Em-URGE-ing Voices


Posts By: Aleo Pugh

On Free Speech, Discourse and Opinions

Free speech has been a heated and inconclusive source of debate in academia since the 1964 Free Speech Movement started at UC Berkeley. Since then, college campuses across the nation have been influential sites where the status and significance of the First Amendment has been negotiated. With the recognition that marginalized people are excised from political processes, public protest, organizing, and advocacy have been essential forms of resistance and community building, thus legitimizing the multiple global movements behind it. Adversely, free speech has historically been regarded by right-wing politicians such as Reagan and Nixon as a misuse of the Constitution to protect subversiveness — a symbol of judicial excess. This previous rejection of free speech has slowly begun to dissipate as neoconservatives have bastardized free speech and re-oriented it to silence marginalized… Read more »

I Don’t Identify, I Am

As a person who has spent the last few years desperately trying to divorce who I am from who I’ve been taught to be, the role of language in identity formation has become increasingly apparent. It was on a trip during my senior year that I was first prompted to think about the language I used to describe myself. A friend and I were leading a forum on sexuality and gender, and for the ice-breaker, we had folks share their name, pronouns and their gender and sexuality if they felt comfortable. As more people shared and we moved around the circle, a pattern quickly became visible. Every person who wasn’t cisgender or heterosexual qualified their chosen terms with “identify.” Meanwhile, cis hetero folks would just say “I am ______” and… Read more »

Beyond Hate: Why Racism Kills

Racism is heavily misinterpreted. Aside from determined chants from neo-liberals that racism is soon to expire, there is also a tendency to eclipse the nuanced nature of racism to make it purely about intentional, violent acts motivated by malice. This reconfiguration is typically done by white folks who have a particular interest in monopolizing and defining racism. Beyond the obvious Social Justice 101 error of explaining over folks who actually negotiate with racism and white supremacy, it policies people of color’s invocation of racism and white supremacy to “appropriate” scenarios. What usually constitutes an experience that can rightfully be defined as racist is a base level of extremity and outlandishness – an experience so severe and vitriolic that it is undeniably racist, but even here is an undertone of paternalism…. Read more »

No More Queer Confessions: “Coming Out” vs. “Letting In”

The recent passing of National Coming Out Day on October 11 marks the 28th anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. As stated by the Human Rights Campaign, the significance of the day lays in recognizing “…one of our most basic tools [as] the power of coming out” (HRC). With “one out of every two Americans [knowing] someone close to them who is gay or lesbian” and one in ten for transgender people, the perks of coming out are that it grants queer communities visibility, increases the number of average Americans who can begin familiarizing themselves with queer people, closes gaps of estrangement and, ideally, creates new advocates of equality. Coming out for me, however, has always presented a complex tension, proving less celebratory than… Read more »

Not Just Water: Standing Rock & Tribal Sovereignty

Shailene Woodley, also known as Shailene Would she be talking about this if it didn’t make her trend on Facebook? Was arrested last Monday for criminal trespassing at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests. While the conflict over the pipeline has surfaced relatively recently, it has been opposed by the The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with 100 other tribes in the U.S and Canada since its initial proposal in 2014. The pipeline, intending to more cheaply accommodate the transport costs associated with moving crude oil from Illinois poses severe problems for the reservation’s 8,000 occupants, threatening public health and welfare, water supply and cultural resources. Less than a half mile from the reservation’s border, the pipeline threatens the reservation’s source of clean drinking water, provided mainly by the Cannon Ball… Read more »

Uncertainty is OKAY: On Gatekeeping & Transitioning

Growing up, I vaguely knew of trans people from their routinely featured roles on Jerry Springer, yet quickly became familiar with them through their public denigration, references, and comments leaving my family’s mouth unfiltered. It wasn’t until one of my many excursions across Youtube, desperately seeking advice on how to tell my family of my own truth, that I came across an FTM coming out video. Simultaneously amazed and perplexed, I continued watching these videos, convinced that my interest lay solely in learning their stories. A consistent theme in many of the coming out videos I watched was how seamless arriving at the decision to start hormone replacement therapy (hrt) was for them, though not always immediate, eventually feeling 100%, undoubtedly comfortable. I continued to watch these videos, hoping that something would spark the… Read more »

5 Tired Microaggressions Trans People Are Tired of Hearing

I realized that I was trans when I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. Prior to then, I was mostly occupied with uncovering my sexuality, which was further complicated by my false idea that gender and sexuality are two inextricable elements, rather than two independent–but frequently –intersecting identities. Although I didn’t truly let my trans flag fly until my senior year, I have been open about my identity (in varying degrees) for years, meaning that people around me have had plenty of time to come up with uncreative, stale, and expired microaggressions. Here are 5 hella microaggressive comments/questions to never say/ask to trans people! (and if you say them to me, consider yourself cut off :)) 1. It is important to note that a name change does not validate… Read more »

Miss(Cis) Expectations: Pregnancy & Trans Identities

It’s the first week of classes and I’ve already had to defend my decision not to carry children twice.  It happens at least once every year, either from friends, family or well-meaning acquaintances, my insistence that I will never carry is met with disturbed, pity-filled consolations – pity because some assume I am infertile or believe my queerness has jaded my perceptions of pregnancy, and shameful disbelief that I fail to follow my “maternal instincts.” This pity typically morphs into anger or twenty-minute tirades filled with alternative options, as if I have never watched a Laci Green video, or as if my decision is not well-informed and just came overnight. These interactions demonstrate concern at best from commentators, but for me, they demonstrate disrespect towards my identity and autonomy. My first memory… Read more »