, effectively preventing them from enjoying the same quality of life as their cisgender counterparts.
Currently, a Transgender woman, know only by the name Alejandra, is being unjustly detained in Cibola County Correctional Center, a prison facility in Mexico, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) awaiting a hearing to determine her eligibility for asylum status in the United States. She has been incarcerated since last year. Amnesty International, the agency campaigning for her release said that Alejandra’s case is “especially urgent in light of the recent death of another transgender woman in ICE custody who was briefly held in the same unit.”
Alejandra, a resident of El Salvador, had been an outspoken trans activist, educator and national speaker who found herself the subject of intense sexual harassment by military agencies, brutally attacked by gang members, and offered no assistance from local authorities. Had she not fled her home country, she would most certainly be murdered for promoting transgender visibility and advocating for equality.
Shockingly, since Alejandra was detained last year, she has been denied access to basic medical treatments, including disruption of her transitional medications which has sent her plummeting into a deep depression. She has not received therapy to deal with the emotional aftermath of her sexual abuse and the traumatic experiences imposed on her by the military- who sought her out for deliberate retaliation due to her transgender status and high profile.
As this story was just coming to national attention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a terrifying shift in the United States asylum policy regarding victims of hate-based gang violence and domestic abuse. Sessions wrote in 31-page decision. “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”
This means that LGBT individuals who are targeted simply for their gender or sexuality will no longer qualify for asylum in the United States. In countries like El Salvador, where gang activity is often the right hand of high ranking officials in the military, LGBT people will be left at their mercy. We have seen the devastating consequences of this unfold in Chechnya, where their own government advocated their imprisonment in concentration camps and even campaigned for families of gay men to kill them without consequence in what is known formally as a “Anti-Gay Purge.”
With America determined to turn its backs on it’s own transgender citizens by rolling back protections and banning the word “Transgender” or “Vulnerable” from any missives between the CDC and the White House as well as American President, Donald Trump, determined to eradicate Transgender military service men and women, America may not be the safe house it once was. This leaves other countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy and other more progressive countries as their only hope for safety.
There were times I felt like I needed to hit the “Reset” button.
You know, just like in that game you’re playing on XBOX or Nintendo. There’s that level you can’t get past- that part where things went terribly wrong and it seems impossible to go forward. You need a do-over, another chance, a fresh start.
The thoughts would come on impulse. Sometimes, driving over a tall bridge. It would be so easy, in this moment, right now. I can see it happening in my head, a morbid speculation of deliberately flying off that edge into a black abyss, into oncoming traffic with just a jerk of one arm or aiming at that massive tree. This is where I check out. It’s that easy. This is my exit.
I never did it, obviously. Whether it was a fleeting madness or simple cowardice, I didn’t do it. Do you know what people would think of me if they ever knew that these were, sometimes, the secret thoughts I kept under the facade of a smile? I tell myself “Somehow, keep sparkling in this darkness like there’s light anyway.”
The temptation that presents itself so readily in any number of scenarios isn’t foreign to me. It doesn’t happen every day or even every month, but the fact that I’ve had them at all left me feeling like a fraud. People, even strangers I barely knew believed I had it together. I was smart, motivated, I had measurable success, I knew how to navigate the rough terrain of social situations without anyone realizing I was screaming on the inside. If anyone ever knew my shame, I would never again be entitled to my own pride. I also knew there would be those who would revel in my perceived failure.
In my town, there were adults in my own community who had a seat in the rafters during the show that was my peripheral life. They didn’t know me, but they told people they did. I was arrogant, pompous, strutted around like someone who expected others to lay wreaths at my feet. My emotional distance may have lent itself to that narrative. I have, since my teenage years, kept my walls high and my circle small. Many knew of me. Few- very few, knew me. There was Phaylen the character who presented herself with the confidence I only wish I really had… then there was the reality I lived with behind closed doors.
And then there was the girl who missed out on so much. The girl abandoned by her family due to a mental illness. A girl who lived in a retirement village with 80 year old friends until she was 30. A girl who lost her childhood and adolescence due to agoraphobia. She lived in very controlled environments, situations, and didn’t quite know how to function in the greater world beyond the fragile, iridescent bubble that protected her. She was afraid of all that lay beyond that place where certainly, people like her- like me- didn’t have a place. So many years were gone. So much potential was lost. So many windows of opportunity had closed. I envied people in my teens and twenties as they floated through life, getting married, having families, holiday dinners with loved ones, selfies with friends at fancy restaurants. Then, there was me. I’d inadvertently taken a wrong turn. I was inexplicably different from “Normal.” I didn’t love myself, and was unloved by others. I remember thinking “I can’t wait to start again.” I would do better. I would be better. I’d break down those walls, the prison of my own mind and reclaim my control. My life would possess some value, some purpose in moving forward. I knew what to do now.
Reset because it hurts. Mistakes I made that gnawed at me like an angry beast from the inside. Regret… My first love, a girl named Amy, I bet she’s happy now. I wonder if I look happy enough to convince her I am too if she ever cared enough to be curious and look me up.
Sometimes trying isn’t enough. I resented people who made it look effortless. I wasn’t equipped with those facilities to walk through life without resistance. I was transgender before I knew the word; All I knew was that it rendered me lesser… and for anyone to like me, I had to try twice as hard to keep it that way because I felt I didn’t deserve that. Anyone kind to me was doing me a favor because, after all, I was the social reject that most would easily dispose of. It manifested in many ways, a repeated pattern of individuals who would walk into my life, take what I had, exploit my eagerness to please and when I had no more to give… disappear.
There was that bottle of pills. They calmed me down. They quieted the world around me, and one time I searched how quickly I would die if I just took them all. Would there be pain? I was scared of pain. I didn’t want to suffer. Just slip away, quietly…
…Like I was never here. No one would miss me. Shit, no one would find me until the smell of my corpse began to infuriate my neighbors.
I thought I could do better next time. Like a bad hand in poker, I wanted to fold and hope the next deal would be better. You tell people that, though, they call you selfish. They scoff at you. They tell you how great you have it. You could be some starving child in a third world country, or a homeless elderly veteran sleeping under a bridge at night. There were people who have it worse than I do. I’m not entitled to feel like this. And then I hate myself.
So, you stay quiet. You fight those demons under the cloak of darkness where no one else can see. You cancel projects, you cancel plans, you withdraw and have a million excuses and you simply say “I’m sorry for myself. For who I am.”
You get tired of being strong. You start growing numb. The world can make you mean. It’s moving at the speed of light and you’re trying to keep up. But, someone jumps in your lane to break your heart; A friend, one of the few you confided your weakness in, tells you “Everything everyone said about you is true.” And, although, you know no one ever knew you well enough to assess any truths about you because they aren’t there when the lights go down, the silence sets in. When regrets, insecurities, fears and anxiety grabs hold you find it aches all over. You wish there was some medicine to hold it all at bay; You’re always alone, anyway. So much easier when you don’t have to explain.
I was 11 when I tried to hang myself from the folding closet door of my bedroom. I was the victim of bullying. Not the kind you read about today where everybody insulted bellows about being bullied. I was beaten. I was sexually attacked. Called names I didn’t understand. “Faggot,” “Homo,” “Pervert” asked if I was wearing girls underwear. Other parents wouldn’t let their children play with me because I was a “Freak.” My crime? I was a boy who looked inexplicably like a girl. I acted like a girl. From my lisp, to my limp wristed gestures, to my soft, meek demeanor. I wasn’t what a boy should be. I was broken. I was an embarrassment to my Mother. Every single day, I endured violence at my inner city school, for years… until my middle school principal called my mother into the office after I’d been sprayed with mace and told “We can no longer guarantee his safety.”
From then on, I was home schooled, and my isolation became my best friend. I closed off the world. I didn’t leave my house for 5 years. Everything I learned, I taught myself, as my mother was sick and bedridden most of the time… but I’d seen her cry because of me. “Why can’t you just be normal?” She once pleaded. I saw the tears welling in her eyes. “I love you, but the world is going to destroy you. I want to love you so much, but you make it so hard.”
I remember that day like it was yesterday, as I sat perched at the side of her bed. Her eyes were bloodshot. She had a crossword puzzle book sitting in her lap half finished. She took my hand, her voice cracked; “I’m so scared for you.”
“This isn’t who I want to be.” I thought, over and over, again and again. “This isn’t what I’m supposed to be.”
“I don’t belong here.”
And that thread carried on for decades.
The truth is, I didn’t want to die. But, what if this game called life didn’t just start over? What if, on the instance of my last breath, I didn’t come screaming back into the world with a clean slate and a new hope. I didn’t want for anything more than to be okay.
Suicide convinces you that it’s the best alternative to fighting through another day; Taking another pill; Drinking another drink. Just admit defeat and hope… hope that it’s not an end, but a reset.
Today, I’m still not where I imagined I would be, or where I expected I should be… but I’m here. And while I’m not by some magical means cured of slipping back into that dark place with my menagerie of pains, empathy, my dread and hopelessness in humanity, the world and its barrage of tragedy that sinks into my soul like venom… I’m still here for the experience. Truth be told, I’m grateful that the sheets I hung from that closet door when I was 11 years old broke and sent me careening to the ground. The universe said “No.”
This is not your exit.
And so, in spite of it all. In spite of people, in spite of circumstances, two decades later, that’s what I do.
I keep going.
We don’t talk about suicide. We don’t want others to know that we’re breakable, that we’re human. Mental illness is a wrapped with stigma that no one ever addresses. It’s too uncomfortable, perhaps, to let the lights come up and to face the monster revealed to so many of us, but therein also we are shown this reality: We are not alone.
The stigma around mental illness is so thick and the scrutiny- even ridicule- so ruthless that no one will be likely step forward and say “I wish to kill myself today. Maybe it won’t be today. Maybe next week. Take everything from me and lock me up.”
Mental illness sufferers have been taught we are a burden already, that our contribution to the world is irrelevant, that we have no purpose, that our own tomorrow has nothing waiting. That is the lie that mental illness would have us believe. As people, we’re not going to accept being further shamed in front of nurses and doctors or people in group therapy. We’re not particularly eager to invite hospitalization and medications most of us cannot afford. We understand that should we be exposed we would be here unto forever known as the person people/potential friends are warned away from for being a drama queen, an attention seeker. A bad person looking to blame all their misgivings or shortcomings on being sick.
I know sufferers who The stigma around mental illness is so thick and the scrutiny- even ridicule- so ruthless that no one will be like “Why yes, Diane. I wish to kill myself, take everything from me and lock me up.”
Mental illness sufferers believe they are a burden already, that their contribution to the world is irrelevant, that they have no purpose, that their own tomorrow has nothing waiting. It is the lie that mental illness convinces them. They’re not going to accept being further shamed in front of doctors or people in group therapy or invite hospitalization and medications they cannot afford or be here unto forever known as the person people/potential friends are warned away from for being a drama queen, an attention seeker. A bad person looking to blame all their misgivings or shortcomings on being sick.
And I know personally those that have mentioned it to others, reaching out for for a thread of hope, were met with this: “If you were suicidal you would have done it by now.” or “Real suicidal people don’t ask for help or tell anyone.”
If we want to genuinely help stop suicide, we must stop contributing to that stigma and creating a further divide between access to help and the victim requiring it.
I saw an article that said we’re in a suicide crisis. I tilted my head cock-eyed and winced. Where have they been? As a trans survivor who broke free of the chains the world shackled me in as they taught me to hate myself, I see others who didn’t get this lucky every day. Children killing themselves due to merciless bullying, young transgender men and women walking in front of buses, jumping off buildings… people so broken there was no other option than to hit reset, because only in controlling the circumstances of their own death could they find peace at the end of life.
If this is you now, don’t look for the reset button anymore. Pass every exit that looks more inviting than the road unfurling before you. You don’t have to stop living to start over. This moment, living, breathing, can be the first again. No one can rob you of that power- they can only convince you that you don’t have it to begin with. But you do, and it starts, not with a reset, but a first step forward.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1–800–273–8255.
First we have Roseanne Barr, an iconic comedian turned television personality from the late 80’s to the late 90’s. She was heralded by critics as a representative of the everyday working class American. After her show ended, she became a different beast altogether, transforming herself from a public figure the masses could identify with into a hate spewing, alt-right politician- she ran for president in 2012 staging a national campaign- criticizing then-President Barack Obama, jumping on the birther bandwagon, standing outside the White House with a megaphone spouting conspiracy theories that would make Alex Jones look like a level headed philosopher.
Although she barely made a dent in the competitive political field, she wasn’t about to let her world views go unheard. In the following years on twitter, she routinely made casual, disgraceful- even false remarks attacking everyone from Hillary Clinton to Transgender Americans, Muslims and Jewish folks. She would go on racist tangents, appealing to the same base that eventually elected Trump.
Nevermind she dressed up as Hitler, complete with a mustache and Swastika armband while pretending to bake, what she called, “Jew cookies” in a gas over. This is what Roseanne had become. This was the real Roseanne.
It was a little shocking when Sara Gilbert, who had played Roseanne’s daughter, Darlene, in the original series and was now co-host of The Talk, decided it was time for a revival. I guess it seemed the thing to do. Full House did it. Gilmore Girls did it. Why not the beloved hit sitcom “Roseanne,” too. Except this wasn’t the same Roseanne. This was a right wing Trump supporter with terrifying- and aggressive- world views.
Sara Gilbert, an out lesbian married to 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry, might have just demonstrated poor judgement. Maybe she really needed another job. Maybe she thought Barr could separate herself from her hate parade long enough to return to the glory days of her titular show that defended the underdog, stood up for the underprivileged and held up a mirror in which most struggling Americans saw their own reflection.
She was too far gone. Although the Roseanne revival premiered to record ratings for ABC in a triumphant return, leveraging a token gender fluid child and an interracial marriage to feign a progressive direction. Donald Trump himself called Barr to congratulate her on her high ratings. Yet, it wasn’t even a month before Barr took to her twitter once again, this time to compare former Clinton Aide, Valerie Jarrett, a respected black woman, to an ape.
Internet justice was swift as outrage permeated the conscience of the greater collective, and ABC, whose president is a black woman herself, unceremoniously canceled her show, despite renewing Roseanne for a second season after the debut of just the first episode.
It was the right thing to do. Especially in this era where racism is so unapologetically expressed, much in part thanks to the perceived approval of Donald Trump. Bigots have climbed out of their crevices, suddenly emboldened to brandish torches, display symbols of White Power and parade down main streets of middle America in White Pride marches feeling untouchable.
Barr demonstrated a mere symptom of a disease that is plaguing America. Where once we thought racism had ebbed into the shadows of an archaic minded minority, it has returned with a vengeance- and those who had previously kept their hatred discreet had come out screaming. There is no question it was in retaliation for the nation having just celebrated its first black President… of course, the goal since Trump took office was to immediately erase his legacy as though it were a blemish on white history.
Enter, now, comedian Samantha Bee. We have a lot of Samantha Bee’s if I’m to be honest. There is John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Johnathan Pie, all who offer scathing commentary on the chaos and division that is, unquestionably, the state of American Politics.
However, Samantha Bee, in response to Trump’s extremely controversial anti-immigration policies that have seen children separated from their families, locked up in concentration camp-like shelters and routinely abused by Border Agents, took Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, to task… on the same week that the tone deaf Ivanka shared an instagram photo with her own child, demonstrating the privilege she has, that those suffering immigrants who have lost their children do not. Bee said;
“Ivanka Trump chose to post the second-most oblivious tweet we’ve seen this week. You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child but let me just say, one mother to another: Do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c*nt! He listens to you!” — Samantha Bee
Suddenly, conservatives were up in arms, demanding Bee experience the same fate as Roseanne and be fired from her network. Except there is one glaring difference in the remarks made by these two comedians.
Roseanne has attacked people based on their gender, sexuality and race.
Bee has never insulted anyone based on any of these factors, and instead was chiding Ivanka for her inaction- albeit rather tactlessly. It wasn’t, however, a hate fueled missile fired at an entire segment of society… and Bee isn’t the only party involved in this story to use that specific word to verbally assault another woman:
That’s the difference. A false equivalency. But Republicans aren’t concerned much with facts, as usual, and instead of considering the context, simply want an eye for an eye. That’s right, they’re more invested in retaliation; In keeping score- even if it means supporting bigotry, rather than losing one of their own.
Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show? A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!
This isn’t altogether unlike the plight of Kathy Griffin, the comedian who took a photograph holding a mock severed head of Donald Trump. Despite her apology, she endured Donald Trump’s form of justice. A three month FBI Investigation, placed on Interpol list, all of her tours canceled by promoters as the entire Trump family leveraged their fan base to attacked her- even sending her gruesome death threats.
Roseanne, however, has been given Trump’s stamp of approval. That’s right. While he has vigorously condemned Bee for insulting his daughter, he has continued to champion Roseanne Barr.
This blatant hypocrisy is something that we’re seeing more frequently than ever before as Republicans selectively choose to publicly castrate their critics and destroy their careers, all while advocating the rampant racism and bigotry from those in their camp who plant their targets firmly- and consistently- on the back of minorities.
The hour long series was the perfect combination of intelligent comedy, poignant drama and charming romance. It was also a directorial masterpiece, with each sweeping scene a moving tableau of visual poetry.
The story itself was, what some might call more of the fantastical fare. A simple, if not altogether awkward Pie Maker discovers he has the ability to bring back the deceased with a simple touch- and if he doesn’t touch them again, sending them back through the pearly gates within 60 seconds, a random someone within close proximity will keel over in exchange. He uses his unique ability in an unusual partnership with a rather enterprising private investigator who leverages the Pie Maker’s abilities to resurrect recently murdered victims so they can discover the identity of their killers, thus, the enterprising duo of investigator and pie maker can collect a handsome reward. It proves a lucrative business, until the lonely Pie Maker discovers the latest murder is that of his childhood sweetheart, Chuck. Once he brings her back, he cannot bring himself to let her go again. The caveat? He can never touch her again. Not a brush of the hand or a kiss on the cheek, but the chemistry between the two is palpable, and you find yourself longing for a happy ending.
Alas, we never got our happy ending. The season finale of the second series left us on a surprising climax that was never resolved as ABC decided to cancel the quirky series, allowing none of the characters- or the audience- any closure.
The show boasted a stellar cast. Lee Pace as the simple Pie Man, Ned, was the man every mother wanted her daughter to marry. Anna Friel was the delightful Chuck, his impossibly sweet and recently resurrected love interest. The legendary Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene portrayed Chuck’s outrageously eccentric, agoraphobic Aunts. The incomparable Kristin Chenowith was Olive Snook, the bubbly, heartsick waitress whose affections for the Pie Maker were unrequited and the incredible Chi McBride was the brilliant and utterly hilarious mastermind who turned what might have been a curse into a profitable business. However unexpected it may have been, onscreen, Pushing Daisies came as close to perfectly manicured, wildly imaginative storytelling as we’ve ever come.
Not a thread of talent was wasted on Pushing Daisies, which even incorporated musical numbers so well placed that it would have made Walt Disney proud. From Ellen Greene singing a rendition of the iconic Cat Stevens song Morning Has Broken as she stands, arms wide open, in a warm summer rainfall to Chenowith’s Olive Snook mopping the floor of the pie shop as she laments with heartbreaking authenticity the Olivia Newton John classic Hoplessly Devoted To You, it seemed certain that Pushing Daisies would go down in the annals of television history as a future classic.
And, for many, it has.
So, why was it unceremoniously cancelled by ABC at the conclusion of the second season? According to executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld (Who, as a sidenote, also brought us such fun outings as The Addams Family Films, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Men In Black franchise) he explained the untimely cancellation to the Huffington Post in 2017 like this:
“We were delayed almost a year, so we were never on long enough and consistently enough to build a word-of-mouth. And then the second issue is, I blame our scripts, in that I think they were slightly too cute. I wish they’d had a little bit more plot.” — Barry Sonnenfeld
Pushing Daisies was a show ahead of it’s time. Long before the musical phenom that became Glee or the whimsical, dark Netflix comedy hit Santa Clarita Diet or the flurry of comic book movie adaptations, Pushing Daisies was the pioneer.
The show itself suffered lackluster marketing. While it generated a further embedded fanbase over time, most discovered the series long after it ended leaving more and more viewers wondering just what happened after the season two climax. The executives at ABC didn’t really give it a fair shot. Ratings slumped during the second season after viewers had waited almost an entire year only to pick up where the first had left off. There were no reruns, no opportunities to go back and binge watch the first season for a quick refresher, so the continuation of the story arc felt segmented- practically forgotten.
Over the years, the cast and show creator- the genius that is Bryan Fuller who had previously brought us another death-is-hilarious comedy, Dead like Me and the suburban comedy Wonder Falls– have all expressed their desire to one day see Pushing Daisies revisited. And there is no better time than now.
The terrain of television has changed dramatically in the decade since we prematurely bid adieu to the denizens of the fictional, idyllic town of Coeur d’Coeurs. Streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon and Netflix have dominated traditional television, usurping the tedium of weekly episodes in lieu of offering up entire seasons at once, that you can watch on demand (As I do frequently with Pushing Daises on my old DVD’s.) The increasingly demanding schedule of television- now more encumbered with reality shows than scripted series- makes it difficult to pencil in an hour to lounge in front of your screen to catch the action as it happens. Perhaps this is why showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy have abandoned weekly episodic entries, the latter in favor of a 300 million dollar Netflix development deal. The industry cannot deny that streaming services have aggregated a much bigger audience than traditional television. Stranger Things, for example, among countless others, only benefited.
We need Pushing Daisies now more than ever. In a heavily politicized climate and the onslaught of daily conflict, the uprising of hate, the emotionally taxing news that inundates us with devastating, depressing news, Pushing Daisies is the blue pill of escapism that we’re begging for.
Trans Trump fan, Erin Sith, invited the California Politician who stalked and recorded a Trans woman who used a public restroom. Jazmina Savvedra was met with both praise and persecution for verbally assaulting an unidentified Transwoman in a California Denny’s Restaurant last week. In the video Savvedra, who is running for a congressional seat in California’s 44th district, harassed, misgendered and claimed the Trans woman was “Scaring” her, and was a “Man in the ladies bathroom.” She laughed as she made a spectacle of the incident before posting the video to Facebook which is laden with Pro-Trump propaganda.
I found it incredibly unusual that Savvedra would accept an invitation from another Transgender woman for a sit-down chat on facebook live until I realized just who she was sitting down with.
Erin Sith is an unusual breed. She’s not just a gun-loving Trump fan who attends his rallies and buys his merchandise; she also seems to be decidedly Anti- trans. In a response to a message from Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsome, encouraging LGBT citizens who have been disenfranchised by the Trump administration to vote, she fired back with a meme that read “2 Genders, 2 Scoops, 2 Terms: Deal with it!”
It’s difficult not to sound judgmental when trying to understand Sith’s frame of mind. How does an individual get to a place where they demonstrably hate themselves and encourage others to join them. Is she a shill- not an actual Transgender person, but a figure intent on manipulating her growing fanbase into thinking that Transgender people asking for equal rights and protections from discrimination are the crazy ones? She has a word she uses to describe them: “ShitTards.”
Is she one of the small minority of Trans people who got lost in a state of gender confusion and now suffers surgical regret? It happens. There are cases where individuals mistakenly took their transvestite interest too far and hoped transition would “fix” them. YouTube is riddled with testimonials from people who de-transitioned after realizing it wasn’t their path. That’s okay. We’re each responsible for our own happiness, and in pursuit of that, we don’t always make the right choices for ourselves.
Whatever the case may be with Sith, she has developed a rather notorious reputation for her antics. She was photographed at a Trump rally where she was donning a Make America Great Again baseball cap while the men and woman around her, also Trump supporters, kept knocking it off her head, calling her names and pushing her away. They didn’t want a Transgender person in their midst. They considered her an enemy. It was during this otherworldly moment that Instagram user kiklowiczz snapped her photo as she simply shrugged before tottering off to look for her MAGA cap once more.
It’s quite possible that Sith just wants to be famous. Not altogether unlike the 14 year old boys lighting their farts on fire and jumping off tall buildings for likes and views, Sith has made sure to cover all the bases. She’s proudly racist, admonishing Facebook for taking down a photo which showed a gaggle of White men giving the White Power hand signal. She recorded herself at a protest against Israel’s bombing of Palestine where she thrust the camera in people’s faces and called them “Self-hating Jews.” The irony of an anti-trans transgender woman calling those promoting peace self hating is not lost on me. I believe she knows it and simply doesn’t care. Her radicalism is too well practiced and broad to be genuine in nature. She’s like a Transgender Tomi Lahren, except bigoted conservatives adore Lahren; Sith? Not so much. But, it’s not for lack of trying.
As if this weren’t enough, she’s also a staunch opponent of feminism.
And absolutely terrified of immigrants and Muslims.
So, the fact she sat down with a Savvedra, an immigrant herself who despises other immigrants, the collaboration of the two makes sense. The fact that they exist in the first place, however, is mind boggling.
Sith is what I call a POPer. An individual who attempts to be Provocative on Purpose to appear edgy, rebellious or generate attention, negative or positive, by which they measure their self worth. The Savvedra interview is only one of many live videos Sith hosts on social media where she rails against minorities, equality, and places a make believe target on her head so she can complain that she is under attack by liberals for being a “Patriot.” Never mind the fact that she doesn’t know what it means.
Her efforts have fetched her limited notoriety in the Republican community who praise her for being smart enough to hate herself as well as everyone else who isn’t wealthy, white, straight or christian, so a actually few give her a pass. Granted, they’re the same folks who would murder her after sex, protest her funeral, refuse her access to a bathroom and let a doctor leave her in the road to die after a car wreck citing religious or moral obligation… but hey, they like her posts. They’re treating her like one of the boys and she revels in it in the same way Trump does- by appealing to their prejudices, regardless if hers are authentic- or for fifteen minutes of fame.
But, I bet if they met her in person, they’d still push her out of the way and knock her MAGA hat off her head again.
Caitlyn Jenner has been flying under the radar ever since she was caught on camera taking a verbal lashing from Trans advocate Ashlee Marie Preston at a Trans Chorus of Los Angeles performance. Preston pounced Jenner, who had helped fund the concert which took place just a day after Trump announced his intended ban on trans service members in the U.S. military, for her support of anti-Trans politicians, many of who she had voted for or made campaign contributions to. Preston shared the video on Facebook, titling it “Caitlyn Jenner, you’re trash.”
It’s no secret that Jenner’s bizarre, antiquated world views have left her few friends in the LGBT community. From stumbling over whether or not she approved of marriage equality during an appearance on Ellen, to championing conservative evangelists who have lobbied to strip rights away from trans folks (And inevitably succeeded.) Jenner’s first steps into the world as a Transgender woman left her tripping over her own heels, landing flat on her new face.
It should be stated, however, that in her book published last year, Jenner blames Ellen for the failure to communicate, claiming the famous lesbian talk show host “Took what I said out of context.”
Couldn’t have been that far out of context. Viewers of her own, now defunct, reality show I Am Cait, watched with unbridled discomfort as Jenner pushed back against the concept of equality, inclusion and visibly struggled to grasp the dangerous political climate that Trans people are trying to thrive in, against the odds. It appeared as if Jenner had somehow remained comfortably detached from the community she was now, suddenly, a part of. Her response was one of someone who expected to maintain their status of the elite, uncontested majority and was startled to discover, by her own actions, she had been thrust to the fringes of society with the rest of us. She was deemed traitorous by many while others simply wrote her off as blissfully ignorant- more concerned with front row seats at New York Fashion week than the real threats facing trans identifying people. It was less what Jenner didn’t know and more what she didn’t care to understand that incensed the public.
Although she has recently done an about-face on her once immovable stances, even conceding that “Trump has sent the transgender community back 20 years.” in a speech delivered to British Parliament earlier this month, Jenner’s arrogance and privilege keep her at arms length as notable figures within the community continue to shun her.
Carmen Carrera, the transgender supermodel who rose to fame prior to her transition on the show Rupaul’s Drag Race and became the first trans woman to ever model for Victoria’s Secret, recently posted a strong handed response to Jenner, who reached out to her via private message on Instagram. While Carrera has criticized Jenner in the past for her damaging, divisive remarks (Such as her statement to TIME magazine stating; “I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically, kind of, looks and plays the role. I try to take [my presentation] seriously. I think it puts people at ease. If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable.”) Carerra didn’t seem to be interested in further entertaining the idea of allying with Jenner asking “Honestly, what does she actively do everyday (sic) for trans folks? And why does she take credit for what real activists are doing? Who even is she?”
Carrera is speaking some home truths, troubling as they may be. Most of Jenner’s appearances have been to collect awards, or speak, despite clearly lacking qualification or access to the authentic Trans experiences, to audiences who greet her with less applause and more side-eye.
Jenner did not respond to Carrera’s Instagram message, so she reached out to her assistant, referred to in Carrera’s post as “sidekick,” Sophia Hutchins. It has been speculated in the press that 21 year old Hutchins, who is also transgender, is Jenner’s fiancée while others allege she is simply a hanger-on, seeking some role-off celebrity. Hutchins did reply, which prompted Carrera to post the above exchange on Instagram calling them both “fake.”
Jenner’s recent speech to the British Parliament was heavily protested by the British transgender community, who started a petition to cancel her appearance in lieu of hosting a British Trans person instead citing the fact that “She doesn’t represent transgender people.”
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation Protects Citizens Privacy While Americans Remain Vulnerable
Privacy is something that most American’s do not realize they’ve lost. Despite high profile cases where government whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden tell the public they’re under constant surveillance, the narrative is shifted and Snowden becomes the villain, having to escape the country to save his own life for tattling on dangerous a government overreach of power.
Amazingly, many Americans weren’t grateful for the information- the fact that they were being listened to by government operatives and their cell phone conversations recorded seemed trivial- but in some bizarre twist, they loathed Snowden for breaking form, at his own risk, and doing what he believed was right for the Nation who had, until then, remained unaware of the violations of their own privacy.
Privacy. In the technological era, does not exist. Just as recently as last month, we saw Cambridge Analytica scrape 85 million Facebook users data, building extensive profiles on them- everything from the political affiliation, to their religious beliefs. After one of the biggest data breeches in history, the American government did absolutely nothing in response.
The European Union on the other hand most definitely jumped into action, establishing new laws that limits the access to consumer data via the General Data Protection Regulation– or GDPR- which puts a heavy hand on companies around the globe that attempt to harvest the data of European users without consent. Furthermore, it gives users of these services more power than ever before, even requiring that they comply with wishes to delete content related to an individual should they request it- everything from banking institutions to social media activity must adhere to these laws regardless of their country of origin in relation to a European resident, it is illegal to acquire any data on a European citizen and store it, sell it or barter with it.
Europe has always had more stringent laws regarding privacy than the United States. For example, it’s much more difficult to track down someone via websites that offer up home addresses, family members, telephone numbers and other personal information. In America, these website are abundant, and available for use for a small fee, prominently advertising their services.
This has resulted in women attempting to escape abusive husbands or ex lovers being found and killed. These are tools that are in every stalkers kit. If they want to find you, for 12.99, they can… and your brother, your mother, your workplace, your home address and any mugshots or criminal record you might have. It’s all there for public consumption. These companies are in the business of selling you to any buyer interested in access to you. This does not exist in Europe. You can’t google a civilians name and come up with anything invasive.
A friend of mine was arrested several years ago for a traffic violation. His mugshot, being in the public domain, was put on a website in a searchable database that users can subscribe to… and many do. Employers use it for background checks, potential landlords use it, even possible future partners just looking for reassurance. For my friend, because his Mugshot was listed on this site- from 4 years prior- he could not get a job. These sites do not bother explaining the charges or even if there were any. In some cases, all charges were dropped, but there remains their mugshot for anyone curious enough to see in a few keystrokes. It causes irreparable damage to an individuals reputation and misrepresents who they are as a person.
They blackmail you. If you want your mugshot removed on just one of the 200 websites, it will cost you 400–800 dollars. They claim they will remove it once the money is paid, but assert the fact that it will remain on all the other data hosting sites around the USA. Quickly, it becomes evident that attempting to remove these things is futile. You must simply live with the ongoing damage that it has incurred on your life.
Not so in the European Union, where citizens have a right to their privacy even in instances involving the law. Anyone attempting to hijack a person’s identity, photo or details and hold it for ransom is committing a crime. Plain and simple.
It was the Cambridge Analytica breech that was the instigator for Parliament to further increase privacy laws to protect their citizens from harm. After all, in the last two years alone, we’d seen the Equifax breech which exposed 143 million names, social security numbers and private credit reports. The American government did nothing on behalf of those effected by it- nor put any provisions in place to prevent it from happening again. You see, the US government sees far to much value in your data to protect you from it’s exposure. It’s sold for millions to advertisers, lobbyists, and business enterprises as well as used to create vast and resourceful volumes on everyday people, their online behaviors, their credit card usage, purchasing history, personal belief systems, points of presence, travel history, whether you are a homeowner, your income level, your age, how many children you have, where you’ve lived in the past. The list goes on and on. None of that information is private. If you could see your profile on Google, you’d be horrified. In some cases, those who checked found photos taken from old phones they thought had been gone as far back as 6 years ago. It stored their geo-location of family trips using Google Maps, hotels they stayed at, their search history, questions they’ve asked Google Assistant, ads they’ve engaged with, personal cell phone numbers, where you work, even the types of hobbies you enjoy. And you can’t erase it.
Some will argue that these radical invasions of our privacy are solely in pursuit of heightened security- to thwart would-be terrorists or apprehend a wanted criminal. Regardless, the cost of this security is your self sovereignty.
The European Union recognizes the basic human right to privacy for all of its residents and have made certain that their new laws crosses international boundaries, limiting even developers in silicon valley from misusing a European residents information. This is why, thus far, I’ve received about 200 emails from everyone from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, game applications, file storage companies and even Google stating they have updated their privacy policies to be in compliance with the GDPR.
This is great news for European citizens who are no longer threatened by America’s reckless handling of user data and profile building. They maintain ownership- and control- over what is allowed on the web and what information companies may harvest. In fact, they can have their presence scrubbed clean, and search engines as well as data miners must comply or risk breaking the law.
This right to privacy has been the justification for decisions involving a wide range of civil liberties cases, including Pierce v. Society of Sisters, which invalidated a successful 1922 Oregon initiative requiring compulsory public education, Griswold v. Connecticut, where a right to privacy was first established explicitly, Roe v. Wade, which struck down a Texas abortion law and thus restricted state powers to enforce laws against abortion, and Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a Texas sodomy law and thus eliminated state powers to enforce laws against sodomy.
The 1890 Warren and Brandeis article “The Right To Privacy” is often cited as the first implicit declaration of a U.S. right to privacy. This right is frequently debated. Some argue that such rights exist (or at least that the Supreme Court has more jurisdiction to protect such a right), while some civil libertarians argue that the right invalidates many types of currently allowed acts such as being surveilled without reasonable cause.
Most states of the United States also grant a right to privacy and recognize these four torts based on that right:
Intrusion upon seclusion or solitude, or into private affairs;
Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts;
Publicity which places a person in a false light in the public eye; and
Appropriation of name or likeness.
The 4 privacy torts above were introduced by William Prosser, some even argue this in addition to the “right to privacy” by Warren and Brandeis form the basis for modern U.S. privacy legislation.
Also, in some American jurisdictions the use of a person’s name as a keyword under Google’s AdWords for advertising or trade purposes without the person’s consent has raised certain personal privacy concerns.
Right to privacy and social media content laws have been considered and enacted in several states, such as California’s “online erasure” law protecting minors- NOT ADULTS from leaving a digital trail. However, the United States is still far behind that of European Union countries in protecting privacy online. For example, the “right to be forgotten” ruling by the EU Court of Justice protects both adults and minors.
On March 11, 2015, Intelligence Squared US, an organization that stages Oxford-style debates, held an event centered on the question, “Should the U.S. adopt the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ online?” The side against the motion won with a 56% majority of the voting audience.
This means that Americans remain at great risk with the complete loss of privacy and at the mercy of massive corporations who intend to use their information like a new currency. Google and Facebook currently have the monopoly on most American identities profiled for their databases.
Despite the potential threats to the safety of Americans from things like identity theft, financial breeches of security, blackmail, disclosure of personal records, and exposure to stalkers led right to their front door, the US government patently refuses to take action and protect it’s people.