Genderqueer & Trans Fashion Zine


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This zine is a compilation of genderqueer and trans people in the UMBC and local community showcasing their outfits, their identities, and what fashion means to them. To begin, I set up a poll with time slots for genderqueer and trans identifying people to sign up and model for this project. My original idea was to take photos of the volunteers and ask them only for their gender identities and pronouns. Through discussion with others, I decided to add an additional section where I would ask models, “What does fashion meant to you?”. I recorded each person’s response. This addition was essential and facilitated important conversations with each model.

 

Originally, I felt that the impact of the final product would be the most powerful. I quickly realized that the fashion shoots themselves turned out to be a wildly meaningful part of the process. Not only were genderqueer and trans folk able to showcase their unique and creative fashion choices, but they were able to feel beautiful along the way. The genderqueer and trans community often faces a variety of insecurities, anxieties, and sadness when deciding how to present themselves each day. Rather than focusing on the difficult aspects of fashion for genderqueer and trans people, these fashion shoots gave each model a positive platform to be themselves whether dramatic, silly, serious, or just plain happy. The photo shoots were able to foster feelings of positive energy as well as moments of affirmation for the genderqueer and trans individuals involved. I was even able to set up a second week of photo shoots to give a wider access to potential genderqueer and trans folk who couldn’t volunteer for the original photo shoot time slots. I want to continue to work on projects in the future where I showcase the beauty of this community.

 

Once completing each photo shoot, I uploaded the best pictures online and shared it with each individual model so they could have access to their photos. Next, I transcribed the recordings of what fashion meant to each model. I then printed out the most expressive photos of each model and printed the fashion quotes using a common font so it would feel familiar to the readers. I decided I would give each model one page including a few pieces of content: their photos, current names, pronouns, gender identities, and their responses to my question. I gave model Namy two pages because they volunteered for three separate photo shoots!

 

Using scissors and an x-acto knife I cut everything out, added water color to border the fashion quotes, and collaged each page together with mod podge. I added cute magazine cut outs of plants and other images to add a bit of pizazz on each page. Once they dried I used a marker to add some doodles. I wanted the zine to have a journal feel to it, a little messy with some imperfections (just like all of us!). I wrote out the intro and outro pages, mod podged them and waited for everything to be set. Once reviewing the final pages, I photocopied them to create a digital copy of the zine for two reasons: it could be posted online for free, easy access to the general public and be used as a template to make printed copies of the zine. The Women’s Center was helpful along the entire process. They used their resources and connections on campus to help spread the word about the zine to potential models. Once seeing the final digital copy the Women’s Center staff wanted to print copies of their own to be kept in the Center. They are also advocating to have printed copies of this zine put out for the official opening of the first Multi-Stall All-Gender Restroom at UMBC on May 28th, 2019. Here is more information:

Multi-Stall All-Gender Restroom Info


 

In the future, I would like to organize the photo shoots with an improved method. I received feedback from one of the volunteer models that they were expecting a confirmation email once they signed up for a slot. I hadn’t thought of this, but I will be sure to implicate confirmation emails it in later projects. At first, I wanted this zine to be more informationally rooted from accredited sources online, but then I realized the voices of the genderqueer and trans community already face adversity and these voices are essential to understanding the various ways we exist in this world. I think the quotes on each model’s page provides extremely important and comforting viewpoints. There has been some feedback from genderqueer and trans readers of the zine who said it provided them with positive feelings. My hope is that this will zine will benefit people of all gender identities. I will continue to use the voices of the genderqueer and trans community at the forefront of my projects. Here is a copy of the zine:

Fashion Zine 2019

As an activist, I want to reassure people that they’re capable of being an activist themselves. I want my work to encourage people and remind them that their voices are essential and have endless value. In relation to grassroots activism, it is evident that a lot of wonderful changes can start with the hard work of a few individuals. I am excited to see where this path of activism takes me and the incredible people I will meet along the way.


 

Intimate Partner Violence

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HopeWorks of Howard County is an organization that assists people (mostly women) who are victims and survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. They provide emergency housing, counseling, and various other forms of support for people in need. For my activist project I signed up to be a childcare volunteer at HopeWorks. https://wearehopeworks.org/

What is intimate partner violence?
Intimate partner violence is what most people know to be domestic violence. At HopeWorks they feel that calling it domestic violence gives it a certain image that does not capture what the phrase intimate partner violence does. The phrase “domestic violence” tends to make people think of middle aged men abusing their middle aged wives, whereas “intimate partner violence” tends to be more inclusive. Intimate partner violence means the victim or survivor is experiencing, or has experienced, violence in a close relationship.

I decided to volunteer at HopeWorks because I myself am a survivor of sexual violence, and I want to help those who have similar experiences to me. This issue is pervasive in our society and, unfortunately, too often goes overlooked because the predominant victims and survivors are women.

The goal of my project was to help the children of survivors while their parents were receiving therapy at HopeWorks. I was required to do a sixteen hour training for being a volunteer followed by four hours of specialized training for my chosen path. Unfortunately, I was never needed when I was available to volunteer. There were not very many opportunities for childcare in the first place, but between work and school I was unable to sign up for any open slots until this past week.

I plan to continue volunteering with HopeWorks in an effort to assist those in need as much as I possibly can. To do this I have contacted the volunteer coordinator in order to see what other training I can complete as well as other facets of the organization I may be able to assist with. She has been very understanding, as much as she can, as far as my availability is concerned. Moving forward I will be conducting research for the organization as well as completing training to be an office volunteer.

If I had to do this project again I would change a few things, but not very much. I have always wanted to volunteer at a domestic violence counseling center, but this project finally got me to move forward with my intentions. I plan to continue volunteering at HopeWorks for as long as I am in Maryland, so I will have plenty of opportunity to assist those in need.

This project truly opened my eyes as far as my activism in the sense that I do not do enough. I could be doing so much more to be a better activist, but my fear of standing out has always gotten in the way. This project has made me realize not only could I do more, but I need to do more. If I do not step up, who will?

Title IX Awareness

When we began this project, we looked around at the UMBC community and asked ourselves what every activist asks themselves: what is our community in need of to make it better? Around October of 2018, three brave women joined together and filed a class action lawsuit against UMBC for the way they were treated during their respective Title IX cases by the Title IX program and UMBC police officers. It sparked outrage and multiple protests across campus, and eventually led to the Student Advisory Committee to be created to hold UMBC accountable for the change they vowed to make. Combine this with the Harvey Weinstein allegations, the #MeToo movement, and the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, and we knew what our topic had to be about. We were all disturbed by the previous year’s events, and decided to do something to educate students about Title IX policies and procedures, how to file a complaint, and who students can go to to report their own cases or help their friends report.

Early on in this activism project, we knew we had to poll the student population to see how much they knew about Title IX, and the results were not positive.

Sixty-two students across several student organizations participated in the survey. While 95% of students said that they had heard of Title IX, only 44% were able to accurately describe Title IX in their own words. One third (32%) had heard of Title IX but could not describe it, while 19% were able to somewhat describe Title IX. Between the third that had heard of Title IX but could not describe it and of the 19% that could somewhat describe it, 32% described only Title VII, or both Title VII and Title IX. Most students could not locate the Title IX office and coordinator – 82% said they did not know where the Title IX office was located, while 16% were able to state which building the office was located in, but only one student was able to state which building and which floor the office was located on. Lastly, 73% of the students stated that if they or a friend needed to file a complaint, they did not know how to do so.

A little more than half (57%) of students said they had heard of the term ‘responsible employee,’ however, when asked to list who qualified as a responsible employee on campus, only 45% could list some responsible employees, and only 6% correctly identified that all UMBC faculty/staff are responsible employees unless they are specifically designated as confidential or quasi-confidential. When asked if they knew where to go for support resources, 58% of students indicated they knew where to obtain support resources, and 42% said they did not know where to obtain support resources. Of the 58% who said they knew of support resources, only a subset could identify at least one support resource – 32% listed the Women’s Center, 27% listed the Title IX office/Coordinator/website, 11% listed We Believe You, and 10% listed the Counseling Center.

If you’re as shocked by these statistics as we were, good. These statistics only make is that much more clear that Title IX awareness and education is so important and crucial for students to learn about in college, as well as for universities to properly respond to allegations with the respect and dignity the victims deserve. Students need to know this basic information so that if and/or when something happens to themselves or their friends, they know the steps to take without having to search for hours about. Students deserve to know their rights.


Armed with all of this information and the responses to the anonymous Google survey, we got to work. Since social media is so prevalent in our society today, and is the usually best way to get people interested, our first step was to create a social media account where this information could be shared with as many people as we could find. One of our group members created our instagram page, @titleixtruths.umbc, where we advertise Women’s Center events, post real statistics we found, quotes to inspire survivors, and promote our survey as well as our website. As of this post, we have 129 followers. Next, we thought it would be best to create a website that compiled all of the information we thought students needed to know, like an FAQ section about Title IX specific to UMBC, different articles about Title IX, etc. The website is linked below. The other reason for creating this website is so we could put it on our posters, which were distributed on campus bulletin boards and bathrooms.

I’d say that we’ve accomplished a lot in the past few months! What worked for us was splitting up tasks according to our members’ individual strengths, and constantly checking in with each other to see where we were. We didn’t run into anything that didn’t work, however if we had more time and could do things differently, we would have also made pamphlets to distribute around campus. Overall, we think our group worked really well together.

We’ve all learned about our relationship to activism, and how we see ourselves as activists. We are all very different people with different backgrounds, but when we talked about it, we realized that we did like being active in our activism, and that we all saw ourselves as activists. At the beginning, we all believed that activism had to be this big thing with rallies and microphones and banners, but that’s simply not the case. Some of us are more comfortable with online activism, whereas others are more than happy to speak out about the issues that matter to them. We learned that activism is different for everyone, but as long as you’re doing something to help your community and makes a positive impact, any act – big or small – is welcome and appreciated.

Some extra links to educate yourself on Title IX practices and procedures, as well as more statistics:

https://titleixtruths.wixsite.com/titleixtruths

https://www.instagram.com/titleixtruths.umbc/

https://web.stanford.edu/group/maan/cgi-bin/?page_id=297

The Black Panther Party

1st May 1969: Members of the Black Panther party demonstrate outside the Criminal Courts Building one month after 21 Panthers were charged with plotting to dynamite city stores, a police station and a railroad right-of-way, New York City, (Photo by Jack Manning/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

When you think of the Black Panther Party, you may think of only negative things. Unfortunately, thanks to the media and the U.S. government, this is far from the truth. In 1966, the Black Panther Party (BPP) was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland California to help their communities better themselves, as well as defend themselves and low income, minority communities against police violence. A description of the party’s clear mission statement is outlined in Beyond Radical Chic: The Black Panther Party by T. A. Davies:

“The Panthers saw the urban black ghetto as a kind of internal colony within the United States and police brutality as an extension of imperialist violence. The Oakland Police Department was the white coloniser’s armed force sent to keep local blacks, literally and metaphorically, ‘in their place’. The Panthers were a paramilitary liberation force that aimed to protect people from that oppression. Arming themselves with shotguns, they began conducting regular patrols, observing and recording police conduct in their neighbourhood.”

T.A. Davies, Beyond Radical Chic: The Black Panther Party

Those with legal open carry licenses would patrol their streets armed with guns, ensuring that unwarranted police violence would not go unmet. To counteract the media focusing on violent police interactions, those who weren’t allowed to legally open carry also patrolled, but they were in charge of filming any and all police interactions within their community – a practice which is still done by many today. They made a 10 point program for these communities that had things like free breakfast for kids, free legal aid, and free medical clinics. Although their main focus was on low income, minority communities, they also supported other “radical” movements such as the women’s rights movement and “gay liberation” movement.

Members of the Black Panther Party stand behind tables and distribute free hot dogs to the public, New Haven, Connecticut, late 1960s or early 1970s. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

What led to the Black Panther Party’s eventual disbandment in 1986 was a combination of two factors: lack of clear internal organization, and the FBI COINTELPRO surveillance program. When Eldridge Cleaver rose to leadership, he wanted to change the party focus to being more violent against police acts against them. There was conflict over what they should focus on as a movement: should they be focusing on the original mission statement of building up their communities? Or should the focus on “fighting the power” and reacting to police violence? This conflict led to disorganization, a split within the party, and was the ultimate downfall of the BPP.

The FBI COINTELPRO surveillance program only instigated this divide by proclaiming their acts as evidence of communism, infiltrating the headquarters to gain evidence for prosecution of members, and made a case to make it illegal to advocate for violent overthrow of the government. The police were also working against the party’s efforts, taking action against members. They assassinated known BPP members, raided known meeting places, and arrested as many as they could. This quickly became the norm and incited more violent actions by certain members, which also helped instigate the divide within the BPP.

Emory Douglas’ art counteracting the media’s reaction to the Vietnam war, shown in the Black Panther Party newspaper. “The tears in the image reflect the pain and suffering that I heard when I talked to people in the struggle, or in the military.” – Emory Douglas.

This is a great example of activism because it wasn’t based on social media or media at all, its message was spread throughout lower class communities via word of mouth. The Black Panther Party was proactive in their activism, and it started as a grassroots movement to simply help their communities. Before the party ended, chapters of the party were spread throughout the U.S. and even in Europe. Links to further learn about the Black Panther Party and their mission can be found below.

https://www.history.com/topics/civil-rights-movement/black-panthers

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/27-important-facts-everyone-should-know-about-the-black-panthers_n_56c4d853e4b08ffac1276462

https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/workers/black-panthers/

Keep Abortion Legal

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For our Activism History Project, we decided to speak about the birth control movement, Roe v. Wade (1973).

The 1973 Supreme court case, Roe vs Wade, affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion was a constitutional right. It abolished all abortion restrictions enacted by all 50 states. Since its legalization, abortion has become one of the safest medical procedures someone can undergo in the United States.

Before getting into the court case, let us discuss the reason in which the case was filed in the first place. Norma McCorvey, also known as Jane Roe, wanted to end her pregnancy for non-medical related reasons. District Attorney of Dallas, Henry Wade, allowed for Texas law to make abortion a crime, unless the mother’s life was at risk. Roe and her lawyers claimed that criminalizing abortion was a violation of constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court invalidated the Texas law by a 7-2 vote. The 9th and 14th amendments protect and individuals right to privacy. Right to privacy is large enough to include a women’s decision to end her pregnancy.

See the source image

As stated earlier, it abolished all abortion restrictions enacted by all 50 states. Due to the legalization of abortion, it’s become one of the safest medical procedures someone can undergo in the United States.

Abortion is a form of health care. Before this healthcare was legal, illegal abortions caused 1 in 6 pregnancy related deaths.

Nearly 1 in 4 women in America will have an abortion during her lifetime. Where would these women go if Roe Vs. Wade is overturned and abortion is outlawed in their state? Recently there has also been the proposal of heartbeat bills which are aiming to encroach the laws passed by Roe v. Wade. The proposal – to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected – is now forcing US Supreme court to re-examine Roe. v Wade. Overturning Roe vs. Wade would put more than 25 million women at risk of losing access to abortion, which is more than a third of reproductive aged women in this country.

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We selected this topic because it is very prevalent in our society today. For years abortion has been stigmatized by people who view it as completely unacceptable and undesireable. Abortion is a valid and personal decision that still lies within the continuum of health care.

When governments restrict access to abortions, people are more likely to resort to unsafe abortions. It’s also important to realize that criminalizing abortions does not stop abortions – it just makes it less safe. 


Freddie Gray And The Impact On Baltimore

Freddie Gray was arrested April 12th, 2015. Court documents claimed that Gray, “fled unprovoked upon noticing a police presence.” After Gray was apprehended an ‘illegal’ switchblade (which was actually totally legal) was found on his person and he was placed in the back of a police van “on his stomach, head first.” Gray asked multiple times for medical assistance, but was refused each time by law enforcement.

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A Heroic Change

 

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A Powerful POSEition

 

The Scene is Set

Our group chose the issue of the lack of representation of minority groups in comic books and how that can affect the readers. This includes people of color, women, individuals of all shapes and sizes, and the LGBTQ+ community. To complete this project, our group held a table at the Commons Mainstreet where students could come over and hear what we had to say. To attract more people, we had a large cardboard cut out of Groot (as seen in attached photos), a large collection of comic books provided by Mehr, and free merchandise from a local Baltimore comic book store called Cosmic Comix.

Our group invited people to the table and attempted to create a discussion and raise awareness and like any activist, we collided with negative comments, arguments from people we thought would be on our side, and differing opinions. Continue reading