Media, society and transgender people


At a time when transgender issues have become more accepting, from Laverne Cox on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” and Caitlin Jenner, the movie released on Nov. 27,  “The Danish Girl,” is bound to get a lot of public attention.

Director Tom Hooper and Producer Anne Harrison tackle a subject matter that hasn’t fully been explored in mainstream movies. The film tells the true story of Einar, a painter who struggles with his identity in Copenhagen, 1926. Over time Einar transforms into his female alter ego, Lili Elbe, a woman who he and his wife dreamed up. Einar learns that he prefers to be in her body and struggles to find a doctor to have her cured.

Lili Elbe is one of the first-known trans women to undergo gender confirmation surgery. Viewers see her transformation and the consequences that come with it. The audience will get a grasp on the realities and politics of the early 20th century, when transgender people were considered abnormal or to have a medical condition.

Eddie Redmayne, the main character, had much difficulty getting into Lili’s role, as he wasn’t initially aware of the struggles of transgender people. The Los Angeles Times stated that he said, “In 31 states, you can still be fired for being transgender. The violence to trans women of color is confounding.”

In 2012, 53 percent of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women. The majority were transgender women of color, according to GLAAD, an organization that promotes cultural change. As Redmayne learned more about his role with the help of the transgender community, he realized the importance for the issue to be on the big-screen.

Critics in the LGBTQ community have complained about the lack of courage in having Lili’s role go to an actor who identifies with the gender assigned at birth. The Hollywood Reporter also complained by saying that people would have preferred a more adventurous approach to the story, especially since the “transgender representation has taken over from gay rights as the next equality frontier.”

Although some might argue the movie is coming out a little too late, I believe that it is the perfect time since the recent legalization of gay marriage and Jenner’s high-profile gender transition. The film will bring people an understanding of what the transgender transition process is like.

While the movie may be one step forward for the public to gain insight, I also believe that there should be other methods that people can learn about the community. If it weren’t for taking University of Miami’s gender studies course, I would not understand LGBTQ because I would only know about it from what I see on social media. The media mostly displays the physical transformation that people go through, causing viewers to misunderstand what happens psychologically.

The New Yorker stated that in a survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41 percent of transgender respondents said they had attempted suicide. It is facts like these that should be brought to the public spotlight so people can learn from places other than celebrities and movies about the difficulties of being transgender.

UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the United States. Yet according to a GLAAD’s poll, only 8 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. As movies and media presence of trans people is advancing, it is time that policies and acceptance towards them are, too.

Hoverboard grows in popularity


Hoverboards, Rideables, Swagways, no matter the name, they are a new rising fame.

The hands-free, two-wheel model is No. 1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list. Most boards can be bought online for a cost ranging from $400 to $1,800.

Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Jamie Foxx promote the boards on their social media. It’s the latest must-have gadget and people are riding them in malls, to classes and even on public roads.

The futuristic transportation device is favored by the younger generation, but as parents and retirees begin to show interest, more and more property owners are banning them. Now they are also becoming illegal in certain areas of the world.

The state of New York does not consider them motor vehicles so they cannot be registered. They are illegal, according to the New York City Police Department and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. People riding them in public can receive a fine that is up to $500.

The New York Times stated that the police department at the University of California, Los Angeles does not allow Hoverboards on walkways and hallways because people have complained about collisions.

California will have a new law effective on Jan. 1 The electric-powered boards will only be allowed on bike lanes and pathways. The law requires riders to be at least 15 and wear the same protection that is mandatory when riding a bike.

Customs and patrol officers at Los Angeles International Airport handcuffed the American rapper, Wiz Khalifa when he was riding his Hoverboard. On Twitter, he claimed that he was handcuffed because he refused to get off his transporter when zooming around in the airport.

British authorities also declared the boards illegal to ride in public. Legislation considers them vehicles that cannot be driven on sidewalks and the road. The BBC says that they are banned under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 for use on public pavements and roads in the UK. The only place they are legal is on private property with the owner’s consent.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, Target is reducing the price of the Hoverboard by $100. However, as more places ban where they can be ridden, will consumers continue to purchase this Christmas list must have?

Worst European terrorism in a decade


At least 129 people have died from an ISIS attack, according to Paris city officials.

Terrorists staged attacks at six locations throughout Paris late Friday. These places consisted of the Bataclan concert venue, the Stade de France, Petit Cambodge Cambodian restaurant, the Le Carillon bar, Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, and La Belle Equipe bar.

At least 368 people were injured in the attacks, leaving seven terrorists killed. The dead attackers who have been identified by officials are 28-year-old Samy Animour, 20-year-old Bilal Hadfi, 25-year-old Ahmad Almohammad, Omar Ismail Mostefair, Brahim Abdeslam, and Salah Abdeslam. Abdelhamid Abaaoud who organized the attacks was announced dead early Wednesday. Authorities have said that they believe at least one suspect is still on the loose.

French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency across France. People’s movements are now limited, there are imposed zones of security and border controls are tightened. Hollande said that he would like the state of emergency in place for three months.

The aftermath of Friday’s attack led to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve saying that Paris mobilized 115,000 security forces. There have also been multiple raids and airstrikes over Raqaa, the Ismalic State’s de facto capital.

On Tuesday, France also sought a clause in the Treaty on European Union that obliges other member states to provide it with aid and assistance. All of the 28 member states agreed.

Nations find themselves frightened as ISIS released a video promising more attacks. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. capital are increasing security as the terrorist group mentioned targeting Washington.

George Washington University student Sarah Albright says, “I’m scared to see what will happen next. It’s hard for people to just continue their every lives when there is so much fear inside of us.”

Missouri students vs. President Wolfe


Student and faculty protests have come to an end after University of Missouri’s President Timothy Wolfe resigned on Monday.

The school’s distress over how the president has responded to racist incidents on campus has caused Wolfe to step down. Protesters say there have been a series of bias events that the president did not take seriously.

For example, in early October, at the Homecoming Parade, Wolfe avoided the student group, Legion of Black Collegians. Activists say he was dismissive to them regarding the homecoming rehearsal, when a white man interrupted their meeting and used racial slurs. Later that month, another incident occurred, someone used human feces to create a swastika on a wall in one of the residence halls.

Recently, graduate student, Jonathan Butler, held a publicized hunger strike, saying that he would not eat until Wolfe was out of office. On Saturday the school’s football team, with the coach’s approval, announced that they refused to play until Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike. The football boycott drew national attention, as forfeiting the team’s game would cost the university $1 million.

On Monday, amid escalating protests over the school’s racism and after the Missouri Students Association called for Wolfe’s removal, Wolfe resigned.

The Missouri athletic director, Mack Rhoades, and head football coach, Gary Pinkel, said that all football activities would resume Tuesday.

Click here for a timeline of University of Missouri’s protests.

China ends one-child policy


After 35 years, China’s imposed policy for married couples to have only one child ended on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The decision followed a four-day Community Party summit in Beijing. China’s top leaders debated the fear of an aging population jeopardizing China’s economy. The country’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, announced that all married couples are allowed to have two children.

In the past there were some exemptions to the rule. Since 2013, China’s family planning laws allowed minority ethnic families and rural couples whose firstborn was a girl to have another child. In January 2014, China even allowed couples to have a second child if one of the parents was an only child. However, when the policy didn’t work, there were forced sterilizations, heavy fines, sex-selective abortions and infanticide. While the effort to limit family size resulted in a skewed sex ratio, China said the law had prevented 400 million births.

The increase of the child quota is unlikely to re-balance China’s aging population. Demographers predict that by 2050, 25 percent of China’s population will be over 65 and by 2040 there will be a 1.6-to-1 worker-to-retiree ratio. Many Beijing citizens express reluctance and indifference to the policy because couples in urban areas feel it is too expensive or too much trouble to have another child.

Although the new policy is a liberation of the three-decade-old restriction, fewer people than expected will be expanding their family. What will China do next to stop the aging population?

Step for feminism, leap for womankind


Thanks to women in the media and the strength that their voices have on the public, 2015 has been a year of growth for female power.

It started with Beyoncé’s definition of feminism in her hit song, “Flawless,” and later led to the world listening to Emma Watson’s HeForShe project, and learning about Malala Yousafzai’s courage.

Key figures such as Amy Poehler, Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift and even men like Joseph Gordon-Levitt have publicly declared themselves as feminists. However, announcing yourself as one does not nearly go as far as actually doing something about it.

Recently, Lena Dunham, writer of HBO’s series, Girls, has created the Lenny Letter. Dunham and her Girls’ writing partner, Jenni Konner, share an email-formatted newsletter that consists of interviews and topics of discussion on feminism.

Just last week, 25-year-old, Oscar winning, Jennifer Lawrence contributed to Lenny Letter by including her own blog post. She had come out in complaint that she was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle. She explained that while her male counterparts, like Bradley Cooper, had succeeded in negotiating powerful deals; she was worried to do the same because she was too focused on seeming nice.

She stated, “I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”

Lawrence didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled,” like the qualities that are automatically given to women when they try to assert their opinion. She continued, “I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight.”

More feminist changes are taking place as celebrities in the public eye are publicizing what they are doing to lower female social constructions. The world is beginning to look a bit brighter, who knows, soon enough Congress might even pass a law to ensure that women and men doing the same work are paid equally.

Planned Parenthood funding at risk


Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides health care services to women across the U.S. After months of focus on the organization, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act was made.

A 241-187 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 18 put an end to the federal funding of Planned Parenthood for a one-year period. Republicans say that in the meantime more investigations will be made and any funding will be redirected to clinics that do not offer abortions.

An undercover graphic video was released that shows Planned Parenthood violate federal laws. In the video, the Center for Medical Progress, a group that calls themselves citizen journalists, show Planned Parenthood allowing the sales of fetal tissues for profit and restricting certain abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood denies the wrongdoings and that any of their profits are to cover transportation costs.

Another bill was passed Friday, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bill imposes criminal penalties – a maximum of five years in prison and fines — on medical personnel who don’t attempt to aid infants born after an attempted abortion.

President Obama has threatened that he would veto both bills. Overriding Obama would require 67 votes, something that Republican leaders don’t have. The fight over Planned Parenthood funding could cause a government shutdown by Sept. 30. This is also the last date that Congress has to authorize funding to keep the government running.

Kardashians take over app world


Kardashian and Jenner sisters, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie, have launched individual lifestyle iOS apps and brand new websites. As of Sept. 14 fans get a deeper look of behind the scenes content and tips that correspond to each of the sisters’ passions.


Above and below, a look inside Kylie Jenner’s app.

Fans lives will immediately be Kardashified once they download the app. The first seven days are free with a subscription for $2.99 per month. Fans get total access to live streaming videos, beauty tutorials, motherhood tips, workout routines and the ability to purchase similar outfits for cheaper prices.

The “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” stars introduce each of their sites with a unique short video. In Kim’s, the star says, “Hey guys, it’s Kim. My new app is full of so many amazing new features I can’t wait for you to see. There are makeup tutorials with members of my glam team, exclusive behind the scenes videos, and never-before-seen photos of me, my friends and family. I’ll also be able to live stream and answer all your questions, and there’ll be lots of fun fashion and beauty content. I can’t wait to see you soon!”

IMG_3461The Kardashian and Jenner social media domination continues. The sisters even gave a tech talk at the Apple Store in New York City’s Soho on Monday, Sept. 14.. In the midst of Fashion Week, the sisters shared advice on running social media accounts and talked about their individual projects.

Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TV and the tabloids are already filled with Kardashian related content, get ready to see how Kris Jenner and the apps produced by Whalerock Industries will set aside from what’s already out there.

As of Sept. 15, Kylie’s app landed the No. 1 among all free apps.