The Proletarian | Fight against trans erasure nationally, locally

Incorrectly defining gender as a binary will destroy purpose of Title IX


On Oct. 21, the Trump administration announced that they intend to narrow the definition of gender to being solely based on genitals at birth, as reported by The New York Times. This will effectively erase the reality of trans folk from the law books, and this is unacceptable.

Trans_Erasure_Protest_Silent_March (1)
Students march silently through the campus towards the Chancellor’s office. Courtesy: Ethan Costello

The memo put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was obtained by The New York Times. It states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” Immutable is not how the world works. Immutable is unscientific. Immutable ignores history and material reality. The biological and medical research done on gender studies supports a complex definition of sex and gender. An article published on Business Insider reports very clearly that there are multiple layers to the development of a newborn’s gender. Genetic males with XY chromosomes may be resistant to male hormones. Genetic females with XX chromosomes may develop with male hormones. Even at the most foundational level of genetic gender, there can be a variety of chromosomal combinations which already shows the diversity of gender beyond the binary. There are many different documented conditions which affect the development of a person’s genitals. There are roughly 1.4 million folks in the United States who identify as transgender, or intersex. By attempting to legally define sex as fixed based on genitals at birth, Trump and the HHS seek to erase 1.4 million from reality.

The proposal released by the HHS will also specifically affect Title IX laws. Title IX is a civil rights law which gives protections to students against discrimination in schools and universities. Along with Betsy DeVos’ push to alter Title IX to give more protections to accused sexual assaulters on college campuses, this is another backwards, regressive measure.

This is top-down bureaucracy at its finest. The officials at the head of the state have no connection to the trans masses. Trans folk cannot and are not adequately represented. Especially in this administration, relations are starkly antagonistic towards trans folk. Of course, this country has never been kind to trans folk.

We must fight against this proposal whenever we can. We must fight against Trump whenever we can. If this proposal is passed, it will put hundreds of thousands of people—trans people—at risk legally, mentally and physically. The fight must continue on our campus. In the past few years, LGBTQ student organization Rainbow Alliance had been calling on campus administration to include more gender neutral bathrooms on campus to better fit the needs of the community. This can easily be done by cheap renovations to pre-existing restrooms. There have been two modified on campus within the past three years, but it is still inadequate accommodations. So the fight continues to install other restrooms in Greenquist and Molinaro halls.

Last week on Oct. 31, Students for a Democratic Society stood with Rainbow Alliance in protest of the Trump administrations trans-erasure proposal. After demonstrating and chanting, we silently marched through campus to the Chancellor’s office to bring Rainbow Alliance’s request to the forefront. If Chancellor Ford stands with the trans community on campus, she will act on this request personally. Not only will this show the administration’s solidarity with trans folk against Trump, but this will also create a safer campus and set an important precedent which may lead towards building trust between students and administration.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | Journalist killed by Saudis calls attention to genocide in Yemen

The war-for-profit is supported by U.S. and why you should care


The U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia is one built on profit and a mutual goal of undermining the upward movement of working people internationally. The recent breaking news calls attention to the backwardness of U.S. politicians and corporations.

Copy of JamalKhashoggi
Protesters demanding the status of Jamal Khashoggi after his disappearance and before news of his murder.                                        Courtesy:

Earlier this month, NPR broke the news that a Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was confirmed murdered by the Saudi government. Khashoggi has been a long time critic of the Saudi government, a monarchy-dictatorship. This sudden revelation has caused many proponents of Saudi Arabia to pull their investments and their support from the country in outrage at this atrocity. If only this reaction came sooner.

Khashoggi’s death is tragic. Let us understand this moment in history within the broader context of U.S.-Saudi relations. Vox reported that the Saudi Arabian government requested U.S. aid in 2015 for war efforts against ‘rebels’ in Yemen. These rebels are of a group known as the Houthis who have been historically oppressed by the Yemeni government.

Yet, it turned out that many of these targets had little to no military weight in the region and were near public buildings and residential areas. The Saudi government began their war in Yemen and—shocker—bombed neighborhoods, hospitals and schools. The United States initially abstained their support of the Saudis after the war began in Yemen, but soon offered aid to Saudi Arabia, allegedly to secure a deal with them against Iran. As a result, the war has killed thousands of civilians and decimated communities.

What does the war against Yemen by the Saudi Arabian government have to do with the death of Khashoggi? Khashoggi has been a long-time outspoken voice against the Saudis, specifically the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, because of their human rights violations and imperialist-like warmongering. Apparently, the Crown Prince did not like this very much, and silenced Khashoggi permanently.

So, we have genocide in Yemen by the Saudis. The United States is known to have supported this war with military aid. And yet, even after the death of Khashoggi, the U.S. government continues to support the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Why? Pat Robertson, a prominent conservative, answers it quite plainly: money. Robertson claims that there is $100 million on the line. $100 million that none of the majority (the working people) in the States will never see. It is important to understand that war makes money, but not for me and you. The arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia have filled the coffers of the politicians and officials of weapons manufacturers. There is literal genocide happening in the twenty-first century in Yemen, and the response from heads of state is to shrug it off because they are not willing to lose their money and their dominance over the international working class. Let us show solidarity for the Houthi people in Yemen and make it known that we do not support their war of oppression. In solidarity.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | Education for all! Fight to end budget cuts!


Last May I had the pleasure of attending a student-led action directly outside the state capitol building in Madison. The fight against the budget cuts slashing through our school system brought students, teachers, administrators and university faculty together, despite the overcast skies and down-pouring rain. In our rally outside the capitol, student speakers stood their ground and defended public education for all. Afterwards, we marched into the capitol building to deliver our letter of demands to Gov. Scott Walker’s office. It’s been about 4 months and it’s clear our letter has not been answered.


9-26-18 Image
Students from UW-Stout, Oshkosh, Parkside, Superior and others rallied outside the Capital building May 9, 2018. 

This rally came after a series of events happening within a short period of time: the proposal of the system-wide campus merger, the weak

ening of shared governance which gives certain rights to student and faculty governing bodies and the blatant dismissal of student government by the UW System President. This last part refers to sometime last year when student government associations across the state put in formal requests to give input in the merger process since the agenda would directly affect students. President Ray Cross had some different ideas about shared governance, taking the stance that it is not their place. In a private email correspondence reported on early last year, Cross seemed intent on ignoring students’ rights. Although students were eventually granted a seat at the decision making table, no direct voting rights were granted to the student representatives.

So, where does that leave us? And why are we here in the first place with these funding cuts? The Board of Regents, nearly all with ties to big money interests and all appointed by Gov. Walker, claim to be addressing decreased enrollment across the UW System. A lack of enrollment apparently does not make for a good investment.

I have yet to see a study on why students are not enrolling, and I’m sure there are a number of reasons(if you have data, please email me). One of them is the growing cost of living compounded with the unreasonably high cost of tuition. Working young folk seeking to go to college can’t afford both, often having to rely on federal financial aid. Even with aid, many students struggle. Education should be free for all seeking it. Maybe if our state would fund education—and everyone knows the money was there all along in the arrival of Foxconn—we’d see enrollments rise once again. But here we are, dealing with the consequences of Wisconsin’s ruling class’s mistake: decreased funding to public education, yet again.

Each student needs to decide for themselves if this is how we should allow ourselves to be treated. If the decision-makers at the top can’t decide to respect us with proper funding, maybe we should respect ourselves enough to do something, say something, about it.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

“Chunks”: The essence of experience by Herman Aguirre

Emerging Chicago artist is featured in UW-Parkside Fountain Gallery  


This fall, the UW–Parkside Foundation Gallery has been hosting the work of Herman Aguirre, an emerging artist from Chicago. The opening reception for the exhibit, “Chunks”,’ was Sept. 12 and will be on view until Oct 16.

Emerging artist

“Chunks” is a collection of oil paintings, half of which Aguirre describes as autobiographical and half of which he describes as a commentary on contemporary events and culture. The subject matter spans from personal, daily life in Chicago to disturbing, historical incidents in various cities in Mexico. Aguirre’s aim is clearly communicated in his public artist statement and executed in mission: “Through the various techniques and applications, I try and capture the essence of experience.”

Crafting chaos

The exhibit pieces are intensely textured, characterized by copious layers of oil paint gouged out and spread bluntly to shape somewhat tenebrous portraits and depictions of severely traumatic events. Both the application of the media and the content of the pieces point to the raw, tactile chaos of each situation or subject. The gritty mounds of material bring the brutality of emotional pain to surface, as if to name the intangible by a malleable flesh of color and consistency.

Considering the omitted

After viewing the collection, Andre Perez, a Senior at UW–Parkside said,  “I could feel a sense of being trapped, stuck in a certain lifestyle or situation. It was grimy and held evidence of a lot of unfortunate crime. If I could describe the exhibit in three words, they would be gray, struggle and rush.” Another student, Alyssa Goroski, a UW–Parkside English major, responded to the work saying, “It was interesting because in some instances it was less about what stood out of the painting and more about what failed to stand out in the painting. It drew attention to what was missing. What comes to my mind, overall, is a sad nostalgia—looking at the events and people portrayed, lots of things were dead or dying…but there was a certain amount of reverence for whatever those things were.”

Drug consumption and cartel

Although not stated explicitly, several of the non-autobiographical works depict the effects of drugs on communities, not only from the standpoint of negative consequences for the American locale, but also for the third world countries the United States drug consumers buy from, perpetuating a violent cycle. “I hear about innocent children getting killed and about people who are not even affiliated with the drug trade being shot. It worries me because nothing is really changing, and the violence is growing,” Aguirre stated. One piece in particular portrays a scene of soldiers gathering around a line of bodies in the aftermath of a bloody exchange between Mexican soldiers and cartel members.

Visit the gallery

Other works in the exhibit explore identity, culture and mourning. In explaining his process, Aguirre said, “I’ve always been interested in ways I could make something real and horrific and honest, but at the same time, more accessible to people and beautiful in a way; beautiful and grotesque. That’s the way I stand in the way I approach a painting.” Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to view this work on campus until Oct 16. More work is available at

“Proverbs”: A meditation through the lens of Robert Ellis

Irish photographer is featured in UW – Parkside Mathis Gallery


A thoughtful body of work featuring the rural landscape of Namulanda, Uganda and the surrounding community is open for viewing in the Mathis Gallery through Oct 18.

A sanctuary

Robert Ellis’ exhibit, “Proverbs,” presents onlookers with a sanctuary of images to sit in and search through.  This project refrains from iterating worn platitudes, framing any one story or claiming affinity with a particular idea. Instead, it is positioned as an exploration of a place, a people and over distances of time.

Unhurried and thoughtful

As an artist from Dublin, Ireland, Ellis first went to Nagenda International Academy of Art & Design in Uganda to teach as a stranger. His ongoing work there as a visiting lecturer and Artist in Residence has allowed for this project to develop gradually through personal relationships with the community and landscape. Effectively presenting changes through aesthetic variation, one subject is captured multiple times, over the span of several years, showing the maturing of his face, shift in clothing and slight turn in surroundings.

Listening to proverbs

In addition to the invitation to consider the reminiscent past and present through still frames, the exhibit includes a three screen video sequence looping behind a black curtain. The only audio components are of quiet, natural sounds and proverbs spoken intermittently in English and in a few of Uganda’s many indigenous languages. These Proverbs bear significance on the body of work, as Uganda has rendered the power of spoken work as a method of storytelling passed down through generations.  

Sense of life and solidarity

After viewing the exhibit for the first time, Gabrielle Tucker, a UW–Parkside sophomore, stated, “I get the sense of life in everything. With the name ‘Proverbs’ in mind, I’ve gravitated toward the image next to the man in blue, at the tree and considering it in view of the biblical idea of the tree of life. I also got the sense in watching the looping film, as it showed the ants working in daily life.” Tyler Steinsdorfer, a senior at UW–Parkside,  commented that, “It’s like the pictures want you try to find the meaning of solidarity…the way the man is looking off to the side, it’s as if he wants you try to find the meaning of solidarity but also…understand what has happened there.”

Visit the Gallery

Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to view this work on campus until Oct. 18. More work is available at