Category Archives: Op/Ed

Why Is This Even Being Suggested?? It’s 2017!!

Have you seen this?  I found it to be absolutely chilling that someone would even suggest this in this point in history!

Betty Price Wonders If People With HIV Should Be Quarantined

“What are we legally able to do?” the Georgia state lawmaker and wife of former HHS head Tom Price asked during a committee hearing this week.

I can appreciate an off the wall thought process because I have an odd thought process as well (thank you ADD).  But to come off with such a horrific idea and then share it publicly… damn.   Usually, when someone is spewing bullsh*t off the top of their head, a.k.a. Freudian slips, it’s a good indicator of their character.

I thought that we Americans learned our lesson about internment camps and concentration camps but apparently, I was wrong unfortunately

This woman needs to be educated, a lot and fast. Representatives as, well as those in governance in this country should have common sense and they should be intelligent enough to  A) Think their ideas out before spewing them as soon as it hits their brain and B) Should have enough intelligence and understanding of basic human rights to do the job of representing their constituents and not aspiring to be babysitters or zookeeper.

Afterall that’s why we have elections, debates, etc. to weed out the idiots and the extremists.  Then again the last election totally blew that theory out of the water.  That’s number 14.  Go down the list and see how many you can check off because I got 14/14.

I have been saying for years that our country was leaning more and more towards fascism, and it is more and more visible as time goes on.  Just last week there was something that made it seem as though if they get their way, we’ll be wearing rainbow patches instead of yellow six-pointed Stars of David to single us out, and frankly since we already wear them anyway as a a way to show pride and solidarity, so we’re pretty easy to spot.

I pray that there will be a day when our government will stop bullying people

I wish you all peace and prosperity,                                            Maggie ॐ

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Yes, #metoo

To my fellow #metoo survivors, I am so thankful to have met you and have been witness to your strength. Without uttering a word, we both know what the other has suffered at the hands of others. Knowing that we have this commonality, while not something to celebrate, truly is a gift. Few can truly understand, and many, no matter how close to us they are, will never share that commonality and understanding that you and I and too many others do.

This is such an awkward time. There are so many who support us and stand up for us even if they don’t know our names or faces, who “celebrate” this scandal as a victory of sorts, uncovering the ugly secrets from the back of the Hollywood closets and recognize that open communication and solidarity are the only things that can keep this plague of systemic abuse at bay.

#MeToo: Harvey Weinstein case moves thousands to tell their own stories of abuse, break silence

They’re right, but sadly no matter how much we appreciate their support, what they don’t realize is that as this story stays in the forefront, all of us…even without thinking about one single detail of our own incidents, are drowning in the flood of emotions that come with it. Some might call it empathy, however, I think PTSD is a more apt description. We’re left trying to stay on our feet while these waves come crashing against us, furiously trying to keep our head up and not get pulled down by the undertow.

So for those of you who see #metoo, we thank you for your support even though we might not be able to say it just yet, and please know that your support will help in our healing.

I wish you peace and prosperity, 

Maggie ॐ

The Quiet Hero

Despite Diagnosis McCain Returns to Senate Floor for Critical Debate and Subsequent Vote on Healthcare Bill

This is a man I respect and admire. He was not my choice for president but that had more to do with his running mate and his oppositions platform, but that had no bearing on my respect for him. To go through the hell he did as a tortured POW for several years, to take all that time healing both physically and as much as he could mentally, only to continue a life of service to this nation and its people…. That is someone to be admired and revered.

Not long ago I, like many of you, were watching the senate hearings and saw Senator McCain acting a bit out of character and became genuinely concerned, commenting to several people that I felt that something was wrong with him, he wasn’t acting right. The man is sharp as a tack and always on his game and he seemed almost sedated.

Then to hear about his health diagnosis just broke my heart. My prayers go to him and his family. His daughter was quoted that while they were all devastated with the news, the one who was calm and consoling everyone else was him.  That somehow doesn’t surprise me.

This man has once again been handed the shitty end of the stick in life and instead of immediately turning inward overwhelmed with what this means to him and his family and to spending whatever quality time he has to look forward to with his family, no that’s not his focus, not yet at least.   Instead, he’s returning to the floor to fight the good fight for the 23 million good, hard-working people of this nation who will not have the means to pay for treatment for a broken arm, their children’s vaccinations,  much less to pay for treatment for a cancer diagnosis like he has been.

Stop here and read that again, let that sink in.  Because it truly is mind-blowing to think about this in context.

How many of us would continue our duty and make it a continued priority in his situation? The answer is more than we realize. Maybe not because we want to or because we feel a higher calling or purpose, but because we have to. Yes, we take pride in our jobs and our contribution to our communities, but the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans get up and go to work each day, with pain, with a bleak prognosis, working 2 and 3 jobs, because we have to.  Because we have to pay the bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over our family’s heads.  And through all that, we hope that we can continue to have the medical care we need to make it through… another year, another month, another week, or just one day at a time because more than that is too much to bear.

I don’t use the word hero very often; as a matter of course, I find the word to be grossly overused.  However today I will say it here and mean it with every fiber of my being.  Senator John McCain is an American hero, his military service goes without saying, but for his unwavering service and dedication to his constituency, and his commitment to this great nation of ours.

I can only hope that his actions will humble and continue to inspire his co-workers to stand up for the people they have been sent to represent. Senator McCain is the man showing those in power and reminding all of us just how to make America great again.  It’s the word we’ve been looking for for a while now but it wasn’t in any of the sound bites.

“Make America great again” shouldn’t be a slogan or a brand, it’s an action and one that many of us have forgotten how to do or neglected to demand from our representatives. It’s done by standing up not just for those who stood in the polling lines for your party, but for all the people who should have representation.

The men and women who have been working to make America great again do so by reminding us of words and phrases describing what made the American people the greatest in the world… words like honor, loyalty, integrity, pride, work ethic, vision, community, melting pot.

It doesn’t have to be done on a battle field on the other side of the world for it to count. It can be done on the other side of the classroom or a coffee counter,  by donating or volunteering, by looking out for your neighbors, bartering for services, supporting local businesses, by showing pride in your community and making it a better place to be,  and not just in one place where everyone can, but in all areas of our lives, great and small.

To learn more about John McCain, click here.

Namaste` ~ Maggie ॐ

 Let’s Make It Fair Across The Board And Give A Hand Up

This is another blog post that I made about ten years ago that I had tucked away on another server.  I thought it was time to dust it off.


I agree there’s a need for low-income housing in this country but I’m not sure that we’re going about it the right way.  With the exception of the elderly or the permanently disabled, I’m of the opinion that subsidized housing should be a vehicle to help until you’re ready to move to a better position.  Instead it tends to permanent placement.

A recent local television news story highlighted how an upscale apartment complex was about to have a new complex built next to them.  The two complexes would be virtually similar but one would be subsidized.  The “powers that be” assured folks that it would be nice and modern and not “look like” low-income housing so that no one could complain about depreciating property values.  How angry would you be, paying maybe $1000 a month for your apartment knowing that someone now could get virtually the same apartment in the same neighborhood for less than $200?  I know I’d be livid!

Also, what’s the motivation for the person in the $200 apartment to work hard, gain job skills and advance their income only to be in the same place at several times their current cost?  It’s not fair to either party.  It’s also not fair to the taxpayers knowing that the difference in rents is not markup or profit margin for the landlord but rather the bill is being paid by taxpayers in the form of higher taxes. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time paying my own bills without having to pay someone else’s.

I’m of the opinion that percentages are fair.  For example, sales taxes are fair, you pay according to what you spend and everyone pays proportionally.  Flat taxes are disproportionate.  A $500 fee will crush the person making $300 a week but would be only irritating or inconvenient to the person with a 6-figure income.

The housing market in this country is completely based on paying per square foot, in both the commercial and residential markets.  So I think that (again with the exception of the elderly and the permanently disabled) we should make an effort to build smaller housing.

If we’re paying by the square foot, then there shouldn’t be the need (or as much of a need) to subsidize to create affordable housing.  The smaller the housing, the more efficient you make it… Solar power, smaller, more energy efficient appliances, all keeps utility bills low or nonexistent, so there’s less/no need to subsidize them either.   Provide wifi in the cost so that residents still have ample opportunities for schooling, work, etc. especially for folks with children.

Make sure it’s functional and efficient and if you want more room to spread out, then you work harder to make more money so that you can afford a bigger place.   No entitlement, you work and you earn, then you get because you deserve.  Principals that this country was founded on that we need to get back to.

Unfortunately (and I was guilty of this too) a young person often feels that they should continue to live in the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to while living with their parents, not realizing that this should be their goal, but it’s not owed to them.  Their parents live that way because they’ve worked hard to achieve it.  Sadly, this sense of entitlement causes a lot of heartaches because it’s not readily achievable.  It sets people up for failure.  We need to teach people that you start small and get as big as you’re willing to work and save.

Many people look at Tiny Houses and shake their head, but I know when I lived in a homeless shelter I would have LOVED to have one of these to live in, and I know that many others I was with would have as well.

Imagine a homeless shelter being replaced with a “subdivision” of Tiny houses.  You could easily put 100 of them in just a couple of acres. And in the process help people get re-established so they can work their way back up instead of dealing in depression and anxiety at the overwhelming situation they’re in.  The ability to have a place your own, to keep what few treasured possessions you have, privacy, dignity.  That people can make or break someone.


Places like Hong Kong and Japan have limited space with large populations.  It’s not uncommon for people to live in 300 sq. ft. apartments with all their necessities.   Utilizing their models, not only could we offer affordable housing to more of our citizens but we’d also be able to house more people in less space.  Imagine being able to take a current apartment complex and tripling or quadrupling the number of people that can live there. You now have the potential to reduce waiting lists, people living in cars and living on the streets because they have nowhere to turn without warehousing or supporting them in the process.

26 crazy pictures of micro-apartments around the world

Helping people, not only those who need affordable housing, but also the taxpayers who can’t handle the financial burden anymore while motivating folks to work for what they want in life.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Maggie

My Epiphany For Social Change

I want to precursor this by letting you know that I actually wrote this about 10 years ago.  It’s just as relevant now as it was then.  I probably should have sent it to the White House as a petition.

If any of you have any ideas or connections to make this happen, or make it better, by all means, let me know and feel free to share this.

A little back story… My ex-husband (Kid’s biological father) was ordered to court when she was 5 so we could start receiving child support.  He never responded to or complied with court information requests for job and income information.  The child support order was written based on minimum wage (which was $4.25 at the time).  Truly, each time there was a minimum wage increase I should have gone back to court to have it adjusted.  I, however, didn’t feel it worth the time since he wasn’t paying it anyway.

President Clinton signed into law a bill making it a felony to flee the state to avoid paying child support.  Shortly afterward, I discovered that he moved to Kentucky.  I called child support enforcement and was told that they couldn’t go after him because even though we were separated we were still legally married.  (I was not able to collect government assistance including him in our ranks however because we didn’t live together.  See a little problem there?  I know I did.)

Fast forward our story to about 3 years ago.  All of a sudden I start receiving small child support checks.  To this day I’m not sure if a) he just ran out of under the table jobs, b) he finally stayed at a job long enough for the support order to kick in or c) lost track of time and thought she was too old to have to pay child support somehow thinking it goes away when they get older.

The checks lasted a couple of months (every two weeks) before child support finally issued me one of their new debit cards.  Then the payments stopped.  Over the next year, I would get one randomly here or there before they stopped again altogether.

Well these sporadic payments triggered an audit and I was required to go to court several times and of course, he never showed up.  After almost 14 years of non-support and arrearages of over $20,000 (remember, this was based on $4.25 an hour) child support they decided that it was the time that an arrest warrant was issued and that he should go to jail.

I asked the attorney when he goes to prison does the state pay the support on his behalf?  No.  So let me get this straight… he hasn’t willingly contributed to the raising of his daughter at any opportunity, he owes me over $20K and now I have to support him during his incarceration via my tax dollars???  In addition, when he gets out of prison he’ll have a record making it even more difficult for him to get a job?  How does this help me, our daughter, him, anyone really?

I know that mine is not the only side of the coin on this issue.  I know that many “deadbeats” are classed as such, not because they don’t want to take care of their kids but because they can’t.  Poor job markets, unfair support orders (ones favoring the child/ren with the ex but not factoring in the children living with you because you don’t have a support order for them since they live in your home), support orders that don’t allow enough left in your check for you to live on but if you get a second job they’ll take that too, etc…

So here’s the epiphany… open the draft to “deadbeat parents” after say, one year of non-support.  Don’t wait for 5, 10, 15 years for things to get so out of control.  Here’s my reasoning…

By being drafted into the military, the draftee’s pay is based on the number of dependants guaranteeing that all parties are covered and no one is getting the short end of the stick.

All parties would be covered by insurance.  Sadly, even if an employer does offer insurance the cost is even more prohibitive when you have child support being deducted from your pay.  In addition, life insurance is also part of the package making sure that your child will continue to be taken care of on your behalf should something happen to you before they reach 18.

Being in the military is recession proof as well as lazy proof.  You can’t get laid off or fired.  Your job will never be outsourced and your hours will never be cut.

Being in the military is salaried position so there are no fluctuations in pay making it difficult to pay a set support amount if you miss a days work.

Being in the military will offer the opportunity for you to learn a trade and/or go to college.  Most Americans can’t afford to go back to college once they take on the financial responsibilities of a family.  This tends to add to the frustration because this is where we truly see the value of an education at its fullest as an adult. We now “get it” that we need the degree to get the better job to better support our families.  The military allows you to do both without you or your family starving and/or becoming homeless.

I realize this is a two-sided coin.  There are those that would find the miliary as a deterrant and that’s fine.  Do what you have to do to keep from being drafted.  For others out there, this would be a welcome solution and a means to get on track as opposed to prison which will have negative ramifications for the rest of your life.  By and large I believe this could be the most proactive step our country could take to reform a system that isn’t working.

Please give me your feedback and let me know what you think.  If you really like the idea, share it with others – including people in position to make change.

Maggie

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prose – Original Art by Maggie Valera

I looked it up on Google Maps and the historic Stonewall Inn is just 7.1 miles from my childhood home. On my 3rd birthday in the summer of ’69, after I was well asleep in my bed the grown folks were enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer night, history was about to be changed forever.   A poorly planned police raid would be the catalyst that changed our world, kicking off the visibility of the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

What started as a 1 a.m. raid, grew exponentially as word got out and continued to grow throughout the day.  By the evening, June 28th, 1969 would be remembered forever as the day that Pride day was born and though the Stonewall riot was credited to transwomen Sylvia Rivera and Martha P. Johnson, it was only recognized as a “gay movement” for a very long time.

We thankfully as things have progressed, our Rainbow Tribe has expanded the recognition of who makes up our family and as being inclusive in Pride and the equality movement.  We are LGBTQIA -Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. And while yes, the word queer traditionally has been used only in derogatory connotations, the community has retaken the word for our own purpose as a catchall to make an inclusive reference to the community.

 See:  LGBTQ Terms and Definitions

Trans folks are anyone who doesn’t fully identify with their “assigned gender at birth” based on our visible genitalia. I say visible because many intersex children are born appearing as boys, but will, later on, be found to have female sex organs discovered.  Intersex is an umbrella term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Sadly, many parents opt to have their children surgically altered so that they don’t have to “explain” to others that their son is “different”.  Ironically it’s medically easier to have their son become their daughter, but of course, that leaves that awkward part for parents to explain that their child is beautiful, loved and a blessing.  Thankfully the trend is changing and parents are allowing their child to grow up, without being forcibly mutilated so they can decide how to proceed as they get older.

See:  What Is Intersex?

I identify as genderqueer/genderfluid. Genderqueer is the word describing someone who doesn’t fully identify as a girl/woman or boy/man. While I was born as a member of the female sex because of my plumbing and sex organs, I have never really identified as a girl. I was called a tomboy growing up and that didn’t sit right with me either and I knew I wasn’t a boy.

Genderfluid becomes even a bit more confusing because sometimes I feel very feminine, usually brought out by someone around me that is very masculine, other times I feel more masculine, I carry myself differently, my demeanor is more forward. Other times I’m just me… no discernible gender, just me.

What It Means When You Don’t Identify as a Girl or a Boy

We’ve all heard of people who feel that they are one gender trapped inside a body with the organs of the opposite sex. However, those of us in that gray area in the middle (and we are the majority in the trans community) have a really hard time figuring ourselves out feeling rather ambiguous and undefinable.

Find out more at It Gets Better.org

These are all new words to me, discovered just a few short years ago at the age of 47. This “label” did not confine me, it freed me. It allowed me to understand parts of myself, my identity, that just didn’t fit anywhere. I now know that I am not alone, and I am not different, I have a community of people who deal with the same things I do. Other people, and probably you know as well, finally have a means of identity.

Gender Variance Around the World Over Time

The best way that I have found to describe being transgender is the body is the sex, and the gender is the soul. And while many argue that “God doesn’t make mistakes”, the fact of the matter is that human bodies do. There is no rule that says that babies are born perfect. They are born with disease, deformities, and various other medical anomalies. That is the human body, it is ruled by science… the science of the genetics passed on to them, the science of their given environment during gestation, etc.

I’m sure that you have seen or met someone with physical issues from birth that leave a child handicapped in one way or another, but that child’s soul is intact. In their head, in their heart, in their smile and personality, you know they are an incredible person, regardless of their issues, or sometimes even in spite of their issue. This is no different.

We’ve all seen variations of the Freaky Friday movies.. It’s always mother and daughter, father and son, and in a favorite of mine starting George Burns, grandfather and grandson. It’s all good for a laugh, when they see their body as different and scream in the mirror, even when Tom Hanks was BIG!   A transgender person sees themselves in the mirror or in the shower the same way, as something very shocking that upsets them greatly, as something possibly deformed and very wrong… like waking up in the wrong body.  An image in the mirror or the shower, that does not match what their perception of how they feel they look.   This is where transgender folks struggle all the time, detesting and disgusted with their physical appearance that no diet or exercise can change.

Learn more about Gender Dysphoria

Hell, think of the kid in A Christmas Story, (“you’ll shoot your eye out!”) when he had to try on that humiliating bunny suit. An odd comparison I know, but surely one we all can identify with, having some moment in our past where we’ve been under the spotlight and bubbling over with anxiety, and feeling uncomfortably self-conscious. Now imagine what it would feel like to be born feeling that way about your body and appearance, without people getting to see or know you for who you are instead of how you look.

And when you try to shed some of those layers, to break free of the prison that confined and tortured you, then you deal with people spewing hate, vitriol, and even violence because you had the audacity to show your true self to them. And not just strangers and acquaintances, people who have been close friends, family members, living in a situation of constant bullying. People who should be supportive and mentoring turn into tormentors.  Parents should never be their child’s first bully, and should not emotional abuse or abandon their child. EVER.

The trans community has a 42% suicide rate, the numbers for self harm are staggering and transgender TEENS make up the make up a lion’s share of this country’s homeless population, left in abject poverty, drugs and both physical and sexual abuse.

It’s time to stop this. You can make a difference. Citizens shouldn’t just be celebrating pride of self and community for only one month a year, and they shouldn’t have to shed any signs of that celebration before traveling home to keep them from deal with harassment, assault, and possibly lose their life.

This country is supposed to be where “all men are created equal”, The Great Melting Pot, yet trans women are beaten and killed every day. We are Americans, we are one and we should all be recognizing that all citizens have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, not just in the area of marriage equality, but in employment, housing, and just being living from day to day. We’re worried from day to day about what can happen to us from outside forces, so we need to band together and not target our own citizens.

Trans Lifeline   US: (877) 565-8860                       Canada: (877) 330-6366

The Trans Lifeline, they are a 24/7 hotline for transgender people in crisis, along with just learning more about about transgender people and related political issues.  And by all means check out some of the other top organizations that work tirelessly to support the queer community.  Consider a donation, a purchase or volunteering in your area!

10 Amazing LGBT Organizations 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and show you care.  Just learning more about the topic enables you to be a strong ally for friends, family and coworkers who are LGBTQIA.  I encourage you to share this with others.   No one can have too many friends or allies.

And to my family members of the LGBTQIA Rainbow Tribe, I love you and we’re going to do this, together.  Let me hear your voices below!

Namaste ~ Maggie ॐ

Before Pride: 13 People Talk About Being LGBTQ In The 1960s

Why are you whispering? Check Them Before You Wreck Them!!

It’s that time of year again, and by that I mean it’s the time for slacktivism in the name of breast cancer. While the games haven’t surfaced (yet), There’s a different one currently going on.  I woke up to see a notification on messenger from my friend’s daughter that said the following:

She sent the words, I made the graphic.

As per my usual stance I had to tell her no because these things make me angry, but assured her that I would get a reminder out.  If you’re new to following me, I must explain that I get really angry with the slactivism.  You see both of my parents died of cancer.  My father died of a mesothelioma (the ones that the attorney’s advertise) and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months later.

She went through months of medication and radiation, constantly in pain from the literal burns to her skin.  6-1/2 years later, and after yet another clean bill of health from her bi-annual checkups from her breast oncologist, we went on the vacation she’d always dreamed of to Alaska. She had fallen getting in and out the boat she boarded to go salmon fishing.  She caught a nice one too, over 2 feet long!


When we got home her shoulder suddenly started getting worse instead of better.  That’s when  they found a spot on her liver.  They did further testing and revealed that a tumor was in her liver and not on it as it appeared initially and was progressing pretty rapidly.   With the confirmation they gave her 4-6 months to live, but she died one month later when the tumor had grown so large that it literally caused her liver to rupture/explode.


Oddly enough her death certificate lists the cause of death, not as liver cancer, but as metastasized breast cancer, meaning that breast cancer returned has spread.  When I questioned this I was informed that any time someone has breast cancer and then dies of cancer, regardless of what type, the death certificate will always list it as metastasized breast cancer.  I always wonder how much the numbers are skewed by that policy since breast cancer is touted to be the biggest cancer risk to women.


Now for those who haven’t been around someone with cancer, there are several forms of treatment, chemo and radiation being to the two biggest.  Radiation therapy causes a burn to the skin that’s like the worst sunburn you’ve ever had. It was brutal, and it hurt her so bad, just putting a t-shirt on was painful and putting on a bra and going to work, much less going to work all day.  Think about working with the worst sunburn you’ve ever had and then multiply it several times.  It can also cause other issues like lumps under the skin (doesn’t that sound like it would be pleasant to add to already wonderful situation.

Chemotherapy is another type of radiation therapy but instead of being topical (directed to the skin from outside the body) it is invasive, meaning taken internally.  And because it’s an invasive therapy, it means that it can have side effects anywhere in the body instead of it remaining in the area targeted like radiation therapy does.  There’s too long of a list for me to cover all the side effects of chemotherapy;  if you’d like to see them and learn more please visit the National Cancer Institute’s Chemotherapy Side Effects series, there are 18 documents in total.

Educating yourself and others is what needs to be done to finally win this battle.  Cancer has claimed *BILLIONS* of lives.  There is nothing to whisper about behind the scenes. Preventing cancer is not in poor taste, it’s not obscene.  For the record not only do men have wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters and daughters who have, have had or possibly will have this and they need to know about this too, men can also get breast cancer.  Tell me the last time you saw a game of tag about that?

So speak up and speak out.  Stop whispering and playing online games, and thinking you’re off the hook because you bought something with a pink ribbon on it in the past 20 years.  We need to save the people, not the tatas.  So please, check them before cancer wrecks them.  If you’re a woman who is sexually active, consider doing it with your partner since chances are they are more intimate with your boobs than you are (or at least they try to be).  The Five Steps of a Breast Cancer Exam

So remember…

 

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

 

P.S.  While we’re talking about it, guys need to be reminded too.