2016

 

This past year has been very exciting and challenging. Many events have taken place. Let’s begin with January.

In January, I started working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. On the campaign, I worked under a field organizer to help ensure they met all of their goals. I was working in Iowa on the caucuses where I was based in Council Bluffs and also did organizing in Harrison County.

On February 1st, Sen. Sanders won half the Iowa delegates. Iowa was a tie this was huge news for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The official results were 49.8% for Clinton and 49.6% for Sanders. Therefore, Sen. Sanders won 696.82 state delegates, and Hillary Clinton won 700.9.

2016Caucus

Locally, Pottawattamie County, which was supposed to be a stronghold for Hillary Clinton went to Bernie Sanders, 50.7% to 49%. Further, in my precinct, Council Bluffs 11, it went 62.5% for Sanders and 37.5% for Clinton.

Bernie Sanders had a great showing in Iowa for a long-shot candidate.

Following the Iowa caucuses, I began working in Nebraska on their caucuses as a Field Organizer. During this part of the campaign, I was based in Lincoln. Thus, on the weekends I would spend my time there and weekdays in Council Bluffs organizing in Omaha and Dodge County, NE because I was still a full-time student at Iowa Western Community College.

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After the Nebraska Caucuses, I went back to working in Iowa, but now I was organizing the Sanders campaign participation in the County and District Conventions. We worked to make sure that Sen. Sanders would get a fair representation of the delegation he won on the night of the caucuses.

I also worked in Kansas on their District Conventions doing the same job and in Colorado on their State Convention doing similar work, but I also had the opportunity to monitor the official counting of the ballots and helped with the certification of those ballots as the Sanders, campaign representative.

Moving forward, in June at the Iowa Democratic State Convention, I ran for Democratic National Committee (DNC) member. I did lose the election. Together we won. We won at the state conventions around the nation, in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington.

Even though I lost, we won, because we won enough votes to show a strong standing against the party establishment demonstrating that we want change.

Specifically, at the Iowa State Convention, we passed one of the most progressive Democratic State platforms.

  • Calling for single-payer healthcare
  • Supporting the death with dignity act
  • Protecting LGBTQIA elders against discrimination
  • Support of health insurance coverage for transgender individuals
  • Support of tuition-free state college and universities
  • Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Support of equal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.
  • Calling for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025.
  • Opposition to fast-tracking trade agreements.

The convention even agreed to a plank calling for the abolishment of superdelegates.

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In July, I officially came out in support of Hillary Clinton. This was after 29 million people voted in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders won 1,831 national delegates, 13 million votes, and Hillary Clinton won 2,220 national delegates.

It was an honor to have volunteered and been a staffer for Senator Sanders. Together, we began a revolution to transform American politics and that revolution continues. We fought and are fighting for a government that works and represents us all, not just the one percent.

In August, I moved to the University of Iowa to get my Bachelor’s degree in psychology and perhaps sociology. At the University of Iowa, I have taken the following classes, Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, and Sociological Theory.

However, moving to Iowa City wasn’t all fun because a couple of things happened after I got here. I received terrible news of a friend passing away. Her name was Pauline Beck.

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Pauline was a great person who would do anything for the people she loved. She even had an impact on many lives by her generous heart. She was a friend to many and was like a mother to others.

I first met Pauline the first day she walked into the 2016 Bernie Sanders office in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From that day forward she was in the office nearly every day. She took care of many of the needs of the office, or she would find someone who could. She provided many home cooked meals, cleaned the office, and made many creative decorations.

She is greatly missed by many.

Then we have November where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the undemocratic Electoral College vote to Donald Trump. We lost the battle but not the war.

On November 10, the vote total was 59,695,628 popular votes and 279 electoral votes for Donald Trump to 59,920,291 popular votes and 228 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton which her lead would grow to nearly 3 million votes.

As a progressive Democrat, I was proud to have voted for Hillary Clinton, and I am deeply saddened by the results of this election.

Even though Democrats did not win back the Senate as expected or gain more seats in the House; Democrats did not lose everything. Just look at the states. In states like California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, and others they all passed progressive ballot measures.

Arkansas

  • Legalized medical marijuana

California

  • New background checks for ammunition and prohibits possession of large capacity magazines
  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over

Colorado

  • Raised the minimum wage
  • Allow terminally ill patients to end their life with assistance of a doctor

Maine

  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over
  • Raised the minimum wage

Massachusetts

  • Legalized the possession of marijuana

Montana

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Nevada

  • Expanded gun background checks
  • Legalized marijuana

North Dakota

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Washington

  • Increased the minimum wage

14956434_1272438012819316_4901109538472250760_nAdditionally, in November Blair Lawton announced that he would run for Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and I threw my support behind him.

I support Blair for the position because of his experience working on campaigns and his ideas on how to rebuild our party. Blair believes in contesting every legislative race and spending less time courting big donors and more time building grassroots donations from activists.

20160412_114409On December 5, I announced my candidacy for Vice-Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. The election will be held on January 21.

I am running for Vice-chair because I want to give back to the party that has fought for my civil rights and fights for health care for all. I am running because I want to rebuild the party.

My passion stems from the fact that I know that if I want to have rights, I need to step up and fight for them.

Half of the year, I have been fighting for health insurance because the Social Security Administration decided that I am no longer medically disabled. However, the issue is that they not only want me to go to work which is fine but they terminated my health insurance, and I am left to my own devices to find health insurance. Meaning that I must find health insurance that will cover my medications including anti-rejection and cystinosis medications, which add up quickly, one of the drugs alone Procysbi cost over $63,000 for a 30-day supply.

This on-going battle with the Social Security Administration is quite stressful and demeaning. Especially because of the psychological evaluation, an enormous amount of paperwork, and calls I have endured during the last six months.

Participating in a psychological evaluation to determine if one need help through the Social Security Administration can be hurtful and demeaning especially when the psychologist has their biases against the client.

From the beginning, she was expecting a male and instead got me. On top of that, I was involved with the Democratic party.

Therefore, reading her evaluation makes one feel inferior and worthless. Specifically, in the evaluation notes, she states, “She appeared to be low average intellectual ability,” and she did this without doing any intelligence assessments. But we cannot forget how she calls me male several times.

How would I rate 2016?

The first part of the year was awesome I was full of hope and energy but as the year went on that energy and hope drained.

Currently, I have little hope for a better future, and my energy is draining fast. This is because of these recent events with Hillary Clinton losing, Democrats losing control of the Senate in Iowa, not gaining control of the U.S. Senate, and not to forget this on-going battle that I keep fighting with the Social Security Administration. I seem to be losing this fight, and I keep getting this feeling that hits me in the gut, it feels like I’ve already been defeated.

Nevertheless, with the hope I have, I will fight on!

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Next Chapter

10253832_10205734790723503_4917964700523150982_nWow, this past two years have been packed full of events that I never thought I would experience. Some of those events include speaking with and introducing Senator Bernie Sanders, being elected Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattaime County Democrats, being sent to Colorado to work for the Bernie campaign, and completing my studies at Iowa Western Community College. This is just to name a few.

As the Affirmative Action Chair, I served on the Pottawattamie County Democrats Executive Committee where I served as the AA Chair from February 2014 to October 2015.

11391246_981335545240787_107062442060574773_nAs the AA Chair, I organized the first Affirmative Action Committee in Pottawattamie county for the county Democrats. We worked to ensure that our county Party was following the Iowa Democratic Party’s rules and regulations on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and their diversity requirements. This included organizing our involvement in several Pottawattamie County events such as Celebrate Council Bluffs and Heartland Pride LGTQIA+ Pride Parade and Festival. In addition, I assisted in ensuring that the Pottawattamie County 2016 caucus locations were ADA accessible to the best of our abilities and we worked to bring those who historically felt unwelcome back into the Party.

On July 3, 2015, I had the awesome opportunity to meet and introduce Senator Bernie Sanders at his campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I had a blast and it was just amazing. This event also happened to have been my official coming out in support of Senator Bernie Sanders for President.

Recently, I was a field organizer with the Bernie 2016 campaign. In that position I recruited, managed, and trained volunteers, and I built and managed several volunteer canvass (knocking on doors) and phone bank events. While on the campaign I was sent to Kansas to help organize their District Conventions. I was also sent to Colorado to assist with organizing for their State Convention. While I was there, I called to invite people, organized carpools, and at the convention I helped in several ways including monitoring the ballots and observing the counting of the ballots. I was with the campaign from March to May of this year.

This week I finished my last classes at Iowa Western Community College. I do not have the official Associates Degree in psychology because IWCC claims that I need to take two additional classes. However, I have been accepted to go to the University of Iowa this fall to work on my Bachelors of Science in psychology. Therefore, I will be moving to Iowa City in August.

July 3 & Bernie Sanders in Council Bluffs, Iowa

11695825_10204817824588262_1182260142788144659_nOn July 3rd, I had the awesome opportunity to meet and introduce Senator Bernie Sanders at his campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

I had a blast, it was amazing. This also just happened to have been my official coming out in support of Senator Bernie Sanders for President.

Bernie Sanders is serving his 2nd term in the U.S. Senate and he won his last election with 71%. Bernie has served 16 years in the U.S. House, and he is longest serving independent in our nation’s history.

Bernie Sanders served 4 terms as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and he was first elected in 1981.

In the 60s, as a student and activist, Bernie was a frontline champion for equality. He was even arrested while protesting the segregation of schools, he organized against segregated housing in Chicago, and he marched on Washington, D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bernie Sanders is one of our nation’s most persistent voices defending the interests of the working class and standing up to the excesses of corporate America. He is also widely considered the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate.

I first became involved in politics in 2012, when I volunteered with the Iowa Democratic Party. Last year, I was elected Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.

As you all may be aware, I live with a very rare genetic disease called cystinosis. The disease causes the continuous cellular accumulation of the amino acid cystine to rise to toxic levels, resulting in irreversible tissue and organ damage if left untreated even for a short time. The disease damages all of my organs, especially my kidneys, eyes, muscles, thyroid, and brain.

Health insurance in the U.S. is confusing for most people, however it is especially difficult (even with the ACA) for people living with cystinosis, or any serious illness. Individuals like myself must be sure that our health insurance will answer all of these questions:

  • Does the plan cover ALL your prescriptions (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran)?
  • Are your medications (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran) on the “formulary” or must they be ordered through as specialty pharmacy? Will you have to pay out-of-pocket for specialty pharmacy orders?
  • Is there a mail-order option?
  • Does the plan permit you to see the providers you already have established relationships with and allow you to be hospitalized at the medical center of your choice?11695876_863892750332397_2033260714184318579_n
  • What does it cost to go “out-of-network”?
  • For medications that may not be FDA approved, what will be the cost to you?

Living with cystinosis and dealing with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurance has led me to be a supporter of the single-payer healthcare system, which Bernie stands for.

As you may be aware, I am a student at Iowa Western Community College, studying Psychology.

11059383_860752873979718_241580374969825418_nNavigating how to pay for my education, while dealing with cystinosis can be daunting. I already have over $8,000 in student loan debt.

However, I have hope because Bernie will work towards college affordability. He believes that everyone regardless of their family’s income should be able to get a high quality education.

As a transgender woman, I know Bernie has my back because he has been out there fighting for LGBTQIA+ equality since the 70s. As U.S. Representative in 1996, he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned all federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and Bernie has always voted for non-discrimination bills that include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protections.

*My support for Senator Bernie Sanders will not interfere with my position as Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.*

2 Years Ago This Week

Me in Pre-op with Diane and family
Me in Pre-op with Diane and family

I am 24 years old now, thanks to the person who had true altruism and decided to donate a kidney to me two years ago. Although I do still live with cystinosis. However, on the 30th of May will be the 2 year anniversary of the kidney transplant (or adoption of Serenity). I am doing well. I am doing so much better than I was at this moment two years ago. I hope my living donor is doing well too.

ki2011301f1Again, cystinosis is a lysosomal  storage disease that is caused by the accumulation of the amino acid cystine. The disease leads to kidney failure, blindness, weak bones, muscle weakness, pulmonary dysfunction, and eventual death. Cystinosis disproportionately affects blond, blue-eyed children of European descent who carry the autosomal recessive genetic mutation to the cystinosin, a protein encoded by the lysosomal cystine transporter gene (CTNS) on chromosome 17p13*.

This year on the anniversary of the transplant, I will be in Denver, Colorado. I am going to a Cystinosis Patient and Caregiver Town Hall. At the town Hall, I will join conversations in how to better treat and improve care for my fellow cystinosis patients. In addition, I will have the opportunity to meet with other individuals with cystinosis and some cystinosis specialists.

However, when I get back from Denver, I will be heading back to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) for the two year post-transplant follow up. But, I will also be following up with Dr. Nisely at the UIHC LGBTQ Clinic. At the LGBTQ Clinic I will learn what we (the team) are going to do about my hormone levels and whether or not I will start taking estrogen.

The following details show how I am doing.

Labs (05/13/2015):

  • Phosphorus – 3.2
  • BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) – 19
  • Creatinine – 0.97
  • Potassium – 4.2
  • CO2 – 25
  • WBC – 6.4
  • Platelet Count – 219
  • Hemoglobin – 14.4

Labs (04/01/2015):

  • Phosphorus – 2.5
  • BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) – 14
  • Sodium – 141
  • Total Protein – 6.9
  • Potassium – 3.8
  • Glucose – 92
  • Creatinine – 1.1
  • CO2 – 25
  • Albumin – 4.6
  • WBC – 4.5
  • RBC – 4.5
  • Hemoglobin – 14.1
  • Hematocrit – 44
  • Platelet Count – 220
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone – 1.35

The following is a list of all the medications and supplements I take to treat the cystinosis and prevent my body from rejecting the new kidney.

  1. Albuterol 90mcg/actuation ihhaler Indication: Asthma
  2. Clindamycin 300mg capsule, 600mg 1x daily Indication: Prevent infection from dental work
  3. Vitamin B12 500mcg Indication: Cystinosis
  4. Cystaran 0.44% eye drops Indication: Cystinosis
  5. Mycophenolate 500mg tablet, 1,000mg 2x daily Indication: Prevent kidney rejection
  6. Montelukast SOD 10mg, 10mg daily Indication: Allergies
  7. Omeprazole 20mg capsule, 20mg 2x daily Indication: Acid reflux
  8. Ondansetron 4mg tablet, 4mg every 8 hours Indication: Nausea/vomiting
  9. Procysbi (cysteamine bitartrate) delayed-release 75mg capsule, 1,050mg 2x daily Indication: Cystinosis
  10. Polyethylene Glycol 17grams Indication: Constipation
  11. Prednisone 5mg tablet, 5mg daily Indication: Prevent kidney rejection
  12. Prograf 1mg capsule, 1mg 2x daily Indication: Prevent kidney rejection
  13. Phospha 250 Neutral tablet, 250mg 2x daily Indication: Cystinosis
  14. Probiotic Acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus) capsule, 1 capsule daily Indication: Bowels
  15. MultiVites 2 gummies
  16. Sertraline HCL 100mg tablet, 100mg 1x daily Indication: Mood issues, depression
  17. Sennosides 8.9mg tablet, 8.6mg 1x daily Indication: Constipation
  18. Topiramate 100mg tablet, 100mg 1x daily Indication: Migraine
  19. Trazodone 50mg tablet, 25-50mg 1x daily Indication: Migraine, sleep, mood
  20. Vitamin D3 2000IU, 4000IU 1x daily Indication: Cystinosis
  21. Gabapentin 600mg tablet, 600mg 3x daily Indication: Migraine
  22. Rizatriptan 10mg ODT tablet, 10mg every 24 hours as needed Indication: Migraine
  23. Docusate Sodium 100mg tablet, 100mg 2x daily as needed Indication: Constpation

The following is the schedule for all of the medication and supplements I take.

8 or 9am: Cystaran, Prograf, Prednisone, Mycophenolate, Phospha 250 Neutral, MultiVities, Omeprazole, Docusate Sodium, Gabapentin, Tizanidine, and vitamin D

10 or 11am: Procysbi (14 caps), Cystaran, sometimes Ondansetron

2:30 or 3:30pm: Acidophilus, Gabapentin, Sennosides (as needed), Cystaran, vitamin B12

8 or 9pm: Cystaran, Phospha 250 Neutral, Mycophenolate, Omeprazole, Prograf, Docusate Sodium, Tizandine (as needed)

10 or 11pm: Procysbi (14 caps), sometimes Ondansetron, Cystaran

11pm: Sertraline, Topiramate, Trazodone, Montelukast, Gabapentin, Tizanidine, Cystaran

Education Update:

I have completed another semester at Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) for my associate’s degree in psychology. I completed Intro. Biology with a C, Composition II with an A, Social Psychology with a B, and Intro Sociology with an A. Currently, I have a cumulative GPA of 3.286.

Next semester, I will only have one more left at IWCC. Once, I finish at IWCC I will transfer to the University of Iowa to work on a bachelor’s of science in psychology and perhaps a master’s in public health.

This fall, I will be taking Human Biology; Abnormal Psychology; Gender Ideas, Interactions, Institutions; and Public Speaking.

I am going down this path because I would like to use my education to work within the cystinosis, LGBTQIA+, and transplant communities. I plan to work in research and clinic in those fields.

*Morrow, Thomas. “Do comparable Efficacy & Convenient Dosing Justify Procysbi’s Extremely High Price?” http://www.managedcaremag.com. Managed Care, July. 2013. Web. 27 April. 2015.*

Social Psychology Critique: DIVERGENT (2014)

newdivergentposterIn the film Divergent (2014), the society is divided into five factions that each person in that society must choose from when they reach a certain age, and they must commit to that faction for life. To help determine which faction each individual fits into as they mature into adults, each of them take aptitude tests.

riw-divergent-faction-symbolsEach faction represents a different human virtue. Abnegation the selfless, Dauntless the brave, Erudite the intelligent, Candor the honest, and Amity the peaceful.

article-2506551-1964A08400000578-809_634x497Tris Prior, however, does not fit into any of these factions. She fits into Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. Therefore, she is Divergent. The film is focused around Tris Prior and her journey through this society, and into the civil war. Which broke out between disagreements on what should be done with the Divergent population and the true meaning behind this cohort.

In the film Divergent (2014), the leader of Erudite, Jeanine Mathews came to the conclusion that the Divergent population are a threat to their society. This leads to her entire faction supporting her and her decision to overthrow the Abnegation. I believe this is an example of groupthink (Sanderson, pgs. 301-303) because the entire faction sides with Jeannine Mathews and they do not dissent her decision. They also have unanimity in their opinions of Abnegation and of the Divergent.

I believe that the Erudite came to these conclusions because of their biased perceptions against the Divergent. None of them, however, have known an openly Divergent individual. For instance, Jeanine Mathews claims that Divergents want to destroy society, and that their entire existence goes against nature. All of which align with mirror-image perception (Sanderson, pg. 308). She says this because they do not fit into one faction but do sometimes fit into or with multiple factions, and therefore even Divergent individuals could also see Erudite as destroying society, and going against nature. However, the other factor leading to the events was the hostile media phenomenon (Sanderson, pg. 309) because the Candor-run media published news that was biased against the Abnegation. The Candor-run media was making accusations about abuse and neglect in the faction that happened to align with rumors started by the Erudite.

Finally, in the film Divergent (2014), the Erudite revolted and raised an army to attack the Abnegation. They did this by using the Dauntless faction as their pawns, and also as their soldiers. Again through groupthink, the Dauntless leaders decided to align with Jeanine Mathews and use a so-called “serum” on their own faction members. This so-called “serum” did two things, made the faction members who were not found to be worthy of elite titles to go into a simulation and to find out the Divergent population in Dauntless who were immune to the so-called “serum.” These Dauntless murdered all the Divergent found within their ranks. I believe this is an example of deindividuation (Sanderson, pgs. 295-297) because they would not have behaved that way if they were not in a large group.

I have read all of the books in the Divergent series and watched this specific film about six times. Thus, now, I must say that watching it again in a social psychological perspective it did change how I looked at this film. I saw underline themes that I did not pick up on before, such as how it discusses aggression, group process on decisions, and even factors that lead to conflict. The film also made a mental impact on me when it comes to deindividuation and murder or war.

divergent-movie-stills-tris-maggie-qI think the film Divergent (2014), was done well in catching themes for discussion on group influence, specifically deindividuation, groupthink, power of leadership, and biased perceptions. If one looked at this film differently than I did, they could possibly have seen a different set of themes to discuss. I chose group influence because of the faction system set up in their society, which inherently had problems. Thus, I looked at the social psychological problems caused by that system. I would recommend the entire Divergent series for students to watch. Divergent (2014) especially, because of how it sets up the playing field with explaining the factions and because of what I said before about how there are other themes than the one I choice to look at.