Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree

“You can be friends with people who have different views than you. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem. Just agree to disagree.”

This is a popular sentiment I see on social media, typically coming from republican/ conservative individuals. Partially they’re right, it’s important to have a diverse group of friends who have different life experiences from you. You should have friends of different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and upbringings in order to learn more about the world and how those who are different from you experience it.  Except that isn’t what people actually mean when they talk about having friends with different views from you. They are talking about political affiliations specifically, and how liberal and conservative people should be able to be friends despite the others belief system.

I try my best not to completely write someone off due to their political beliefs, however I do not want to surround myself with people who think it’s okay to believe in bigoted things. I will not agree to disagree when someone else’s life, rights, or quality of life is at stake. I will not agree to disagree when you want to strip someone of their rights due to their minority status. That is not the kind of person I want in my life. Living in a fairly conservative suburb in Texas, I’ve lived with these kinds of people my entire life. That means many of my friends over the years have held some disgusting and inexcusable beliefs. After being in many friendships with those who have polar opposite beliefs from my own, I have learned that there becomes a huge divide between the two of you and the relationships often lack honesty. It’s hard to go to that friend for advice or to talk through a problem when their solution is not something you believe is morally right, or you feel judgement from them because of your own views on the situation.

The people who you allow to get close to you effect the way you think and behave. If you surround yourself with people who are homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, etc. after time you begin to become numb to their ignorance, and may even pick up on some of their tendencies.

I do think it is important to listen with an open mind to others beliefs, but that does not mean you have to surround yourself with people whose opinions you condemn. I am not the first person to say this, but agreeing to disagree works when you’re disagreeing about whether or not a certain film is good or if mayonnaise is disgusting (it totally is by the way 🙂 ) Issues like disability rights, reproductive rights, queer rights, immigration, and many others are not something to shrug off as if it isn’t a big deal. So yes, you can and should be friends with people who have different views than you, but that does not include people who have toxic views rooted in ignorance and hatred.

 

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March for Our Lives 2018

*Reposted because it accidentally got removed*

On March 24th, I had the privilege in participating in the March for Our Lives. I was originally planning to march here in Texas, where I live, but since I ended up being at the Mayo Clinic on the 24th, I Marched in Rochester, MN.

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“Our Youth are Our hope”

The high schoolers who put on the March did an incredible job! They gave fiery passionate speeches, and were able to organize around 2,000 people to march with them. For a town the size of Rochester, it was pretty amazing. This was my first ever march, and I’m glad I started with one on the relatively small side. Luckily, the March itself was very short, so it wasn’t too much walking.

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” I thought you were pro-life”

I hope we see real political change come from these marches. Even though I have no connection to Emma Gonzales, I feel so proud of her (as weird as that may sound). She is so unapologetically herself, and has stood strong even with all of the hate from republican politicians, while grieving her friends and processing an incredibly traumatic event.

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“ENOUGH”

My one criticism of the conversation to come out of the march, is the lack of conversation around police brutality and gun violence. You cannot ignore police brutality when talking about gun violence, as they are a major perpetrator of gun violence. Black peoples voices have not been highlighted, when they have been advocating for gun control for so long without any one listening. I get them centering the voices of kids affected by school gun violence, particularly mass shootings, as this was the main reason for the march, but gun violence goes so much deeper than that. It would have been nearly impossible to include all of these conversations in one march, and I think it was smart of them to focus the march particularly on mass school shootings, but I do think there should be more discussion about different types of gun violence.

I really enjoyed being able to March… but my body did not. The actual march was only like 0.3 miles, but my body went crazy afterward. I was so incredibly fatigued and exhausted that I could barely move for six hours, and it took me two days to get significant relief. Sometimes with chronic illness you have to chose when it’s worth it to “overdo it.” I knew I wouldn’t do well after this, but it was so important to me. I may have felt like hell afterwards, but the experience of being there and standing up for what I believe in made it completely worth it.

 

Why “I’m just not very political” is an Ignorant Statement 

Few phrases get under my skin as much as, “I’m just not very political” does.

First of all, if you don’t care about politics you’re probably incredibly privileged. If it doesn’t matter who’s in power to you, you’re probably not the one getting your rights taken away, or having to fight to have rights in the first place. Even if the majority of politics “aren’t going to effect you” you should still have an ounce of humanity in you to care about other people, and how politics might affect their lives.

Most people don’t get the choice to not be involved in politics. They have to fight for basic human rights and to continue to have the right’s they’ve already been given. Being complacent isn’t an option. Minorities having been fighting the same fight for hundreds of years, and know that they can’t back down even when they’re tired or its inconvenient.

“I’m not just that political” is such a cop-out statement. As if not caring about politics excludes you from having to care and making decisions that effect other people’s lives. For example, I know a lot of people who refused to vote in the last election because they didn’t like Trump or Hillary. Choosing not to vote does not mean that you aren’t responsible for the outcome. Voting is your civic duty, and if you are able to vote and chose not to, then you are part of the problem.

Many people who claim they “aren’t very political” seem to feel a sense of moral high ground, as if caring about politics is wrong or stupid. I think not caring about politics is wrong and stupid. Attempting to exclude yourself from politics, does not make you a better or more mature person. I would actually argue that it’s incredibly immature to not participate in politics. Hard decisions have to be made, rather you like the candidates or not, and is the last election it should not have been a hard decision. No matter what country you are a citizen of, you should always be actively trying to make it a better place. If you are lucky enough to live in a democracy, then you ought to play a part in politics, and put your ballot where your mouth is. Also, if you chose not to vote, you have no right to complain about politics. You had a chance to better our country, and instead you sat idly by being complacent.

Everyone should vote.

Everyone should care about politics.

Everyone should want to move forward and better our country.

The Truth About Texas

Texas is the butt of many jokes, specifically about how conservative it is.

While it may be a red state, Texas isn’t always the hell it’s been made out to be.

I’ve lived half my life in South Texas – San Antonio, and the other half in North Texas – Dallas. I’ve always lived in the suburbs so my experience stems from that. Cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston are all incredibly progressive and you’ll find more democrats than republicans there. San Antonio is a little different. There’s a heavy catholic influence so people tend to lean more conservative, but there re still more progressive people in the city than other places in Texas.

The high school I went to was predominately white, but also had a sizable asian population. While there was the occasional super republican kid who spit out all the bigoted phases they heard at home, most people were pretty chill. I came out to a few of my friends at the time, and while they were shocked, it wasn’t a big deal. There were LGBTQ+ kids who were out and dating and most people didn’t care or at least didn’t care enough to say anything.

You will see protesters outside planned parenthood or standing on an overpass with their open carried guns, but those kind of people are everywhere. Even in the most liberal areas in the US there are still conservative people. I think most people would be surprised how many progressive and moderate people live here.

My narrative may be different from someone who grew up in a small town. The small town conservative mentality reaches much farther than the South though. Being LGBTQ+ in Texas isn’t always the death sentence its made out to be. While I would never want to erase the struggles of people who have experienced abuse for being LGBT in Texas, I think it’s important for people to know that isn’t everyones narrative. There are happy LGBTQ+ people who live in the South and people who come from religious families who have positive coming out stories.

Do I daydream about living in San Fransisco where most people identify with being LGBTQIA+in some way or another? Yes of course, but for now i’m pretty happy right where I am. I want to see the Texas legislature be reformed and more sane people go into power. These past few weeks a lot of bigoted laws have been put into place, and that has to change. I don’t think running to leave Texas the first chance I get is going to help anyone, and for now I want to stick around and do my part to make Texas a place where everyone is respected and receives the equity they deserve.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Why do we have to fight this stuff?

The laws Obama put in place to protect transgender kids were abolished yesterday.

It makes me so sad that we have to fight for trans people to use the restroom the corresponds with their gender. These laws were made to protect trans students, and the White House sent a very clear message that they are okay with putting these students lives in danger, because they don’t support trans rights. This is beyond ridiculous.

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These are the same people who make fun of safe spaces, and this is exactly why we need safe spaces! Kids shouldn’t be forced to use the wrong bathroom at school or to go by the wrong pronouns. They shouldn’t be afraid to change in the locker room or scared they might get attacked by a classmate. Abolishing these laws tells bullies what they’re doing is acceptable. 41% of transgender people will attempt to commit suicide in their lifetime; bullying and intolerance play a huge role in that statistic. Those statistics are even higher for ethnic minorities, those in poverty, and people who don’t finish high school.

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These kids need protection and love when going through the already difficult experience of middle school and high school. Why are we letting our government out an even bigger target on their back? When I was still going to high school there was a guy I knew who was trans and had gone to elementary school with me. I only knew he was trans because the news spread like wildfire. Everything from supportive comments to transphobic slurs filled the halls. For reference I went to a HUGE school, so it seemed weird that anyone cared, but this is Texas after all. Luckily my school let him use the boys locker room and bathroom, but people weren’t always very nice and he had to deal with the gossip and being misgendered daily.

I don’t have any great advice or solution to the issue, besides telling transphobic people to get their heads out of their asses, but I don’t think that’ll help. Continuing to support organizations that fight for LGBTQ+ rights like the Trevor Project, GLSEN, Trans Lifeline, and The Human Right’s Campaign is important. If you have someone who is transgender in your life let them know how much you love and support them. If you are trans know this cis gay girl may not be able to understand your struggles, but she loves you and supports you 100%!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

Texas Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

Texas is trying to put a series of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place that are detrimental to the queer community.

The first one is a “bathroom bill” similar to one passed in  North Carolina. We fought North Carolina, and unfortunately have yet to win that battle. These so called “bathroom bills” are absolutely ridiculous and aren’t protecting anyone. They’re transphobic and only cause more problems. How do you tell someone who presents femininely and identifies as a woman to use the men’s restroom because she was assigned male at birth? That only puts her in danger, and criminalizes her gender. It doesn’t matter if the trans person “passes” or not, they have the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender.

Other legislation is being reviewed that lets teachers out students to their parents. This is so harmful! Suicide rates of LGBTQ+ are much higher than those of non-lgbt youth, and students who have unsupportive families only have an even high chance of self-harm and suicide. Many students don’t come out at home because they know it isn’t safe, but they are out as school and see it as a safe haven. Parents don’t get to know every piece of information about their children just because they are the parents. Some people are terrible parents and we should be protecting our  LGBTQ youth.

If you thought those were bad, just wait there’s more! They’re looking into making it legal to refuse service to someone based off their sexual orientation or gender identity and making it legal to refuse marriage licenses based off “religious beliefs.” That is complete and utter bullshit. You can’t break federal law because of religious beliefs. They already did this with Kim Davis and she ended up getting arrested, but with our mess of a government who knows what will happen.  I don’t believe being homophobic is a religious belief, but thats another topic for another time.

I’m hoping and praying that these things don’t pass, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few of them did. Lots of celebrities are standing up against these laws, and I suspect if they pass they will pull their concerts and shows like they did in NC. South by South West is coming up and if people pull out, Texas could potentially lose millions of dollars.  Not only are these laws discriminatory and unconstitutional, but they are also bad for our economy.

Here’s a simple way you can help whether you’re a texan or not!

Go Here and Read the article

Scroll down to the bottom of my page and click on this to send an email to the Texas legislators to oppose these horrible, homophobic and transphobic laws!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

There’s a Person Behind Your Politics

There is a person behind your politics,

or rather people.

Every decision you make and law you put into place affects the happiness, well-being, and prosperity of others. You can’t take the people out of politics and only think about policy, because every decision thats made affects someone else’s day to day life.

Reproductive rights, gun laws, immigration laws, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, all these things not only affect peoples happiness, but are also the difference between life and death. There is no other way to look at it in my eyes. This horrific “Muslim Ban” is tearing apart families, and will be the cause of death for many. The federal judge may have put a hold on this, but people are still being detained and treated like criminals. How can we turn our backs on our fellow human beings, cover their mouths, and let them suffer?

I’m tired of seeing white, middle class Americans having a “I got mine, but I don’t want anyone else to get there’s” mentality. Selfishness rules this country. Just take a look at the laws we put in place. We legalize weed, because people want to have the right to get high, but on other “progressive issues” the same people vote against them. People vote against marriage equality, and against reproductive rights. They want to give themselves the most rights, while restricting everyone else.

I think the problem with a lot of politicians is that they don’t think about the people they’re affecting. Immigrants and refugees are just another bullet point on a piece of paper to them. I’m happy to see so many people going out to airports to protest. Americans are riled up and angry as we should be. I will not stand behind anyone who would let another human being suffer due to their religion or ethnicity.

I believe you shouldn’t restrict others rights based off any beliefs you have. If you are anti-abortion, then don’t get an abortion, but don’t make it illegal for other people to have control over their bodies. If you’re against marriage equality, guess what, you don’t have to marry someone of the same gender, but don’t revoke the basic human right of marriage from another person.

Think about real human beings when you make decisions that will affect others lives. I want to live in a world where we treat one another with love, and compassion. I want to celebrate our different cultures, and the things that make us unique. If you’re an immigrant, practice Islam, or have family and friends in any of the countries that are now “banned” just know you are loved and wanted here.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa