Broadly feed for https://broadly.vice.comenWed, 21 Nov 2018 19:07:48 +0000<![CDATA[My Ex Abused Me and Stalked Me. Then I Developed OCD]]>, 21 Nov 2018 19:07:48 +0000Every year, women are killed by stalkers and domestic abusers—despite previously reporting them to the police. Unfollow Me is a campaign highlighting the under-reported issue of stalking and domestic abuse. Follow all of our coverage here.

It’s summer 2017 and I’ve been single for five months. It’s a fairly unremarkable Wednesday: Work has been stressful, and my colleague asks me to grab a quick bite before I cycle home. My phone rings as we leave the building: an unknown number. My colleague says to ignore it. I pick up. It’s him.

“So you’ve just left work. Why aren’t you on your way home?”

“Hang on, where are you?”

“I’m at the phone box outside your flat.”

“How do you know where I am?”

“It says on Happn.”

“How can you see my Happn profile?”

“We matched.”

“No we didn’t.”

“Yes we did, last night. You wanted me to find you.”

“That was you?”

I’m paralyzed in the street, my skin prickling with panic. My colleague mouths “hang up” to me, looking increasingly alarmed. But I can’t.

“I’m waiting by your front door,” he says. “I’m not leaving until you come home.”

Five hours, 36 calls, and hundreds of messages later, my flatmate and I finally re-enter our home after calling his parents to get him to leave. We are welcomed by a bunch of flowers he left on the doorstep. The next morning I call up Paladin, a stalking advocacy service, to ask if I’m being stalked. Their response is an emphatic yes.

A dripping tap is the best metaphor to describe the harassment that I suffered at the hands of my ex. Slow, almost imperceptible at first and easy to dismiss, but over time, increasingly overwhelming and complex to stop. The rot it left behind required expert help to repair. I developed significant psychological damage in the form of a combined diagnosis of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which I still manage with therapy and medication over a year later.

Watch: Unfollow Me: The Story of Meera Dalal

“It is not uncommon for PTSD and OCD to co-occur, and there is growing evidence that cases of OCD may stem from trauma,” clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Orban tells me. “Obsessive compulsive disorder and PTSD share common features such as intrusive thoughts and a need to reduce anxiety by engaging in avoidance and/or ‘neutralizing’ behaviours to suppress distressing thoughts.”

There were red flags in our relationship from the beginning. He broke up with me a few months into our relationship, citing a list of my physical flaws that made him embarrassed to be seen with me in public. I blamed myself. So did he—and he did his best to convince me that my extreme emotions and panic attacks were further evidence of my flawed self, and not of his abusive character.


He started gaslighting me very early on. It started small: We’d have an argument and he’d reference something I’d done or said that I couldn’t remember. Eventually any negative emotion I had was met with anger. Why was I so unbalanced? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I know it was totally fine to ask your partner to “customize aspects of their appearance”—like how I wore my hair, how I dressed, and the shape and size of my breasts? Why was I getting so upset?

Drip, drip.

After two years, when my sense of self had completely eroded and my mental health was in the gutter, I ended things. I had assumed he’d be glad to be rid of someone so flawed. But over the next eight months, his behaviour grew completely and utterly out of control.

Woman writes in her notebook
Photo by Jennifer Brister via Stocksy

It started with emails and texts to my friends. Could they help him to get me back? Then came the calls from phone booths, different workplaces, friends’ phones, family members’ phones, random phones he’d found lying around. There were relentless calls to me, my parents, my friends, and later, to my colleagues, my boss, and even my therapist. I felt completely ambushed.

I blocked his number. I blocked his profiles. I told him not to contact me.

When you’re in a vulnerable mental state, your threshold for believing things that you would ordinarily question is much lower. According to criminal behavior psychologist and Paladin director Laura Richards, this is common: “Stalking unseats you in every way, and stalkers are very adept at making you believe that the problem lies with you.”

On some level, I was aware that his behaviour was verging on dangerous. But I began to doubt myself more and more as the coincidences began mushrooming. When he did manage to get through to me on the phone, he would make casual references to things I was sure that he shouldn’t know. Was it odd timing that he made contact with a mutual friend I hadn’t seen for ages just 12 hours after I saw her? Had I mentioned that I’d shaved three minutes off my five kilometer running time? Or that my relative was staying at mine? Or that I was having work done on the flat?

Drip, drip, drip.

That’s when my obsessing started. I couldn’t remember disclosing any of these details to him since our breakup, but he seemed to know a lot about my life. I made lists and timelines to make sense of my confusion. I compulsively revisited every conversation we’d had. When I’d exhausted all avenues of analysis in my own head, I began checking my perception of reality with people around me. This began with simple stuff like “am I overreacting?” and led to larger questions like, “am I crazy?” and “did that even actually happen?”

I still live with his shadow, and an indelible fear that has completely shaped who I now choose to share my life with and how.

I’m not alone in this. Richards says that it is common for victims to learn to mistrust themselves and others because of the constant heightened alertness required to “see what is coming at you.” This disordered manner of managing my thoughts became my coping mechanism during his stalking. I grew so distressed that I was eventually referred to a psychiatrist who gave me my diagnosis of PTSD and OCD.

“Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that individuals feel they must do in response to the obsessive thought to reduce anxiety,” Orban says. “Research has shown that among those suffering from trauma, compulsions can be a way of coping with traumatic thoughts. These behaviours may work well in the short-term, but are likely to increase anxiety and distress in the long-term.”

The diagnosis enabled me to see his stalking for what it was. I scared him off by threatening to call the police. I have since heard from him only once (he put a card through my door on the one-year anniversary of our break-up), but I still live with his shadow, and an indelible fear that has completely shaped who I now choose to share my life with and how.

The extent of his stalking became much clearer once I gained distance from the situation. My ex stalked me through my apps and hacked into my personal accounts using fake accounts and cached copies of my old passwords. He found out about my social appointments from my Google Calendar, meetings with friends from my Instagram, the details of my jogs from fitness app Strava, and who I was talking to from my email. He knew what I thought about from my Twitter and who I worked with from LinkedIn. It was only once he admitted to stalking me that I realized how much information users willingly share with their followers everyday—information that is also available to would-be stalkers.

“A stalker will use any information available to continue their behavior,” says Richards. The stakes are high—many victims, like me, ending up suffering from post-traumatic stress and associated mental health issues. Her advice is to “share where you’ve been, not where you’re going,” and to explore the security settings on all the platforms you use.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

A year on—thanks to the support of an incredible therapist and great people around me—I am doing better. I have invested time in myself and learned how to look after my mental health—particularly when it comes to managing my OCD. “For individuals with co-morbid PTSD and OCD, targeting PTSD is often key to a successful prognosis. Empirically-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which includes exposure therapy, has been shown to be effective for trauma-related OCD,” Orban says. “If you suspect you have these disorders, know that they are highly treatable and you don’t need to suffer in silence.”

These days I protect my mental health by establishing and enforcing clear personal boundaries in my relationships, and exercise has boosted my self-esteem and helped me rediscover a sense of joy in my own company. But I’ve also had to accept that the fear of hearing from him is always likely to be there, lurking just beyond my field of vision. The greatest thing I learned from this whole ordeal, though, is to trust your instincts: If you think you hear a drip, don’t doubt yourself.

zmd44ySuzannah RiggsZing TsjengPTSDmental healthLifestalkingEssaysessayOCDUnfollow Me
<![CDATA[Sabel Samone-Loreca on Living as a Black, HIV-Positive Transgender American]]>, 21 Nov 2018 18:41:48 +0000This interview is part of Broadly's Trans Legends oral history project. Read more here.

Sabel Samone-Loreca’s journey from being diagnosed with HIV to becoming a leading advocate for people living with HIV/AIDs was long and unlikely. She moved to California in the early 90’s, believing she had just three years to live. But Samone-Loreca survived, and turned her fierce compassion for others into activism. In California, she began a new chapter of her life, founding HIV support groups, and working with ACT UP in San Francisco, while having several groundbreaking moments, like becoming the first transgender person to work at the Children’s Hospital LA, and the first out trans woman to be married in California. Her late husband Luis A. Loreca was a youth advocate, and died from cancer at the age of 35 in 2005. Ms. Samone-Loreca is currently a Supervisor at Community Partners, a barista at Starbucks, and training for NSAM Certified Personal Trainer at EVERYBODY gym in Los Angeles.

BROADLY: Sabel, how did you get your name?

SABEL SAMONE-LORECA: When I lived in Atlanta, I was going by Sable Samone for a show I was doing in town. When I moved to San Francisco, the name just kind of stuck—Sabel. But it was Sable for a long time. When I got to change it, it was a choice between Sable and Sabel. I always thought of “Sable” as the coat, and I was like, No, I don’t to be named after a coat. Sabel would be like a French shortbread cookie. And, “Samone” meant “so beautiful.” So when I was reading about the cookie, I thought about the name Samone. When I talked to my mom, I was like, “This is what I’m gonna change my name to, this is what I’m gonna be called.” And she was like, “Okay.” So the next day, I went and filled out the paperwork.

So, finding your way to being a trans person. Who showed you the way? How did you find a community? Where was it?

Well, I transitioned. I found out about transitioning and hormones in Atlanta. I was probably about 25, and this was about '87. There’s a place there where friends of mine went that got on hormones, but I wasn’t quite ready for it and was still kind of confused about what was going on. When I moved to San Francisco, there was a lot of Latina women that I saw and knew at the clubs, but I never saw anybody that was Black and trans. Most of the girls I knew, they identified as drag queens, and I knew I wanted to go further than that.

That’s around the time I was going through a lot of mental health stuff. I was dealing with having been raped and everything. I was going to a program called WAR (Women Against Rape), and my doctor asked, “What can I do to make your life better? What can I do to make you happy?” I told him I wanted to transition, but I didn’t know what that meant and what that looked like. One day, he made me sit down, and we looked at the computer screen, and we saw seven or eight types of hormones. He wrote me a [prescription] out for every one of ‘em. He said, “Now, as long as you stay clean and you get your shit together, I’ll continue to write you a script.” I have never had a script cancelled.

So, this was a big step in your journey out of addiction and out of the darkness.

Yeah. I was coming out of a domestic relationship. I was coming out of drug addiction. I was coming out of homelessness. Mental health-wise, I was just a wreck. I think a lot of it boiled down to self hate and not knowing how to cope. I did a lot of illegal stuff because of all the stuff I had to cope with and take care of and live and survive, so it was one of those things where, you know, I never wanted to go to jail as a girl.

"Now that you’re she and totally living as her, what does she want? We’ve all had to think about this."

During my recovery stint, I met a woman named Angel. She was from Nashville or somewhere in the South. She was an older trans woman, and she had always kind of been around for everything I was going through in San Francisco. So one day she came in and we sat down and I said, “Look, I’ve done all the paperwork to change my name, I’ve got all this stuff done, and I’m really serious about going through this.” I said, “Angel, could you help me?”

And she said, “You stay in recovery and get yourself together. I’ll help you on the outside spiritually.” She’d come pick me up and take me to church on Sundays, and we would have drinks or we would go have lunch or something, and she was kind of like that main source of what I wanted. Because she had a job, she had her own place. I mean, it wasn’t the best and it wasn’t always pretty, because she hustled to survive, too. But she wasn’t on drugs. She had been on drugs and been through all that, and she had gotten clean and sober. Everything I wanted, she had gone through, and she, you know, she was just on top of it. She was beautiful. She was one of these tall, blonde, bombshell women, and Angel was not to be toyed with! She had much respect in the [Tenderloin District of San Francisco]. And I appreciated that, and I wanted to be like her, you know? I’m grateful I can say I have been like her, and I’ve surpassed that. And I’m quite sure if she was here today, I’d be making her happy. I’m sure I’m making her happy as she looks down upon me.

She was a really big inspiration on what being trans meant to me and what I had, too—because everything we have today, I didn’t have that to look forward to.

Was that in the 90s?

This is like, 95-97-98? I moved to San Francisco in ‘93. And I was probably 27 when I started my transition.

How much did spirituality affect your journey?

Transitioning sounds kinda glamorous and everything, and on one hand it is, but on the other hand, it’s like—I found out really quick, my life was not going to be all sugar-coated chocolate and gummy bears and the rainbow, you know?

I didn’t know many [trans] girls, especially Black girls. I knew a lot of Latina and white [trans] girls, because they were always out, and they were the ones I saw who were doing stuff I wanted to do. I didn’t know what it was with a lot of Black girls, you just didn’t see them. I guess they were doing hair or they lived in Oakland for the most part.

I kinda had to find my own-ness. I always attribute my career start to advocating through the cannabis club, CHAMP [Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems], because they gave me what it was like to be an activist.

I smoked weed all my life. It was one of those things where, not only was it like my medication, but also keeping me mildly steady. Being offered drugs as well, and dealing with all my mental addictions and everything else, it kind of balanced everything out. You know, I can honestly say I’ve gone through every journey in my life on cannabis. And it helped! I told a lot of the girls: I left the hospital bed after having gender surgery, and went straight to the pot club, with the catheter and all! It’s a wonderful thing.

Photo by Bethany Mollenkoff.

What are some other strategies that have gotten you through?

Therapy. One of the things in part of being given all the hormones, my doctor wanted me to go into therapy. And I started therapy because I had moved to LA back in ‘94, and I was raped. It wasn’t a trans thing or a hate thing. It was just a guy, he was raping a girl. I just happened to be what he thought was a girl from behind, and when he realized I wasn’t a girl, he beat the hell out of me and raped me anyway. And the police didn’t help me. They actually told me if I hadn’t been out dressed the way I was, it would’ve never happened to me. And that was the second time in my life being assaulted sexually. The first time, I never dealt with it or talked about it, and I was a kid. The second time, I was just turning 30.

My doctor recommended [a therapist]. From there, because of my transitioning and everything, they recommended I go to—on Van Ness, there was a gender mental health program. It was there I got my own therapist. And it was so good. As a Black person in America, we don’t often think that somebody can help us out mentally. You know, we’ve always been taught that what happens in the house stays in the house. Therapy had never been an option. I learned about having a therapist to just have someone to talk to. And to ramble on to. And that changed my life, [helped me] break my addiction, understand who I was, and what Sabel was becoming—because all I knew was him before, that was trying to find her. But at that point, you kind of make the decision: Who is she? What does she want? Now that you’re she and totally living as her, what does she want? We’ve all had to think about this.

[CHAMP] gave me a job as a group facilitator, to work with other trans women who were HIV positive, who were using cannabis, who had a lot of issues still going on. To have somebody who, when they came to the club, looks like them. It was awesome.

They got me to do harm reduction classes for that point in time. There’s a big thing about harm reduction going on, and there were all these classes you had to take to become a harm reduction specialist. So, from being an activist to taking all those classes and getting certified and getting to understand people and better facilitate groups, I went from that to working with another organization that worked as a homeless shelter. There, I was able to give back and help women that needed a place to say at night and needed somebody to talk to during the daytime. I was able to be that counselor for them there. For me, it was just a progression. Every time I looked up, I got a different job. I was lucky enough to have a center where I was able to give back and be that face in San Francisco—being another trans woman, knowing that she don’t have to walk the street, she can give up drugs, she doesn’t have to worry about all those things they said we couldn’t be. You know, I was at least working, just like my role models. It wasn’t the best; it wasn’t making me the dollars, but I was surviving. It was a good job. It was respectable.

And the other funny, kind of crazy part of it: After all the shit I probably should’ve done jail time for—I figure, this was my way of giving back. I’ve done a lot of shit. I’ve put myself out there, I’ve used myself and taken my life’s journey and helped to make it easy for somebody else. In reality, I didn’t have somebody to show me the way. I did it through trial and error. Like I said, I had a doctor give me several different types of hormones. You know, I was probably overdosing on hormones, when I should’ve had one or two or three, you know? We worked it out.

"Long before Christ, we’ve been around! But you’re gonna try to erase somebody that you never accepted was already here?"

Then, moving to Los Angeles in the midst of everything, I got here and I had all this criteria and all this education, and was just settling in, but it was like coming to a different world. During that time, ‘99, in San Francisco, we were already talking about “transgender this, transgender that,” and [we had] all these programs we were ready to set up for the trans community. I get to LA, and they weren’t talking about it like we were talking about it. We already had rights in San Francisco in ‘99, where trans women were identified as women and were able to go into women’s shelters and stuff like that. I moved here in 2000, and that was unheard of, you know? There were barely places you could go as a trans woman to find a support group. As far as youth goes, children’s hospitals didn’t even have the clientele they have at this point. They didn’t even have that kind of position at that time. Coming here was like coming to a foreign land after San Francisco. It was scary. It was hard.

The thing that’s so incredible about your journey, and the thing that I’ve always admired about you’re always paying things forward. You’re always giving, you’re always showing up, you’re always loving on people. I mean, it’s incredible to think that you have gone through everything you’ve gone through and managed to still be open to the world.

You gotta be! You do. You have to be. I have to believe that. Living out here in LA and being on my own—because I do consider myself pretty much, since my husband passed, to be here on my own. My family’s on the other side of the country, on the East Coast, and I’m on the West Coast. And so, we worry about each other, but I also have been one of those people who, I live my own life my own way. That song, “She Did It Her Way,” they can definitely play that at my service. She did it her own fucking way, as I could! Regardless of, you know, I’ve had some good days and I‘ve had some bad. I’ve had some that are scarier than hell. You know, I’ve had some that I can honestly say, I should not be here on this earth; I should’ve died a few times. And I provide that. More than anything, it gives me that fight. Every day I wake up is a new day, so I need to celebrate it and have as much fun on that day as I can, regardless of how I consider that time. And that’s what keeps me going, because in this political climate, it’s kind of crazy right now.

It’s chaos!

It’s one of those things where the hashtag, #WeWillNotBeErased—how you gonna erase somebody you never accepted no damn way? We have historical proof. We’ve been here long before the 1800s! We’ve been around. Long before Christ, we’ve been around! But you’re gonna try to erase somebody that you never accepted was already here? I’m just confused. But, I mean, as a trans woman, I come from a time period when a lot of girls, we stayed in the house and we stayed in our shelters, until about 8 or 9 o’clock, and that was daylight for us. And we lived. We were the children of the night, you know? For real. So, I mean, nightlife was the best life!

Long before Christ, we’ve been around!

Living in Atlanta, it was hard. Cops was able to chase you down the street. I remember telling kids the story of Handcuff Bob, where there was a guy who traveled from Florida. He would run up and down the highway from Atlanta, and he would kill the girls. He’d get them in the car and he would handcuff them, and he would kill them, and you’d hear the stories of the girls being dumped behind nightclub bars and stuff. They don’t tell enough stories of the stuff people used to do to us back then. They don’t tell the stories how the police used to stop us and frisk us, like they do the normal prostitutes. They’d chase us and make us run from them, then they’d beat your ass. They’d embarrass you. They’d snatch your wig off your head right there and make you walk through. It’s just a mess. Wherever you were at, they’d embarrass you to no end, just to degrade you.

I mean, we talk about all these things we’re losing? I come from a different time. I never had them! You know? I’m learning to accept what’s coming and what the future brings, you know, I see what the future brings. Even more so, I know what the future brings. I never thought I’d see a Black president before in my life. But I saw a Black president. For me as trans woman, coming from living paycheck to paycheck pretty much, I never thought I’d live to see the day where I’d have gender reassignment surgery. If I would’ve given up hope [at] any point in my life, I wouldn’t see these days. I’m always pushing. If it was a shitty day, you never know what tomorrow’s gonna bring. I have to keep it going. You have to play what you get.

I’m fortunate, but I almost have 34 years being HIV positive, and I’m 51 years old; so you know, you never know. I have to celebrate it all because I never know what can go wrong.

I love watching people’s jaws drop when you tell them you’re 50 after they’ve clocked you for 30!

Yeah, at work one day, this lady said, “I have kids your age!” I said, “Really? Well I’m 51, so how old are your kids, bitch!?” I love it.

Who of the girls you came up with do you miss the most?

The girls I came up with were not professional women. Let’s put it that way. The girls I came up with did the kind of things I did, so we were stunt queens. Big time. A lot of them still are, so, matter of fact that was one of the reasons I moved from San Francisco—to separate myself from them. It was very difficult having them as friends and trying to move forward in my life, because, you know, certain friends can always pull you back down. [The girls I met here were] everyday girls that were kinda doing the same thing I was doing—they was trying to survive.I met a lot of them from the HIV Stops With Me campaign.

What was the campaign?

The HIV Stops With Me campaign was about teaching folks about people that were in their neighborhoods that were HIV positive. But they were doing real well. They were role models for the HIV Community. I was kinda the only HIV Positive trans girl at the time who wanted to be out. They put up three billboards within two blocks of my house. So it was a real outing thing on top of it, too. During that time, I was doing a lot of advocating for just being trans. And I didn’t realize—I was HIV positive, too, and it began to be one of those things where, as a Black trans woman, you have all these things in life you have. I had quite a few strengths already. I was Black, young, I had the male card. Now I’m a trans woman. Now I’m HIV positive. I can pull any cards you ask me to possibly card. Any more strikes you can give me me—I have three, and a few more extra. So, what you say about me? At some point, you can’t tell me you can defeat me, you can beat me down and take whatever you want from me. I have every strike against me and every block thrown at me. The only way from here is up.

I’m one of those kids that come from a history of mental health problems. I come from a history of abuse. You know, I’m one of those kids who went through all of that shit in their childhood. And I’m here to say, at 50-something years old, I look damn good doing it still. Hey! You can follow my history, all the shit, this bitch looks good. I’m not in a wheelchair, I don’t carry a cane, I’m not on blood pressure pills, I’m not on dialysis, I don’t have diabetes, I don’t even have a gray hair yet!

You don’t? I’m getting gray’s already girl...

I’m grateful. I have my issues with what we call God in a spiritual sense, because I’ve learned through a lot of different religions, that spiritually, I am my own, you know? If I look at what the Bible says, and I look at what a lot of other religions say, I am my universe. I am the space, the air, everything. I am all of that, because without getting on my two feet and doing what I need to do, it will never happen. Now, spirituality, me doing one thing is going to lead to something else happening, and that kinetic energy of things working together in the spaces, and numerology is mixed in there; it’s how I get what I need in life. I have to be the force behind me pushing, because right now, I don’t have that from anybody else.

Yeah, to push yourself and always challenge yourself.

I’ll tell you the story behind my first tattoo. My first tattoos were on my forearm. For a good six months, I went through a bad meth addiction. For a good six months, I started using because of the stupidity in my head and the boyfriend I was with. I started using and I got so bad, it had me doing a lot of crazy shit—moving all over the city in LA, all up and down the state. My arms were a mess from using. The day I quit, I went and got tattooed. And I wanted those tattoos as a constant reminder of what I had did to myself. Every time I look at my arms and see those two tattoos, I know what my life was like for those six months; I know I’m grateful. I haven’t been back to that. Every time I have a stupid thought for other stuff or anything else in my life, I look there and think, look where you’ve been.

Wow. That’s incredible. I know you so well and know all these things, but to hear them all at once is a reminder of just how much you’ve overcome. What does Trans Day of Remembrance bring up for you? What tips do you have for the younger girls who haven’t been through their hardest times yet?

During my time of transitioning, you either had your ass beat or got called “sir,” just walking down the street. You knew how to fight. When he said, “hey dude!” when you turned around to get smart, you knew you had to know how to battle. It was like that, girl, I’m serious. I’ve been chased and shot at, me and my girlfriend. We came back at this dude. We hit him in the mouth. We didn’t know he was a drug dealer, though. He went into the street and shot at us. It was crazy. I’ve done a lot of crazy shit. A lot of girls don’t have to experience that on that level.

The other part of it is, I just want to say, I’m grateful for California. I think a lot of girls that live in LA need to really be grateful for LA. Outside of California, there are girls that are still doing some of the craziest shit I was doing back when I was going through it to survive. What these girls are able to have—jobs and being supermodels, and actresses and spokespeople; all the talk shows and shit. There are girls in the South that are still struggling. There are girls in the South where states and cities don’t recognize them—although they may say they do, they don’t. And so those girls are still catching it hard. Look at some of those girls that are in DC, the state and city, doing all the work they possibly can, trying hard to survive every day. You know, I’m grateful to have a job. The same one I have today in California, I’m not going to be able to have in Atlanta, Georgia. I’d be on a hoe track tonight. When I look at it from that point and from Day of Remembrance, we celebrate the girls that have passed, but we have to pay it a little bit forward and celebrate the girls surviving, trying to make it, too. Some girls are out there still, every night, taking a chance. Every night, some girl jumpin’ in somebody’s car trying to make $40 or $50 so she can pay her hotel room tonight, or her rent. Those $40 or $50 might be the last amount of money she needs to get her hormone shot. In the state she lives in, her insurance isn’t gonna pay for her to get her hormones. She has to go to the welfare office as “him,” or she don’t get them at all. These are the types of decisions these girls have to make.

"I remember when we were fighting to get our name changed—not our gender marker changed, but our name changed—what that looked like! Now you can go and have X and get identified as nonbinary gender."

People don’t realize, once you transition, you’ve done a lot of things you don’t like. Depending on how you get through life. If you can cis-pass and assimilate, then you can do better than some of those other girls. For the other girls that can’t assimilate or fit into everyday life, those are the girls who are catching hell; them the girls that are getting killed or attacked because they gotta make their money to survive to pay for the house or apartment they’re staying in, or they have three roommates and they all are doing what they gotta do to get their coins. They can’t get a job because they’re transgender.

I mean, here in LA, we’ve only had one trans woman that has died this year, but the city is recognizing her. I think that’s great. We need to hear that more from within city hall. We need to hear more of that from our mayors. When shit happens to us, we need to hear more about it. The thing that hurts me more than anything: As a Black trans woman, I hardly hear when something happens. We talk about it on Facebook, but I see organizations like TransLatin@ Coalition; they marching for life. I don’t see a lot of that with Black girls. It’s always the same handful, and I don’t know why that is. That bothers me in the sense of, everybody else is celebrating and fighting for us as Black trans women, but we’re not fighting for us. We’re not fighting hard enough, and I just don’t see that here in LA.

That’s one of the biggest challenges I can give to the community: When you have a chance to make a change, make a change; when you have a chance to give back, give it back. [Even if] that’s not gonna benefit you. Why can’t it benefit somebody else to make their world easier? That’s like me working at Starbucks right now. Some of the shit I’ve been through, I have to think: The next black girl that comes through, it’s gonna be a heck of a lot easier for her.

What would you say to those girls in the South who can’t get jobs, who don’t have access to good healthcare?

Don’t give up. Do what you can. If you can’t do it, I’m gonna be honest, do what you have to as legally as you can to survive. There’s nobody gonna look out for you but you. Once you transition, you are pretty much on your own, and your family loves you; everybody loves you. But you need to do this on your own.

The day I started my transition, I was two years old. At two years old, I had to learn how to maneuver through life, so I had to take that adult part of him, and that two-year-old her, and teach them both a lesson. I was in this game by myself. It was me, myself, and I. Now, how we gonna do this? It’s up to me. Who’s gonna do this? I am. I’m gonna love myself through it. Simple.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Oh my god! You’re brilliant. Story time from Sister Sabel. You’re a huge inspiration to me, Sabel, and I can’t wait for people to read this, I think it’s just the hope that we all need.

These kids are doing more today. We live in a city and a time where you can go and get [your gender marker changed to] X. I remember when we were fighting to get our name changed—not our gender marker changed, but our name changed—what that looked like! Now you can go and have X and get identified as nonbinary gender. Who would’ve thought? That wasn’t even a thought process ten years ago!

So I mean, I know it’s dark in them corners some days, I know you wanna close all the windows and doors and just be in the dark, but if you just wait and hold on, just a little longer, the light comes through. Like I said: I’ve had a Black president, I’ve had a woman run for president, I’ve had all these things in my life change, and manifest. I see all the kids—I get a chance to see the kids that I work with as a case manager. I’ve seen them grow and develop. Seeing them go through college and have that—ten years from now, it’s gonna be a whole different world for us.

a3m3gkZackary DruckerSarah BurkeLGBThistoryHIV aidsZackary Druckerloretrans historyTrans LegendsSabel Samone-Loreca
<![CDATA[Patron Saints of Sagittarius: Our Favorite Celebrities Born In This Sign]]>, 21 Nov 2018 18:41:43 +0000 Green blessings, children of the zodiac, for Sagittarius season has officially begun! From November 21 - December 21, the sun shines on the fire sign loved for its eternal optimism and can-do attitude, and roasted for its big mouth and gluttonous tendencies.

An outgoing fire sign, Sagittarius is sophisticated and intellectual, according to Broadly astrologer Annabel Gat. But they’re also known for judging others, being preachy, and showing off. They can be incredible cheesy, and basically have no shame. Tyra Banks is the perfect example of a Sagittarius: America's Next Top Model serves as a platform for her to display her many talents while judging other people.

This Sagittarius season, I’ve compiled a list of the best celebrities born under the sign, so celebrate them by checking out or revisiting their albums, movies, or TV shows. You can rest assured that any work from these Sagittarians is full of heart!

Mark Ruffalo: November 22, 1967

Scarlett Johansson: November 22, 1984

Miley Cyrus: November 23, 1992

Christina Applegate: November 25, 1971

Tina Turner: November 26, 1939

Rita Ora: November 26, 1990

Bruce Lee: November 27, 1940

Kathryn Bigelow: November 27, 1951

Bill Nye: November 27, 1955

Jon Stewart: November 28, 1962

Anna Nicole Smith: November 28, 1967

Anna Faris: November 29, 1976

Mandy Patinkin: November 30, 1952

Chrissy Teigen: November 30, 1985

Bette Middler: December 1, 1945

Sarah Silverman: December 1, 1970

Janelle Monae: December 1, 1985

Zoe Kravitz: December 1, 1988

Lucy Liu: December 2, 1968

Britney Spears: December 2, 1981

Nelly Furtado: December 2, 1978

Julianne Moore: December 3, 1960

Brendan Fraser: December 3, 1968

Jay-Z: December 4, 1969

Tyra Banks: December 4, 1973

Margaret Cho: December 5, 1968

Nicki Minaj : December 8, 1982

Steve Buscemi: December 13, 1957

Taylor Swift: December 13, 1989

Vanessa Hudgens: December 14, 1988

Jane Austen: December 16, 1775

Sarah Paulson: December 17, 1974

Milla Jovovich: December 17, 1975

Brad Pitt: December 18, 1963

Sia: December 18, 1975

Katie Holmes: December 18, 1978

Christina Aguilera: December 18, 1980

Jonah Hill: December 20, 1983

Jane Fonda: December 21, 1937

j5z5dbSara DavidCultureCELEBRITIESastrologyastro guide
<![CDATA[100 Ways to Support—Not Appropriate From—Native People]]>, 21 Nov 2018 18:09:11 +0000 Natives have been so cancelled out of the American conversation that people don’t even know where to begin to include us. “What do we call you? ... American Indian? Native American? Do you guys still live in tipis?” These questions are still asked today—and they will continue to be asked unless we put together some kind of list, a collection of do’s and don’ts, and share it widely... Wait. Hang on a tick. What do we have here?

November is Native American Heritage Month, when the U.S. is supposed to celebrate Natives and our contributions to the world. In recognition of the season, let’s start with 100 ways you and yours can be allies toward to the Indigenous peoples of this continent—our ancestral land.

1. Stop using the word "powwow" when you plan your office meetings. Conference rooms are not where powwows take place (even if you serve frybread). Powwows are celebrations of our Indigenous cultures, which include dance (in regalia, not “costumes”), food, art, music, etc., and they take place in designated locations that can typically accommodate hundreds of people, not just a few dozen office staff.

2. Stop saying say there are "too many chiefs and not enough Indians."

3. If somebody says, “My great grandma was a Cherokee princess,” ask them who the king and queen were. (FYI: There’s no such thing as a Cherokee king, queen, princess, etc.)

4. No, just because you say your great, great, great grandma was allegedly Cherokee does not permit you to wear a headdress. In fact: Unless you are a Native who has earned the right to wear one, don't wear headdresses. Ever.

5. Don’t say someone has gone “off the reservation.” The term comes from a time when Natives were forbidden from leaving the boundaries of a delineated area. It was also the United States’ first travel ban. Sound familiar?

6. Change the narrative on “Indian givers.” We aren’t the ones who reneged on agreements.

7. Never use the word “squaw.” It’s profane. It comes from the Algonquin word “shunksqaw,” which means “woman.” White men truncated it to describe what they desired in order to objectify Native women. So please stop using it.

8. Not every Native can/does ride a horse. Don’t assume we do just because Hollywood, more often than not, has us pulling up on a horse rather than a Honda.

9. And, no, we don’t live in tipis. Please stop asking. Also, please stop purchasing those cheap, fake fucking tipis at Target for your kids.

10. Do not speak with smug entitlement on issues that affect Native communities just because you claim to be a quarter Indian or whatever. For example, do not tell a Native that racist mascots aren’t racist because you are allegedly Cherokee and you, yourself, don’t find them offensive. Instead, listen to us when we tell you what is and what isn’t offensive.

11. Contrary to what movies will tell you, we don’t need rescuing. Tell Kevin Costner: Dances With Wolves and other Hollywood westerns perpetuate the white savior narrative. Instead, watch films written, directed, and/or produced by Natives.

12. Do not tag your Indigenous friends in all the racist, triggering content you come across. If a post includes redface, nasty caricatures, or even the acerbic Twitter troll attacking Natives, it’s most likely offensive.

13. Also, quit telling us to “get over it.” Too often when we bring up the Trail of Tears or Wounded Knee Massacre, for example, we’re berated—“It’s in the past. Move on, already!” Yet when it’s a massacre of predominantly white people it’s, “We will always remember,” or, “We will never forget.” Why do we have to “get over it” when you get to “always remember”?

14. Share Native voices. Please and thank you.

15. Expose your children to as many Indigenous activities as you can. The more children are exposed to the truth of a people, the less they will be affected by stereotypes.

16. Don’t allow schools to dress your kid up as an Indian. Playing Indian is always racist, and. my traditional regalia is not a costume.

17. Quit trying to tell me how my history went. Listen. Don’t explain our culture to us. Let us tell our own stories.

18. Don’t correct the way people choose to identify. Native American, Indian, American Indian, Indigenous, or our tribal names—it’s our choice.

19. Don’t ask us what our Indian name is. For example: “Him: What’s your Indian name?” Me: “Simon.” Him: “No, I mean, what’s your real Indian name?” Me: “I’m Oglala and my name is Simon.”

20. Use your privilege and platform to speak out regularly against the oppression of Natives. Create and empower more allies to do the same. For example, if you have a following or are in a position of authority, use it to illuminate issues in Indian country, and most certainly, maybe most importantly, pass the flippin’ mic to a Native.

21. Stop supporting brands like Urban Outfitters. They profit off of our culture and traditions. Instead, support Native-owned businesses. You can purchase better quality Native clothing, jewelry, etc., while at the same time support actual creative Natives.

22. If you invite Native elders into your spaces, treat them with the respect that we do. Let them eat first, let them have your seat, listen to them. They are not props.

23. Loudly speak out against Indian mascots. They are the commodification and dehumanization of Natives and have been empirically proven to harm the mental health and stability of kids.

24. Even if you have a friend who says he or she doesn’t have a problem with a racist slur, it doesn’t make the racist slur any less of a racist slur. Remind your friend that their sentiments toward a slur does not change its definition.

25. Recognize that DNA does not equate to culture. and 23andMe, for example, are in the business of biotechnology, not culture. Culture is the community, not your spit.

26. You can't look at someone and “see” if they are Native or not.

27. Don't vote for politicians who support oppressive policies and agendas.

28. Help elect and vote for Native candidates on the ballot. We need more representation at all levels of government—from local to state to national.

29. Stand up to your racist uncle/aunt/parents/grandparents when they use anti-Native slurs.

30. Read up on how the Thanksgiving narrative as you know it is largely bullshit.

31. Speak out against Columbus Day. Columbus was a murderer and a rapist who set into motion one of the world's worst genocides.

32. Don’t dress up as an Indian on Halloween. If you see a non-Native person playing Indian, i.e. wearing “war paint” and donning a faux–feather headdress, ask the person, “Would you dress up as an Indian in a room full of Indians? Then why would you think it’s OK any other time?”

33. Push for inclusion of Native American history in schools, especially the histories of local tribes.

34. Every racial diversity list, like the ones your company uses to tout its inclusivity, that excludes Natives is an incomplete diversity list. When this happens, speak up; ask them why Natives have been excluded—and maybe why none have been hired.

35. Know how many tribes and nations are in your state and what tribes and nations are local to your specific area. Learn about them. You’re on their land.

36. Not every Native was born on (or is from) a reservation. More than 70 percent live in big cities.

37. Speaking of, don't visit a reservation for one week/one month/one year and assume you know everything about the struggles and problems of the people that live there all the time.

38. Don’t come to powwows and touch anyone’s regalia or take photos without asking.

39. Stop buying “sage wands” at grocery stores. Sage, for traditional purposes, is not to be purchased. Sage, or “smudging,” as we call it, is meant to bless and cleanse a person or place. Purchasing some hippie sage wand diminishes its sacred meaning.

40. None of our medicines are to be sold for profit. Please don’t purchase any and call out those who attempt to sell them.

41. I know it’s tempting, but even if your grandma told you so (or you just got your 23AndMe results back), if you are distantly related to someone who was Native, we don't immediately need to know.

42. Read books by Indigenous writers like Vine Deloria Jr., Louise Erdrich, and N. Scott Momaday. Please don't read fiction by white authors and think you know anything about Native culture.

43. Stop using (and stop your friends from using) the Bering Strait Theory to justify aggressive land theft. This theory (emphasis on theory) suggests Natives crossed a land bridge, but the latest research continues to debunk this antiquated theory.

44. When someone says, “America is a land of immigrants,” for fuck’s sake, inform them that America is a land of immigrants...and Indigenous peoples and slaves who were brought here against their will.

45. Remind your friends/family/foes that English is a foreign language. Lakota, Ojibwe, Diné, Cherokee, Choctaw, Osage, etc. are the languages of the land. English is from where? Yep. England.

46. Stop touching our hair if it's long. Stop questioning our hair if it's short.

47. Stop referring to early Europeans as “pilgrims” and “settlers.” They were invaders, colonizers, and terrorists.

48. Please do not dictate, talk over, or suppress actual Indigenous voices during an important dialogue on Native issues and topics.

49. Your western university degree does not always equal factual knowledge about us, nor does your settler professor have authority in our oral histories. Our elders do.

50. You don’t have to travel to another continent to find oppression. Ask a Native.

51. Understand that not all Natives agree on all subjects, just as white people don't.

52. Be a good listener—put your ego aside.

53. If you’re a fellow person of color, let’s not play the "oppression Olympics." Just because we inform people that Natives, per capita, are more likely to die at the hands of police than any other demographic that is not us playing “oppression Olympics.” It’s a fact that should be included in the discussion of discrimination.

54. Understand that “Native American” is a very generalized term. Each and every tribe has their own customs and ways.

55. Your family hasn’t “always fought for this country” or owned your family farm. You’re on stolen land.

56. We are not defined by our blood quantum. Although separate, sovereign tribal nations determine who is and isn’t a part of their nation/tribe based on a person’s traceable family and lineage, blood quantum is a colonial construct. Today, non-Natives use the one-drop rule (a small percentage of Indigenous blood) to claim Indigenous heritage. One day, people didn’t even want to be around us. Now, they desperately claim to be us. Weird.

57. If someone (most often, white people) tries to charge you to participate in a “Native American ceremony,” don’t go! Also, call them out. There’s never an entry fee to attend our ceremonies. Ever.

58. Type in #NativeTwitter. This hashtag is where you can find Native users, perspectives, events, and so on.

59. Also, look up #MMIW (murdered and missing Indigenous women). Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women of any other demographic.

60. Quit assuming I’m not a real Native because I live in a fucking house. I like electricity and WiFi, too.

61. Look for and hang out at your local Indian center. There’s one in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis...this list goes on! You may learn a thing or two. When you show up, be humble, learn, and just listen. An elder once told me: The Creator gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.

62. Please do not claim to be Native just to get a job or scholarship. That’s fucked up.

63. Don't say "Native American culture." There are hundreds of tribes, each with unique cultures, languages, foods, ceremonies, etc. Not all Native tribes and nations are the same.

64. Don't even think about calling anyone/anything your spirit animal.

65. Don’t tell me what I should be honored by. Let me tell you how to honor me.

66. Just because you lead your local Wiccan circle does not mean you understand 500 years of genocide. First, worshipping the gods and spirits of nature, which is a tenet of Wicca, is not directly comparable to Indigenous spiritualities, and second, please do not compare the Salem Witch Trials to the genocide of Native Americans. That’s not cool.

67. Don’t assume we go to college for free. A Native can’t simply walk into Harvard, say, “Hi! I’m a Native American,” and get a free ride. Just ask my credit report.

68. Before you make jokey comments about jock stereotypes, recognize that privileged prep-school, East Coast white boys did not invent lacrosse. The Iroquois did.

69. Hire. More. Natives!

70. Are you a student? A professor? When applicable, advocate for or add more Native content, voices, etc. to your syllabi.

71. Not all Natives are rich from casinos. (Again: I’m in so much debt.)

72. Don't claim Cherokee if the Cherokee don't claim you.

73. Don’t say “circle the wagons.” That’s racist. Natives weren’t the threat—land- and gold-horny white people were.

74. Dear journalists, stop saying that the Orlando Nightclub Shooting is the “worst massacre in U.S. history.” Look up the Wounded Knee Massacre, Bear River Massacre, Sand Creek Massacre, etc. Headlines should not come at the expense of history.

75. It’s worth remembering that reservations were first established as prison camps, and Hitler was inspired by them. America doesn’t want you to know that one.

76. No, Native Americans are not all drunks. Jeezus. Please stop assuming that.

77. Folks always want to come to a Native community to “learn our ways.” I’m like, “It would be much more helpful if you just check your people.” But if you do visit a reservation, don’t go for self-enlightenment. Go because you genuinely want to learn something.

78. No, you cannot give yourself a “spirit name” at a summer camp. Please stop that.

79. Yeah, the Boy Scouts of America know nothing about being Native. Also, they perpetuate racist behavior, i.e. redface, headdresses, fake Indian names, etc. Don’t allow your kids to participate in the fetishizing of Native cultures and traditions.

80. On that note, painting stripes on your face doesn’t make it “war paint.” Stop doing that and saying that.

81. Don’t ask me why I’m studying my Indigenous ancestral language instead of Spanish or Chinese or whatever. I study my peoples’ language because it was once outlawed, and yep, I have the right to study whatever I want.

82. Avoid big banks, like Wells Fargo and Chase, that bankroll environmentally destructive oil and gas developments and also violate Native treaty rights. Support your local public banking effort to prevent money going to these colossal institutions. Divest!

83. Not every smoking pipe is a peace pipe, so let’s take “peace pipe” out of your vocabulary.

84. Yes, we pay taxes. State and federal. Please don’t assume we live tax-free.

85. You’re not “part Indian.” You either are, or you are not.

86. Not all Natives practice their people’s spirituality. Some are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist. Some are agnostic, atheist. Please don’t assume all Natives are spiritual and believe in a deity or spirits.

87. Going camping with your pals whilst pounding booze in Patagonia jackets isn’t a “vision quest.” Please just go camping. No need to call it a “vision quest.”

88. There are Indigenous people in the U.S. There are Indigenous people in Mexico. There are Indigenous people in Canada. Natives did not approve of the white man’s borders creating the three countries that make up this continent. Remember that.

89. Heteronormativity and archetypal gender roles are post-colonial. Homosexuality is considered medicine in many Native communities. Look up “two-spirit.”

90. I don’t want to hear about how you watched a PBS special, have you question me about it, and then pretend you know more than me. I am walking, breathing, and living this life.

91. Treaty rights are not “special rights.” They are agreements between one separate sovereign nation and another (and most have been broken, unfortunately).

92. Natives, per capita, serve in the U.S. military more than any other racial demographic. Just a fact allies should know.

93. Stop using the words, "tribes,” “tribe,” and “tribalism" as hip words for interest groups or groups of shared interest. This usage undermines the political, legal and social unique status of tribes.

94. If your girlfriend or wife is Native, don’t call her “Pocahontas.” Ever. Pocahontas was a child and victim of rape. She only married that white guy to protect her family from murder, mutilation, and enslavement.

95. No, we do not get reparations from the U.S. government, and please do not assume that if you somehow get enrolled into a tribe you’ll get a monthly check from the feds. You won’t.

96. Peyote is not recreational, it’s medicinal, it’s spiritual, and no, we can’t just give you some.

97. No, we don’t all commune with animals. I cannot even get my fucking dog to sit. Please stop asking.

98. If you can help it, please stop asking us if we can date “outside of our race.” Yes, we are allowed to date anyone we want, but we also realize we are the smallest racial minority in our ancestral land, and many of us do feel an obligation to make more Native babies. #NativeBabies

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

99. Stop saying “Native Americans believed...” We believe. We survived. Being a better ally is about getting to know who we are and who we are not. We are not mascots. We are not mere relics of the past. We are writers, doctors, business owners, your classmate, neighbor. We are still here.

100. The title of this list could also be, “100 Basic Ways to be a Decent Human.” So, please just be a decent human being. Don’t be an ass.

Simon Moya-Smith is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and Chicano writer and reporter. His new book, Your Spirit Animal Is a Jackass, will be available in 2019. Follow him on Twitter @SimonMoyaSmith.

pa5a3m Simon Moya-SmithAmy Rose SpiegelIndigenousNative AmericanLife100 wayshow to be an allyThe Least You Could Do
<![CDATA[13 Legendary Transgender Pioneers on Survival, Resilience, and Joy]]>, 21 Nov 2018 17:40:50 +0000On a recent afternoon, I sat holding the hand of legendary glamour queen Alexis Del Lago on her 80th birthday, her jungle red nails shaped to points by the attendants at her Los Angeles nursing home. She was slipping into late-stage Parkinson’s, and started speaking to me mostly in Spanish, forgetting that she’s always spoken to me in English. She admired my ombre manicure— “topaz” she purred—and recalled a queen teasing her once for having genteel hands. Alexis told the queen she would sink her nails into her throat. This is the last coherent anecdote she was able to communicate to me, an impression of feuding with another queen lingering to the end.

Three years ago, in another nursing home just down the block, I sat holding the equally legendary Holly Woodlawn’s hand in her final days. As her irregular breathing made me wonder if she would pass in my company, I felt a cavalcade of memories and energy pass between us, generating heat like a deck of cards being shuffled into my hand.

I met Holly and Alexis more than 10 years ago. The two were lifelong sisters and competitors; they were both born in Puerto Rico, and both migrated to New York as teenagers, then to Los Angeles later in life. Alexis moved to New York City in the late 1950s to study fashion, and Holly came by way of hitchhiking, a teenage runaway headed for Time’s Square in the early 1960s. While Holly’s journey is famously immortalized in the lyrics of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” and her legacy preserved in iconic underground films, Alexis’s influence is harder to locate in our sparsely recorded history of trans people. Rather than competing for Andy Warhol’s attention, Alexis opted for theatrical roles in John Vaccaro’s Theatre of the Ridiculous, Scott Whitman plays, and in Jack Smith films. She was a muse to French-American photographer Gilles Larrain and appears on the new cover of his photo book IDOLS, featuring trans legends from NYC in the 1970s.

In the wake of the devastating HIV/AIDS crisis, and long after the nihilistic days of Studio 54 or the high society hob-bobbing at the Factory, Holly moved to Los Angeles, and Alexis followed soon after. Alexis and Holly shared similar orbits, but fought constantly, going several years at a time without speaking. During one of those lapses, I recall seeing Alexis make a grand appearance at a birthday party of Holly’s, and, with the flash of a cape, disappearing minutes later.

Holly and Alexis’ paths were always crossing, even serendipitously landing them in the same nursing home for a brief period after Alexis took a fall. On one visit, I arrived to find Holly looking side to side, making sure the coast was clear, and in a hushed tone of exasperation spilling: “ Alexis is here!” Yet when Holly fell ill, all the competitiveness dissolved: Alexis was banging down the door to get into her hospital room, to see her “Holly Lola.”

I recall Holly, in a rare moment of appreciation and with the full flair of an after-school special, musing, “YOU… are… our future.

You are our future,” I mirrored, wanting her to know that I could see my future self in her and that her survival enabled my survival.

Portrait of asian woman with white hair.
Photo by Bethany Mollenkof.

Mia Yamamoto is a leading criminal defense attorney in California, with roots in the public defender’s office and a private practice since 1985. She was born in 1943 in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona, and later served in the Vietnam war before attending law school out of a desire to contribute to the civil rights movement. She has received numerous awards for her work and is recognized as an important legal advocate for LGBT people and marginalized racial groups.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

ON SOLIDARITY: What I feel like what I have to do is be visible as possible, because we’re being targeted not just by bigots, but by the president of the United States. I’ve been in solidarity with the people he’s been targeting since he’s been targeting them. I’ve thought, I am Muslim, I am a Jew, I’m black, I’m a woman — anyone he’s been after. We aren’t late to the party. He’s been going after trans people lately, but he’s been going after other groups I identify with a lot longer. Those are the people I have to care about, because they don’t get cared about enough by the people who are privileged—who, you know, are able to make a living. They are struggling and are reliant on people like me to care about them and have the ability to advocate for them. … Like even any refugee that ends up at our border, they are our brothers and sisters in need. They are our responsibility and our obligation. Everyone of us who benefits [from] the joys of citizenship should be paying heed to the moral aspect of what it means to be American.

Additional reporting by Diana Tourjée.

8xpxaxZackary DruckerSarah BurkeLindsay SchruppMiss Major Griffin-Gracychili pepperjackie shanevictoria cruzTrans LegendsSabel Samone-LorecaJudy BowenFelicia ElizondoSherri PayneCeyenne DoroshowMother Karina SamalaSandy StoneTiffany ArieagusMia Yamamoto
<![CDATA[The Best Weed Gifts of 2018 from Women-Run Brands]]>, 21 Nov 2018 17:10:53 +0000Pot paraphernalia has come a long way from looking like a Deadhead stoner bro sharted out the Monster Energy drink logo on a piece of glass. One of the sweetest payoffs of female entrepreneurs ruling the cannabis industry is that weed accessories are getting reeeeeal cute. So, just in time for the holidays, here are the best gifts for every stoner on your list—all sourced from our fave women-run companies.

monk drinks
Photo courtesy of Monk

For the Mixologist: CBD Tonics

Up your mixologist friend’s cocktail game with this sampler box of CBD tonics from Monk. Containing fresh-pressed juices, herbs, spices, and CBD, these “botanical cocktails” come in refreshing flavors like rosemary orange lemon, and can be drunk on their own for a vibey mood lift—or mixed with alcohol for more of a buzz.

gy7ybmMichelle LhooqDanielle Kwateng-ClarkWeedHOLIDAYGiftsgift guidescannabisculture
<![CDATA[Mississippi Is 'Gaslighting' Women with Its Abortion Ban, Says Federal Judge]]>, 21 Nov 2018 15:50:59 +0000A federal judge struck down a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks in a scathing ruling on Tuesday, accusing the state of "gaslighting" women and attempting to control their bodies.

"The record is clear: States may not ban abortions prior to viability," US District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his decision.

"So, why are we here?" he continued. "Because the State of Mississippi contends that every court who ruled on a case such as this ‘misinterpreted or misapplied prior Supreme Court abortion precedent.' In that spirit, this Court concludes that the Mississippi Legislature’s professed interest in ‘women’s health’ is pure gaslighting.”

He went on to say that the 15-week ban proved Mississippi was "bent on controlling women and minorities."

Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed the ban into law in March, turning Mississippi into the home of the country's most stringent abortion restrictions. The 15-week ban allowed exceptions only for a fetus "incompatible with life" or one that threatened the life of its mother. The ban still applied in cases of rape or incest. At the time, Jameson Taylor, the acting president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, the conservative think tank that helped draft the legislation, commended Mississippi lawmakers for "protecting maternal health."

Immediately following the law's passage, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women's Health Organization, sued the state with help from the Center for Reproductive Rights, who together argued that the law was unconstitutional.

"HB 1510 is not only unconstitutional, but it denies necessary health care to patients, while shaming them and endangering their lives," Willie Parker, a physician who travels to Mississippi every month to provide abortions in its sole clinic, said in a statement Tuesday. “Patients in Mississippi need more access to care. Politicians must stop trying to deny women their right to live a life with dignity and self-determination.”

Reeves bolstered reproductive rights advocates' arguments in his ruling, suggesting that the state's ultimate goal in proposing such a blatantly unconstitutional law was to appeal it all the way up to the Supreme Court with hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade.

It seems such may be the object of other states legislatures across the country. On Thursday, the Ohio House of Representatives passed what's known as a "heartbeat ban," or a ban on abortion starting around six weeks, at the first detection of a fetal heartbeat. If it passes in the Ohio state Senate and is signed into law by Governor John Kasich (who, it's worth noting, vetoed a similar bill in 2016), it would become the strictest abortion legislation in the country. Given that some women may not even know they're pregnant until after the six-week mark, it would effectively amount to a total ban on abortion in the state.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Reeves ended his Tuesday decision condemning any male lawmaker who would use his power to exert his will over women's bodies.

"The fact that men, myself included, are determining how women may choose to manage their reproductive health is a sad irony not lost on the Court," he concluded. "As a man, who cannot get pregnant or seek an abortion, I can only imagine the anxiety and turmoil a woman might experience when she decides whether to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion. Respecting her autonomy demands that this statute be enjoined."

mbybbnMarie SolisZing Tsjengabortionreproductive rightsMISSISSIPPIroe v. wadePowerwomen's healthAbortion RightsAbortion Ban
<![CDATA[Our Best Friend Died by Suicide After Being Abused and Stalked by Her Ex]]>, 21 Nov 2018 10:41:23 +0000

Every year, women are killed by stalkers and domestic abusers—despite previously reporting them to the police. Unfollow Me is a campaign highlighting the under-reported issue of stalking and domestic abuse. Follow all of our coverage here.

Meera Dalal was a woman with a promising future: She had a great circle of friends, a close-knit family, and a good career as a hospital liason officer. Her friends described her as the glue in their friendship group. “She was selfless,” her friend Jenny Patel told Broadly.

In April 2013, Dalal was on a night out with her friends when she bumped into a man she’d dated briefly as a teeager. (He cannot be named for legal reasons.) They reconnected and began dating. “She was really excited,” said her friend Shriya Parmar. “We were all excited for her as well. She was in a good place. She was happy.”

But Dalal’s demeanor began to change over time. She stopped hanging out with her friends and appeared preoccupied even when she did see them. “She was constantly on her phone,” Patel said.

Her friends witnessed several disturbing incidents involving Dalal and her partner. On one occasion, he threw her shoes over a wall because he was angered that Dalal was taller than him in heels. He attempted to physically assault her best friend Bhavni Morjaria after she counseled Dalal to leave him. Once he even obtained the CCTV footage from a restaurant Dalal had visited with her friends to check her whereabouts. Dalal often sent him photographs of where she was, and she constantly speaking to him on her phone or on Skype.

Meera Dalal. Photo by Shriya Parmar

It became clear to all of Dalal’s close friends and family that she was in an abusive relationship, but they struggled to know how to help her. Dalal turned up at a friend’s wedding late and covered in bruises, her friend Dixita Tank remembers. She said that she’d fallen down the stairs and refused to be pushed further.

When her friends attempted to make plans to see her, she’d ask them to leave her alone. “She told me I was getting her in trouble [with her boyfriend],” Morjaria said. “I didn’t want to get her in trouble.” Abusers commonly isolate their victims from those who love them most to better facilitate their abuse. Like many domestic abuse victims, Dalal soon lost touch with her closest friends.

When Dalal ended the relationship, her ex began stalking her. He would turn up uninvited at the house where she lived with her parents. Her family says that he withheld her passport so that she couldn’t go on holiday with them. Dalal even began transferring large sums of money to his bank account. Daksha, her mother, thinks that he was blackmailing her: “She said to her dad, ‘I need to get a new car, because he keeps following me.’”

On 15 February, 2016, Dalal was found dead at her parents’ home in Leicester. She had died by suicide at the age of just 25. After her death, an investigation conducted by police watchdog Independent Police Complaints Commission (now known as the Independent Office for Police Conduct) found that Dalal had spoken to police multiple about the abuse, but refused to cooperate with officers investigating the allegations.

Her family believe this is because she was too frightened that her ex would retaliate with violence against her parents and sister. “He kept harassing her,” Daksha says. “She said to me two weeks before she passed away, ‘I’m not safe in this country.’”

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

“Following the death of Meera Dalal, the force identified issues in relation to the investigation and consulted the Independent Office for Police Conduct,” a spokesperson for Leicestershire Police told Broadly. “Following a public complaint in the weeks after her death, the force referred itself to the IOPC, who took this as an independent investigation.The IOPC investigation was completed in December 2016 and concluded there was no case to answer for misconduct against any of the officers.”

Broadly met with Dalal's friends Morjaria, Patel, Parmar, and Tank to find out more about her life and how best to help other stalking and domestic abuse victims.

Read our guide on how to help a friend in an abusive relationship.

yw7p9bSirin KaleZing TsjengukcrimestalkingPowerdomestic abuseUnfollow Me
<![CDATA[How to Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship]]>, 21 Nov 2018 10:00:44 +0000Every year, women are killed by stalkers and domestic abusers—despite previously reporting them to the police. Unfollow Me is a campaign highlighting the under-reported issue of stalking and domestic abuse. Follow all of our coverage here.

Knowing how to help a friend in an abusive relationship can be hard. They may push you away, dodge your calls, cancel plans without notice, or even be rude or abrupt. In such situations, it’s important to hold onto the reasons why you became friends with that person to start with. Focus on their good qualities, not the person they’ve become—because when someone’s in an abusive relationship, their whole focus is on surviving.

Meera Dalal, a 26-year-old from Leicester, UK, had a great circle of friends. They’d have sleepovers at each other’s house, go on nights out together, or on weekend breaks to cities like Amsterdam. She taught her best friend Dixita Tank how to blow dry her hair into big, bouncy curls. When her other friend Shriya Parmar’s dad was in hospital, Dalal would come to her house every day to check she was holding up OK.

But when Dalal got into a relationship with a violent and abusive man, her friendships started to suffer. She’d cancel plans, or be evasive, or spend whole evenings on her phone, texting her partner. “We all drifted away,” Parmar told Broadly.

Watch: Unfollow Me: The Story of Meera Dalal

Although Dalal broke up with her abusive boyfriend, he began stalking her and turning up at her family home without warning. In her final days, Dalal seemed depressed, withdrawn, and down. Her friends still tried to reach out to her, but she hardly ever replied. On 15 February 2016, Dalal died by suicide. “You never imagine that someone is going to go to such extreme measures,” Tank said. “If any of our friends going forward were even a little bit upset, I think we would take it very seriously.”

Abusers like to isolate their victims from their friends, family, and colleagues. By alienating them from their support groups, abusers are better placed to control and manipulate their victims. We asked Laura Richards of anti-stalking charity Paladin how to spot when your friend is in an abusive relationship, and what you should do to help them.

How can you tell if someone is in an abusive relationship?

Look for changes in their behavior. They may not call or socialize as much as usual, or become withdrawn and quiet. Perhaps they’ll cancel on your repeatedly at short notice, seem anxious or fearful, or often have to ask their partner’s permission to do things. When you do see them, they may not have access to money, wear more makeup to disguise bruises, or less revealing clothes than they normally would do to cover injuries. They will often be on their phone, texting their partner, or speaking to them on the phone. If their partner often checks up on your friend, turning up on nights out, or texting and calling them continuously, this is a sign something may be wrong.

What should you do if your friend becomes distant as a result of their abusive relationship?

Keep in contact via text, calling, emails, or social media. Let them know you’re always available to chat. Be a supportive friend and check in regularly.

What should you say if your friend tells you that they're being abused in a relationship?

Listen to them. Don’t be judgmental, blame them, or shame them. Don’t make the victim feel like they’ve done something wrong. Tell them they are not alone, and many people experience this. Say that no-one deserves to be treated that way. Explain that you will support them, and that they have choices and options. It’s a brave step to tell someone what’s happening to them, so empower them and validate their experience.

What should you never offer to do?

Don’t blame them, or judge them. Don’t tell them what to do or that they should leave the relationship immediately. Don’t bombard them with questions. And don’t offer to talk to the abuser—this may make things worse.

What practical steps should you suggest if your friend says they want to leave the abusive relationship?

Leaving a relationship is a high-risk time. Offer to help your friend leave safely. Give them information about local domestic abuse services, and stalking services. Go through the DASH Risk Assessment with them—this will help identify whether they are in immediate danger for their lives.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

What if your friend leaves the abusive relationship and their ex starts stalking them?

Tell them to follow the six golden rules: Report the abuse as soon as possible to the police. Get good practical advice from the National Stalking Helpline or Paladin if they’re based in the UK, or the Victim Connect Helpline in the US. Collect as much evidence as possible, whether it’s screenshotting messages the abuser has sent or taking pictures of them outside their house. Keep a diary of the stalking behavior. Fill out the DASH Risk Assessment, to see if they’re in immediate danger for their lives. And most importantly, tell them to trust their instinct.

a3mepeSirin KaleZing TsjengukcrimeLifeabusestalkerdomestic abuseUnfollow Memeera dalal
<![CDATA[It's Time to Examine How Stalking and Abuse Affects Mental Health]]>, 21 Nov 2018 10:00:00 +0000When 25-year-old Meera Dalal left her boyfriend after years of physical and emotional abuse, her friends and family were initially relieved. But the abuse didn’t stop. Instead, he began stalking her.

He threatened Dalal and her family, repeatedly turned up outside her house, and even withheld her passport so she couldn’t leave the country on holiday. She started transferring large sums of money to his bank account; her family believe that he was blackmailing her.

On February 15, 2016, she took her own life in her home in Leicestershire, UK.

Dalal is not the only woman die by suicide after experiencing domestic abuse and stalking. An exclusive Broadly investigation on Thursday shows that multiple women in the UK died between 2012 and 2017 as a result of self-inflicted injuries after domestic-related incidents involving intimate partners, ex-partners, or family members.

The new figures follow a previous Broadly investigation in July that found that 49 women in the UK were killed by their partner, ex-partner, or stalker over the last three years—even though they had previously reported their attacker to the police.

The two investigations form part of our Unfollow Me coverage, which aims to amplify the voices of stalking victims and illustrate how often they are let down by the authorities.

Following our reporting, women began sharing their own stories of stalking and abuse on social media. We were privately contacted by several women who wanted to talk about the campaign and how they, too, had been victims of stalking. Many said that they considered themselves fortunate to escape their stalker alive, but that stalking had left a devastating impact on their mental health.

Over the next few weeks, Broadly will look into the psychological effects of stalking and abuse and expand its Unfollow Me coverage to the US. We want to highlight the voices of survivors who are grappling with complex mental health conditions such as OCD and post-traumatic stress symptoms as a result of being a victim of stalking. We will also look into the survivors’ guilt that many experience when they leave the abuse and harassment behind—often only to see their abuser find another partner and potential victim.

Stalking doesn’t just affect the mental health of its victims—it also hurts their wallets. Five survivors broke down for us just how much stalking had cost them financially, including leaving behind their jobs, homes, and installing new security systems.

When you’re in a public-facing job, stalking can feel feel especially terrifying and dangerous. We speak to Scarlett Letter Reports host Amanda Knox and ACLU attorney and activist Chase Strangio about what it’s like to be the target of a stalker. Instagram influencer Andreea Cristina also writes for us on how a high-profile relationship brought her to the attention of multiple stalkers.

But stalking doesn’t just affect celebrities or those in the public eye. In the US, Native women are being stalked and killed at alarming rates. Our investigation seeks to find out exactly what lies behind the murder rate—and why no one is answering women’s calls for help.

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We’ll also explore the psychology behind stalking, how stalkers are using frighteningly advanced spyware technology to track and monitor their victims, and when and how you can obtain a restraining order against your stalker.

The triggers for mental health conditions and suicide are complex and cannot be boiled down to a simple factor. But by speaking to dozens of survivors, it is undeniable that stalking can play a role in your psychological well-being. Our hope is that by teasing out a fuller picture of how stalking impacts victims in every aspect of their lives, we can begin to better understand how to better support survivors and prevent future abuse.

zmd47wZing TsjengLindsay SchruppBroadly Staffdomestic violencestalkingPowerdomestic abuseeditors letterUnfollow Me