Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Hey Teen Resisters!
Wow. Where to start? First off, we hope that those of you on (a much-needed) break from school and/or celebrating any holidays are enjoying yourselves! An incredible amount has happened in the month since our last list; we took a short break (because of our two features--The First Trans Prom King and The Cure Campaign, which you should check out ASAP) but we're back at it again! Before you dive in, make sure to glance at the two urgent updates/actions below. Happy activisting!
1) PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
If you've even glanced at the news in the past few days, you have most definitely seen the headlines about the partial government shutdown that is currently ongoing. In case you're at all confused, here's what's happening, very basically: Congress needs to pass a bill giving the government enough funding for it to keep running, and the latest extension expired on Friday night before more funding could be passed. Trump refused to sign a bill that did not allocate $5.1 billion to his proposed border wall, but Democrats refused to include this money in the bill, and Democrats' votes are needed for the bill to pass. Neither side has yet expressed a willingness to compromise. (Do you see the problem?) Check out this article if you want a more detailed description of what is happening (and why).
2) DEATHS AT THE BORDER
This month alone, two children have died in U.S. custody: On December 8th, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of dehydration and shock at an El Paso hospital, and on December 24th, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonso died after being moved from facility to facility in the six days between his arrival and death. Both children were Guatemalan. The situation at the border is disgusting and inhumane--too much so for us to say it with words--and our government needs to start taking more concrete, comprehensive action to fix it.
What can you do?
what went down
What can you do?
Foreign involvement in this war is a key aspect. The U.S., along with other European powers like the United Kingdom and France, have provided the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and weapons. Due to the recent killing of Jamal Khashoggi, this assistance has come into question. Additionally, the U.S. military has claimed (though Iran denies it) that Iran has been sending arms to the Houthi rebels. This has only perpetuated the ongoing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. At the beginning of December, attempts at peace talks were made, resulting in the exchange of 5,000 prisoners. These are steps in the right direction, but Saudi blockades around Houthi controlled areas have hindered the distribution of vital food and medical assistance by aid organizations.
Check out this New Yorker article about U.S. involvement in the war if you want more info!
What can you do?
The bill was backed by a bipartisan group of senators. Republican Jeff Flake, one of the strongest proponents of the bill, argued that it was necessary in the wake of President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Whitaker, who oversees the Mueller probe, has been openly critical of the investigation, causing widespread worry about the safety of the probe. Opposition among the GOP Senate caucus has been strong, although some Republican leadership has indicated that it would give into Flake’s demand that the bill be brought to vote.
The current government shutdown means that Senators will have a lot on their plate already, so it’s important not to let this key bill go unaddressed. The Senate may be adjourned until Thursday, but you can still call their offices in the meantime, even if just to leave a message. It’s critical that the bill be brought to a vote (and passed!) before the New Year, when the new Congress will meet, including a Senate with a higher Republican majority. If we want Mueller’s probe to be protected (and a constitutional crisis averted!) now is the time to pass this bill.
WHAT TO DO: Call your Senators at 202-224-3121.
Call script: Hello, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent from _______ (city). I’m calling to urge Senator _____ to support the bill protecting Robert Mueller in the case of his firing. In the light of President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General, and his threatening rhetoric towards the investigation, it is clear that the threat of Mueller’s firing is both very real and imminent. The Mueller probe is critical in protecting democracy, and this bill is vital toward ensuring that the President is not treated as immune to the law. I strongly urge Senator ______ to agree to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and to vote for its passage. Thank you.
If the bill became a law, physicians who induce abortions would have to give the pregnant women state-published information about “alternatives” to abortion, as well as submit a report to the Department of Health. The people who perform an ultrasound to determine if the fetus has a heartbeat would, if a heartbeat is detected, have to give the pregnant woman a chance to hear it. The Departments of Health and of Job and Family Services would publish and offer information pertaining to family planning, childbirth, and adoption—but not abortion. In other words, even if an abortion was technically legal (i.e. no heartbeat detected) the bill would still attempt to stop the woman from having the abortion.
HB 258 passed both the House and the Senate. However, it was vetoed by Ohio governor John Kasich, who was concerned that the bill would be immediately struck down for violating Roe v. Wade. The Senate lacked the two votes needed for an override of Kasich’s veto, though the House had a three-fifths majority in support of the bill.
Kasich, however, signed SB 145, which bans a certain abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, or D&E. 95% of second-trimester abortions are performed using this method. Physicians who perform “dismemberment abortions” (as D&E is referred to in the bill) risk being charged with a fourth-degree felony and spending up to eighteen months in prison, unless the mother’s life is at risk.
What can you do?
And, finally, the puppy vid:
We are so excited to partner with The Cure Campaign and share The Cure's message, work, and vision for a better future! The writer of this piece is Ava Monroe. Check out more at thecure.world or on Instagram @thecurecampaign.
When I was ten years old, my mom was diagnosed with Stage Two invasive Breast Cancer. She was thirty-nine. My young, beautiful, brave, brilliant mother: riddled with malignant tumors in both breasts. But when she told me and my siblings, she did not cry. Instead, she made us a promise: I will not die. Although her outcome was something no one could possibly predict, she wholeheartedly believed she would survive. And she did, but that’s not why I started The Cure Campaign. It was sitting in the hospital after my mom’s double mastectomy, later watching her unable to eat dinner after a chemotherapy treatment and feeling crippling fear while waiting to hear the results from her blood test—being there, watching my mom suffer, and feeling an ugly combination of helpless and terrified—that propelled me into action. I was lucky; I still have my beautiful, brilliant mom. I started The Cure for the little girls who don’t. For the people who saw it all, just like I did, but were not so lucky.
The Cure is a national campaign to pass legislation increasing the wildly underfunded National Cancer Research Budget. As of right now, Cancer Research is funded around $5 billion each year. While $5 billion may sound like a lot, compared with the $590 billion for Defense, it’s wholly inadequate. Our goal is to allocate funds in the direction of the future, a future in which cancer is no longer a death sentence. Along the road to congressional approval, we’ve been working on a few projects. The #everybodyknowssomebody social media movement is an initiative to show the American public that cancer is, unfortunately, something that unites us all. Everybody does know somebody, whether they are a patient, survivor, or someone who is no longer here, and it's for those individuals that we fight—for a cure for them. By promoting the universal need to fight for cancer research, we can, as a youth-led-movement, attempt to unite America behind a common enemy: cancer. Everyone can participate—simply use the hashtag, alongside your connection with cancer, and post.
We also have a section on our website entitled Inspiring Youth Advocacy, where we publish articles written by kids that encompass the impact of cancer in America. Some have chosen to write about their personal experience; others have written about new technology in the cancer research field. However, you can write about anything revolving around cancer—the underfunded cancer research department, highlighting a cancer research doctor/hospital, etc. The idea is to create a space in which we can show politicians that cancer research funding is an issue that the youngest generation of Americans care about, something that kids are willing to take time to research and write about. It’s these voices that we want heard, the voices of tomorrow’s voters. You can submit your own article by emailing us at the account listed in our bio on Instagram (email@example.com).
We are are currently working on some new projects in addition to the #everybodyknowssomebody and Inspiring Youth Advocacy campaigns, including: a promotional video, meetings with politicians to develop legislation, our continuing “Fact A Day” social media campaign geared towards educating our followers, exciting partnerships and press, a merchandise line in which half of each individual profit goes to a local cancer research institute, creating a step-by-step process for nationwide branches, a potential march, and more! We are also in the process recruiting new members—if you want to get involved, just fill out the Google Form in our Instagram bio and check out our latest post. After filling out our Google Form, we will contact you and schedule an interview. We are always excited for new members to join the team!
The Cure is an Incorporporated, 501(c)(4) Nonprofit Organization, staffed by minors, with a mission to change America. We are children with a beautiful concoction of intellect, passion, and maybe a bit of recklessness, and we are ready for battle. Everyone on this team has someone their fighting for; everyone in this country has someone they can fight for. Passing major legislation in our current political climate is seemingly impossible. But if America stands with The Cure, we can succeed. Join the movement because—I promise—this is just the beginning.
If you want to learn more, follow us on our Instagram (@thecurecampaign), check out our website (thecure.world), or simply post with the #everybodyknowssomebody. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with more questions!
We are honored to be one of 30 global youth platform partners in the launch of an initiative by @ChimeForChange (CHIME FOR CHANGE) and @weareirregular (Irregular Labs) to explore gender and our fluid future through the lens of Gen Z. We're so excited to share this story of an incredible young person, Alan Belmont. Check out the other content and partner platforms in the link below. The writer of this piece is Mackenzie Wagoner.
Full report: https://www.irregularlabs.com/gender
Last spring in Indianapolis, then 17-year-old Alan Belmont made history when he became the nation’s first transgender prom king. If Belmont’s campaign seemed like a long shot — he ran for prom king in, of all places, the conservative Midwestern birthplace of Mike Pence — his win is the canary in the coal mine for the deeply gendered high school ritual, and the billion dollar industry that supports its binary traditions.
In between his freshman college classes, Belmont hopped on a call to talk about who has the right to the titles of prom king and queen, and what prom attendees of the future will be wearing. Hint: it’s not your average penguin suit.
Why did you decide to run for prom king?
I think a lot of people would call prom king and queen a popularity contest, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. I don't think I ever was popular until I won prom king. I'm a trans guy. When you think of the popular kid, a trans person is never in your mind. The main thing that I wanted to say by running was: Yes, this is something that has never happened in our school. And this could be a historical, great moment, but I don't want a trans person running for prom king to be the most amazing thing in the world. It’s just prom king and queen. It’s just high school prom, everyone does it.
Tell me about your transition — when did you know that you identified as male?
I started thinking about gender my sophomore year when I met someone agender online. They educated me on they/them pronouns and what a trans person really is and what it all means. I went into the library and I got this book called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. I started reading it and relating to the feelings that the trans guy in the book was talking about having. I went to a meeting that the gay straight alliance at my school was having where this guy was talking about the spectrum of gender and what it means to be trans. He had a full beard and had a deep voice, and I didn't realize he was trans until after the presentation even happened. I was so shocked and amazed, and it was that presentation that really got me questioning my own identity. And that's when I realized how valid all the feelings I was feeling were. I asked my friends if they would shorten my name and call me Al. I wanted to see how it felt.
When you were getting ready for prom, how did you decide what to wear?
I learned a lot about how men dressed through being in show choir because we would have dress up days where guys would come in wearing suits. So for prom I got this really nice like $300 suit because I thought, you know what, I'm running for prom king. I went to a department store and I got a pair of dress pants, a suit jacket separate, a white collared shirt and a tie. I didn’t know what a fitting was. I got fitted at a regular tux shop in the mall, just like any other guy would. And they were like, "Okay, here's your cufflinks and your bow tie and your button cover.” I was like, "Oh my god. This is a lot more than what I thought it was.”
Who did you take with you? And what did it feel like to win?
I went with my ex-girlfriend. When I found out I won, the crowd was cheering and I knew they really supported me and were looking out for me.
If you could go to prom again, what would you wear?
My boyfriend is a senior in high school still. He's probably going to go to prom this year. And he's like, "I don't want prom to be the girls in cool, crazy dresses and all the guys just in black suits. We should go to prom this year in some cool outfit.” And I was like, "Okay, let's do it”. Platform heels and dress pants and a collared shirt, but with a cool jacket — it’s not necessarily suit and tie. Now, with social media being something that everyone is a part of and with fashion and culture being more normative, a lot of people are now going to start wearing things that are more out there to prom. I think guys will get involved in it, too.
Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
Mitch Grassi from Pentatonix is very fluid in his gender expression. It really helped me when I was coming out. I learned that it's okay to present yourself as feminine even if you are a guy. And that applies to trans people, too. Just because I'm trans and I was born as a girl, doesn't mean that that should be taken away from me. I do drag, for example.
A lot of people think that's weird — they’re like, "Hold on a second. You were born a girl, right? And you're a guy, but now you're dressing as a girl again?" It has nothing to do with dressing as a girl. It is a way for me to express a side of femininity that I couldn't if I was just wearing feminine clothes, because that would make me feel weird. I can put on huge lashes and this big wig and these ridiculous clothes and still be viewed as a guy. And it's something that's so freeing for me to do. If a cis guy were to put on makeup like James Charles or Jeffree Star —they do it all the time and no one questions it. Makeup is a form of expression and it’s something that I want to participate in. Just because I’m trans, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have to.
Tell me why it’s important for you to be able to express a spectrum of gender:
Gender identity and gender expression get mixed up a lot. My gender identity is a man, but I express my gender in a lot of different ways. I don't always wear super masculine clothes. I do because I want people to acknowledge me as male. I would say that my gender expression coincides with my gender identity in the same way that how I express myself does not define who I am.
How do you think the future of prom can support more fluid gender expressions and identities?
I would love to see a prom with a lot more cool clothing. But I also want to see, at least from my school, a trans girl do the same thing that I did. In Indiana, people are not as open about gender expression and gender identity. This is where Mike Pence is from. In my community, there’s a lot less open acceptance of trans women than there is of trans men. It seems nearly impossible for trans women and trans women of color to gain acceptance among cis normative people. It is a lot easier for me to pass. It has a lot to do with the way that hormones affect bodies. I cannot wait for a trans woman in Indiana to make a name for herself and to be unapologetically herself. To live as herself, for herself, and to make representation more valid. I just can't wait to see that happen.
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