Thoughts

The Power of Words -A Look at Cyberbullying

With the advance of technology it has become so incredibly easy to access the internet from almost any part of the globe. I don’t even need a physical computer anymore; I am writing this blog post from my cell phone. It really is an incredible thing.

However today I’m discussing a more serious issue, an issue that is made, unfortunately, considerably more easy because of technology. I wanted to write about bullying, and even more specifically the rise of cyberbullying.

Stopbullying.gov defines cyberbullying as:

“Bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”

Generally when discussing statistics or stories about cyberbullying we think of children in schools, but many adults face cyberbullying as well. A Pew Research Study survey found that almost 75% of American Adults have witnessed online harassment, with 40% reporting to be the victim of it. These are not low numbers.

Sometimes it can seem harmless enough. A picture shared, a simple joke among friends. Many times I have seen a topic joked about simply because the person is uncomfortable about it, or doesn’t understand or agree with it.

This is a dangerous place to find yourself. Putting someone else down for your own amusement is far from pleasant, it is extremely hurtful.

As a Transgender woman, I am not immune from this. It is so easy to attack people that you will never meet, and it is not fun. I am constantly being attacked for who I am, and have even received death threats. I am not going to lie, sometimes it is overwhelming.

Lately I’ve noticed an increased number of “memes” (image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied/shared and spreads rapidly via the internet) that involves a picture of someone that does not conform not “traditional” beauty standards. These images are hurtful. I know that several people on my own friends list will read this and roll their eyes. They will say that I’m either overreacting, or that people get their feelings hurt too easily.

I beg to differ, though. I think more people should be offended by things like this. Our society puts such a pressure on conforming and looking/behaving a certain way- way too much. Imagine then, if you already have such low self-esteem because you do not feel as though you fit in, and find out your image was used as a JOKE on the internet?

Cyberbullying does not limit itself to image alone. Many people in the LGBT community struggle with attacks and many minorities and people of color (poc) do as well.

It is easy to sit behind your computer, or your cellphone and type out hurtful words and threats when you don’t have to look that person in the eye.

4,400 people between the ages of 10 and 24 kill themselves each year because of bullying. This is both terrifying and PREVENTABLE.

Please think about your words and actions. They are not trivial, and can have a lasting affect on the people around you. Your harmless joke may be painful and hurtful towards someone else.

If you are a victim of cyberbullying, or threatened in any way please get help. I have included some links below. Reach out. You are not alone.

~Megan~

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:      1-800-273-8255

CyberBully Hotline: 1-800-420-1479

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

To Write Live On Her Arms

We Belong

I debated writing a blog post about the Military Ban President Trump tweeted about on Wednesday, July 26th- but honestly, what is the point?

I am not saying that it is not something that should be discussed, not at all! I think it is an important issue and it desperately needs to be addressed before people get hurt. What I mean is that the problem isn’t going to be addressed by a blog post, it goes too deep and too wide to be covered and handled that way.

The problem I am discussing is this idea that Transgender people are a burden and a disruption to society. In one single blow, (or rather three small tweets) the president was able to invalidate Transgender lives, and undermine the progress we have been making.

By claiming we are a burden on society it is now in the minds of cishet Americans that they shouldn’t have to accept us, or think of us as human beings because we are a “problem”. This erasure and demeaning attitude will cost lives if it is allowed to continue.

Transgender people are NOT burdens. We are simply people trying to survive in a world that has shown us repeatedly that they believe us to be lesser beings. We are not a disruption to society because we exist, we are a disruption to society because we provide a nice scapegoat for an administration that is trying to alleviate some of the attention on him caused by his dealings with Russia.

I made a new friend today. She was a Marine who proudly served our country. She came out as a Transgender woman after leaving the service- THIS is who Trump is trying to say is a burden on society- someone who fought for our rights and freedoms.

I am disgusted with the amount of hateful trolls that have come out of the woodwork since this was announced. Oh, I know that they existed before, and that they thought this way already- but now they are validated by the man they elected into office.

I am not in the military, nor will I ever enlist because of reasons that are my own. That being said, this ban will affect all Transgender and gender non conforming people in the near future, if it is not already. Why? If those people who have put their lives on the line are not safe, not protected- not RESPECTED for their service, how long do you think it will be before Civilians are targeted as burdens and disruptions?

I am not trying to make something out of nothing. I am not trying fear tactics, or spreading inflammatory rhetoric. I am simply trying to state that Transgender people have a right to exist freely and openly- without the contempt and having to endure the painful and damaging thoughts of those who think we do not deserve to exist.

We are not Burdens. We are not disruptions. We exist- and we BELONG.

~Megan~