Author: Josh Boegner

Adam Rippon: America’s Olympic Sweetheart

During the 2018 Winter Olympics that have been happening in Pyeongchang, South Korea, American Figure Skater Adam Rippon has stolen the hearts and minds of many, including this writer. But beyond his charming persona and impressive skating abilities, Rippon has brought visibility to other queer athletes by being the first openly gay athlete to compete in the Games.

Rippon presents by what is defined as stereotypically gay: often using more “feminine” mannerisms and speaking with what can be called the “gay lisp”. At the same time, he is being praised not just for his personality and looks, but also his athleticism, a praise that is often withheld from gay men who do not present in ways that are more heteronormative.

I look forward to seeing what other heights Rippon can reach, and what he will continue to do with the platform that he has amassed. If you’re interested in more reading on this topic, I would highly recommend the article below.

Sources:

them. How a Fabulous, Femme Gay Man Finally Became America’s Sweetheart – https://www.them.us/story/how-a-femme-gay-man-became-americas-new-sweetheart

STOP Act: Implementation and Effects on the Opioid Epidemic in North Carolina

The rise of the opioid epidemic nationwide has led to an increase of attention from both media and policy makers. Here in North Carolina, a recently passed policy is the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention, or STOP Act, which aims to reduce the amount of Opioids prescribed a one approach to tackle the epidemic. The STOP Act was signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper on June 29, 2017, and since then its four stage implementation has been put into effect, which will continue until 2020.

The first step of implementation occurred almost immediately after the law’s passage, on July 1st 2017, requiring Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to personally consult with a supervising physician. This applied to Pas and NPs at facilities that primarily engage in treating pain, and the prescription will, or is expected to, last longer than 30 days. Additionally, PAs and NPs have to consult with a supervising physician every 90 days for patients for are continuously prescribed opioids.  Providers are also required to provide information on the disposal of controlled substances, both written and orally, when a patient concludes a course of treatment. The second aspect, implemented on September 1st, 2017, requires that pharmacies report targeted prescriptions to the North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System within a day of the prescription is dispensed.

The most recent aspect of the STOP Act was implemented on January 1st, 2018, and limits the amount of opioids prescribed for acute pain. Practitioners are not able to prescribe more than five days’ worth of any Schedule II or III Opioid or Narcotic, with an exception to things like pain after surgery, where the prescription cannot for longer than seven days. The final part of the law will be implemented on January 1st, 2020, and will require practitioners to electronically prescribed targeted controlled substances, with a few exceptions.

While it is still unclear what impact the law will have on overdose deaths in the state, it appears that the State government is attempting to address this issue. While more resources could be devoted to mental health services, naloxone access and syringe exchanges, and more programs geared toward injecting drug users rather than only those who use prescription drugs, it’s commendable that a joint effort was reached to combat this ongoing epidemic.

 

Sources:

New! Summary of NC’s new opioids law, the STOP Act: North Carolina Medical Board – https://www.ncmedboard.org/resources-information/professional-resources/publications/forum-newsletter/notice/new-summary-of-ncs-new-opioids-law-the-stop-act

FAQs: The STOP Act of 2017: North Carolina Medical Board – https://www.ncmedboard.org/resources-information/professional-resources/publications/forum-newsletter/article/faqs-the-stop-act-of-2017

STOP Act Provision Takes Effect Jan. 1, Will Limit Opioid Prescriptions: NC Governor Roy Cooper – https://governor.nc.gov/news/stop-act-provision-takes-effect-jan-1-will-limit-opioid-prescriptions

STOP Act Bill Summary: North Carolina Medical Board – https://www.ncmedboard.org/images/uploads/article_images/The_STOP_Act_summary-OnLetterhead.pdf

 

In 2018, is “Time Up” for the Grammy Awards?

Last Sunday marked the 60th Annual Grammy Awards presented by the Recording Academy. After the show ended, a number of pieces were shared across the web regarding the breakdown of winners. While Award Shows such as this year’s Golden Globes offering a timely critique of the violation of power, with bold statements of (TimesUp), the Grammys seemed to stumble to acknowledge the inherent misogyny in the Music Industry.

Lorde, who was nominated for Album of the Year for (Melodrama), did not perform because she was not offered a space to perform a song from her album. All of the other nominees in the category were men, and were offered a space to perform (Important to note: Jay-Z reportedly declined an offer to perform).

At a mid-point of the evening, the President of the Recording Academy addressed viewers, and gave a speech where women were encouraged to [come forward and share their truth]. But these words did not seem to correlate with the evening’s award winners. Of the categories awarded on the live broadcast on CBS, only one went to a female artist, with Alessia Cara taking home the trophy for Best New Artist. Even this win has had its fair share of criticism, with break-out star SZA having lost to Cara, and failing to take home a single award, after being the female artist with the most nominations at five.

At the very least, this year’s Grammy Awards felt dated. Some may argue that those who are voting members of The Recording Academy are out of touch with modern music, instead basing artistic value in forms of music that are more “respectable” and “tolerable” to white male audiences. If you have yet to read about this controversy in the Music Industry, I have included some further reading below.

 

Sources:

The New York Times- Grammy 2018 Winners: Full List – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/arts/music/grammy-winners.html

Spin Magazine – Grammys Producer on Lorde-Less Show: “There’s No Way We Can Really Deal With Everybody – https://www.spin.com/2018/01/grammys-lorde-snub-theres-no-way-we-can-deal-with-everybody/

Vox – 3 Reasons Why The 2018 Grammys Fell So Flat – https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/1/29/16943952/2018-grammys-recap-awards-winners-losers-boring

Practicing Mindfulness for the Holidays

In last week’s blog, I shared a series of articles by Kesha, one of which was an essay she wrote regarding how the holidays can be a time of added stress for those living with mental illness. It’s the time of the year we are encouraged to spend with family and friends, surrounding ourselves with people who love us. But in getting caught up with all of the hustle and bustle, with all the lights and gifts, it can be easy to forget about finding time to take care of ourselves in the process.

There have been a number of posts that have appeared this semester on this blog regarding mindfulness, including one from Andrew regarding The Magic of Mindfulness, where he shared some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation.

Below I have some more resources regarding practicing mindfulness, with a specific emphasis on this time of the year. I hope that they can be of some help to all of you for taking some time for some self-care, I know I need it after this semester. With that in mind, I look forward to sharing more posts again starting in January, and wish you all a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Mindfulness Resources –

Huffington Post: The 2 C’s Of Mindfulness For Healthier, Happier Holidays – https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-4-cs-of-mindfulness-for-healthier-happier-holidays_us_5853eb22e4b0d5f48e164e76

8 Mindfulness Tips During the Holidays – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-survival/201612/8-mindfulness-tips-during-the-holidays

5 Mindful Tips for Navigating Holiday Stress – https://www.mindful.org/5-mindful-tips-navigating-holiday-stress/

From Ke$ha to Kesha: A Glitter Queen’s Ascension to Self-Care Goddess

Last week, pop-artist Kesha authored a piece for Time on the added pressure of the Holiday season for those living with Mental Illness. In the piece, she discusses the added pressures that this time of year can add, but you might be asking yourself, who is Kesha to give me life advice?

Following a year that included a highly publicized comeback single, accompanied by her second Number One album, a critically proclaimed tour, and her first Grammy nominations, one could say things are going well for the artist who’s early career was built on electro-pop and a quirky party girl aesthetic. While her new album highlights overcoming personal struggles and finding self-acceptance, it has not been all Rainbows for Kesha.

While promoting her albums upcoming release over the summer, Kesha released a series of letters to fans regarding each single that dropped, sharing an intimate and personal look into the process of how she turned her pain into art. She touched on her time in rehab for an eating disorder, her struggles with mental illness, and her decision to drop the $ from her name. Starting with a piece published in Lenny Letter opening up about depression, finding empathy, and the process of turning pain into art through Praying, to a piece from Rolling Stone where she shared about her idols and Female Empowerment in Woman, to Learning to Let Go and defining her own mantras in Huffington Post, to sharing in Mic on feeling like an outcast and her passion for equality on Hymn, and finishing with a piece in Refinery29 regarding the album’s title track, Kesha provided fans with a detailed look into her songwriting process and personal life.

In being vulnerable, Kesha not only reminds us that there is a reason to keep fighting when things are not going well, but also continues an ongoing effort to destigmatize mental health. Through her songs and her form of blogging, Kesha showed the world the destruction of perfectionism and the benefits of radical self-love.

But rest assured: I can speak from seeing her in concert this fall that our girl still loves her glitter. Here’s to continue to rooting for her to continue reaching for the stars and shining bright for her fans in years to come.

Sources:

Kesha: The Holidays Are Hard If You Struggle With Mental Illness. Don’t Blame Yourself: http://time.com/5041017/kesha-self-care-holidays/

Kesha Fights Back in Her New Single, “Praying”: http://www.lennyletter.com/culture/a904/kesha-is-back-with-a-new-single-praying/

Read Kesha’s Poignant Essay About Celebratory New Song ‘Woman”: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/premieres/read-keshas-poignant-essay-about-celebratory-new-song-woman-w491950

Learn to Let Go: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kesha-learn-to-let-go_us_59790480e4b02a8434b3841f

Read Kesha’s essay on her new single “Hymn” – a song for “people who feel like outcasts”: https://mic.com/articles/183195/kesha-essay-new-single-hymn-for-people-who-feel-like-outcasts#.D1hhvBGGM

Kesha: “What’s Left Of My Heart Is Fucking Pure Gold & No One Can Touch That”: http://www.refinery29.com/2017/08/167127/kesha-rainbow-lyrics-meaning-album-inspiration

World AIDS Day 2017

Friday, December 1st marks the annual observation of World AIDS day. Since starting in 1988, World AIDS Day has provided an opportunity to support those living with HIV, and to commemorate individuals who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. It is estimated that there are nearly 37 million people worldwide living with HIV, and more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is Let’s End It, to promote ending isolation, stigma, and HIV transmission. With advances in HIV treatment and prevention continuing to increase, the fight against stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV experience. This stigma also discourages people from getting tested for HIV. Regular HIV testing is important, since early detection of the virus, and subsequent early treatment, are vital from both an individual and a public health perspective. Those with an undetectable viral load, where the amount of HIV in their blood cannot be detected with current technologies, are unable to transmit the virus to others.

Here at UNC, the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) HIV is partnering with Student Wellness to provide Free HIV testing on Friday. The event will be in the Great Hall in the Student Union from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, testing in confidential and quick. Stop by, get tested, know your status, and help fight HIV stigma! #LetsEndIt #TarHeelsGetTested

 

Sources –

World AIDS Day – https://www.worldaidsday.org/

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance

CW: Anti-Trans Violence, Homicide mention

Yesterday, November 20th, marked Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which honors the memory of those whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender prejudice. Recognized annually on November 20th, TDOR was initially started in 1999 as a vigil to honor the life of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed a year prior. While many strides have been made in recent years in regards to trans visibility and awareness, transgender people still face violence at disproportionate levels.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there were at least 23 deaths of transgender people in the United States that were due to violence, which at that point was the highest number ever recorded. In 2017, there have been at least 25 transgender people killed by violent means. These numbers are likely much lower than the actual rate of violence, as police can sometimes release incorrect names or genders of victims.

The experiences of violence are often intersectional, most of the victims counted were non-white transgender individuals, where race, class, and gender identity create an increased risk of experiencing violence. Below I have included some additional sources for further reading, and a link to tdor.info, where they have a printable list of victims from the past year, that is often read at vigils honoring TDOR.

Sources –

GLAAD: Transgender Day of Remembrance – https://www.glaad.org/tdor

Human Rights Campaign: Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2017 – https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017

The New York Times: Violence Against Transgender People Is on the Rise, Advocates Say – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/us/transgender-women-killed.html

International Transgender Day of Remembrance – https://tdor.info/

Halloween Candy and the crux of Added Sugars

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays: with the costumes, fascination with the occult, the wonderful fall weather and fall themed foods, and one of my favorite vices being the candy. While I would argue that it’s the chocolate that I love, my sweet tooth cravings are most likely for sugar.

According to the American Heart Association, adult males are recommended not to consume more than 36 grams of sugar per day, while the recommendations for adult females is 25 grams. With that in mind, where does that leave some of our favorite Halloween Candy?

According to a recent study by FiveThirtyEight, the most popular Halloween Candy in the U.S. is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, with the top five being rounded out by Reese’s Miniatures, Twix, Kit Kat, and Snickers. Below are the sugar content in grams for each of the top 5 candies in the fun-size portions, except where otherwise noted:

Candy Sugar Content
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 10.5 grams
Reese’s Miniatures (3 pieces) 10 grams
Twix 8.5 grams
Kit Kat 7 grams
Snickers 8.5 grams

 

The key here is that we should enjoy our Halloween Candy in Moderation. Often for myself, Halloween starts the downward spiral of unhealthy eating that lasts into the new year. In order to combat this, I am going to (attempt) to cut out added sugar from my diet for the three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving. While skipping the half-priced post Halloween candy deals will be difficult, I am hoping to use this time to become more aware of the amount of added sugar I consume on a daily basis (just don’t ask me how many mini snickers I ate yesterday). For anyone who is interested in this, I have included a link in the sources below to a guide to a sugar detox. Happy Halloween!

 

Sources:

American Heart Association: Added Sugars –  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.Wfc9CGiPLD4

FiveThirtyEight: The Ultimate Halloween Candy Power Ranking –

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-ultimate-halloween-candy-power-ranking/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

Daily Burn: Sugar Detox Diet –

http://dailyburn.com/life/health/sugar-detox-diet/

Smoking Disparities among LGBTQ Populations

Recently, I was in a LGTBQ establishment, having a conversation with a friend during a night out, when a tobacco company representative kindly offered us a $2 off coupon for a pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, I accepted the coupon out of curiosity, having had similar experiences in other Queer spaces previously. For those that are not aware, tobacco is fairly engrained in Queer nightlife, most of the people that I know personally who smoke are either LGBTQ identified, or those who live back home in rural Michigan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 6 heterosexually identified adults in the United States are smokers, compared to Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual adults where the smoking rate is nearly 1 in 4. For transgender individuals, there is little research to know what the smoking prevalence is.

The research on smoking rates among LGBTQ individuals in general has grown more recently, with one study noting the overlap between LGBTQ individuals living in rural Appalachia. Bennett, Ricks, and Howell found that among the LGB individuals, many of them lived with high levels of stress due to their isolated location and living within their identities in those rural areas. Many of those interviewed noted that tobacco smoking is connected to both stress and social structures, though did not seem as aware of how their LGBTQ identity and ability to be “out” as something that may contribute to smoking.

I may be one to have to occasional cigarette, and like my love for sugar, I’m aware of how that makes me appear as a hypocritical public health professional. On the flip side, I think we can all agree that nobody is perfect, and I hope that my owning of my imperfections highlights the level of transparency that I try to bring into my work.

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons and Tobacco Use: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/lgbt/index.htm

Bennett, K., Ricks, J. M., & Howell, B. .. (2014). ‘It’s just a way of fitting in:’ Tobacco use and the lived experience of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Appalachians. Journal Of Health Care For The Poor And Underserved25(4), 1646-1666. doi:10.1353/hpu.2014.0186

Impostor Experience: The Advice I Keep Giving Myself in Graduate School

Impostor experience is characterized as having an inability to internalize one’s accomplishments, where those who experience it feel that they are a fraud, that they have somehow deceived others to believe that they are smarter than they actually are. These feelings occur even when contradicted by success, often crediting luck or good timing over their own hard work and effort. And it is quite prevalent in academic spaces.

When I started my graduate career, I was lucky enough to have professors who were well aware of this topic, encouraging students to reach out when they needed to, reminding us that we all have expertise to contribute to the classroom, we all have a space.

As a first generation college student, I still have moments almost daily where I feel like I don’t belong, that this isn’t really the place for me. Sometimes it’s a simple comment, someone in class sharing an experience, like “Oh my dad’s a doctor”. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are two of the hardest working people I know. But there are constantly reminders for me that in pursuing a graduate degree, I’m taking a career path that not many people who knew me as a child could even imagine.

Below I’ve attached some resources that I have found particularly helpful at some low points in my academic career. But what has helped the most for me is opening up to my friends and classmates, and realizing that I am not the only one having these feelings. I’m writing this because I’m not perfect at taking my own advice, I still need to step back and use some of these strategies, and I still need to practice opening up when I’m struggling.

Sources:

APA Cover Story: Feel like a fraud? http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Impostor Syndrome is Definitely a Thing: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Impostor-Syndrome-Is/238418