Author Archives: Savannah Stalnaker

Nonbinary VS Trans-trenders

Hello all! Like many of us, I spend a lot of time on youtube, and recently I have found a new discourse: are nonbinary people real, or are there just two genders and nonbinary people are just pretending?



First, let’s get some definitions out of the way, for those who aren’t quite up to date on current LGBT vocabulary. Cis is someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned as, while trans is not.  Nonbinary people are those who identify outside of male and female. Sex is what is your genitals/what you were called when you were born. Gender is what you identify as. Lastly, a trans-trender is someone who pretends to be trans for attention.

Now, psychology has proved that trans people are real, and that sex has nothing to do with your gender, which is stated in the link above along with the definitions. So, first I will present what being trans is, the possible motivation of trans-trenders, and then see if nonbinary people are real and is it a valid gender.

Trans people suffer from gender dysphoria, which is the feeling people often describe as feeling as though “you were born in the wrong body/gender”. Gender dysphoria is the very thing that causes people to identify as a different gender. Gender dysphoria is a mental illness, and the cure is transitioning. I have seen many people often ask why some trans people don’t get “the surgery”, and the answer is trans people do not transition for the public, but rather to alleviate their own self-hatred and mental illness. This is where trans-trenders differ.

Trans-trenders don’t transition at all, more often than not identify as nonbinary, and will often times argue that there is no need to have gender dysphoria, which is where my confusion sets in. I will admit that at one point, I agreed with this thought because I thought this was saying that the public cannot police how trans people exist, but see, if a person has no gender dysphoria, then why would they identify as another gender? Now, this could very well be to a misunderstanding, as gender dysphoria does not have to be physical. As I said, gender has nothing to do with one’s physical body, but rather how they feel and mentally identify, so their dysphoria could be mental. However, I do have a theory as to why people might feel the need to identify as trans when they are not.

There’s a website called tumblr, and while I’ve been on there for four+ years and enjoy my time on that platform, there is a very toxic area on the website that hates privileged people, and believe white, cis people are scum, and even though “down with cis” was a joke, too many took it seriously.  Now, I will say that I’m not cis gendered myself, but I can definitely see why they loud hatred of cis people can make someone want to hide from that label. Why else would someone willingly subject themselves to transphobia? Do these people just not realize how many trans people are attacked, harassed, and more likely to be killed? Now as to why most of these trans-trenders identify as nonbinary? I have a theory that it’s just easier to look androgynous than the opposite sex.

Now, my next question is, are nonbinary people real? I have yet to see the trans community hate nonbinary people, in fact the only youtubers I personally have seen have been cis men with commentary channels, and the trans community seems to overall accept this identity pretty much completely. But does science?

As I stated before, psychology supports that gender has nothing to do with psychology, which is stated on page as I stated above, which would open the doors to more than two genders. This article goes over the experience of being nonbinary, and discusses gender dysphoria and transition processes, which would make them trans by definition, as I discussed before.

The main argument that I see besides nonbinary people are trans-trenders is that many people just deny their existence or say it isn’t possible. Now, I find this unlikely, as there are older people who identify outside the gender binary, making it unlikely it is something teenagers with underdeveloped brains do, and the state of Oregon, one can legally identify as nonbinary.  Now, in order for a state to justify this gender, surely there must be some sense behind it? I don’t understand how many people can just deny it isn’t possible to identify as nonbinary, but it is legally in Oregon.

The way I see it is, nonbinary is a real and valid gender, and people can identify as it, but the gender has unfortunately been used by people who wish to be apart of the LGBT+ community either for attention or to avoid being harassed on the internet, only to be harassed more for identifying as trans.




After not sleeping for two days in a row, and having in the past struggled with getting even five hours of sleep at the most, this topic seemed inspiring. I wish to explore the effects of insomnia. Does not sleeping have any positive effects?

According to WebMd, insomnia is extremely likely to cause the sleepless person to develop depression and anxiety. Though in my mind, it makes much more sense for it to be the reverse, with depressive or anxious thoughts keeping someone up. Either way, sleeplessness is a very common to be paired up with depression and anxiety, so these two do go hand-in-hand. If your sleeplessness starts as all-nighters for exams and completely screws up your sleeping schedule, you are likely to develop anxiety and depression, and likewise if you have anxiety or depression, sleep may become increasingly difficult.

Some other effects WebMd covers is forgetfulness, weight gain, and that without sleep, you are more likely to die sooner. In fact, any positives I was able to find are not scientific what so ever, but this list I found was fun to say the least. I can definitely relate that some of my best work (particularly art pieces) came from sleepless nights.

Sleep is fairly important, so I should probably stop falling asleep at 4 AM.

Psychology of Telltale Games

Many people have spoken about the negative effects of video games and how they elicit violence and sexism. Today, I want to talk about Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and the psychological effects this game has. Season three of this game is coming out soon, and this game has an amazing way of analyzing your character and eliciting empathy.



The Walking Dead is well known for being a game where your choices affect how your story plays out and how characters interact with you. Despite playing as a character, the game gives you such well written dialogue and actions to choose from, you really feel as though you are playing as yourself. Have you ever been frustrated with a video character and said something along the lines of “I’ll kill you/you’re dead to me”? This game gives you the opportunity to kill those characters, and when you are faced with that opportunity, it can show you a lot about your own character. And at the end of each episode, this game shows you a percentage of people who made each choice, so you can either feel reassured or guilty based on the choices you made.

This game will make you question yourself, sympathize with others, and build real connections with these fictional characters. How can a video game connect with people so well and make them feel an amazing amount of feeling?

This article outlines the psychology behind the game, breaking down the exact mechanisms this game uses on our psyhce. The main mechanism being mirror neurons, which are motor cells that cause us to move, but these particular neurons are also affected by other people’s movements, allowing us to empathize with other’s movements such as frowning or crying. This game has a very stylized animation, similar to how a comic book would play out. There are a lot of close ups to character’s expressions, the camera zooms in during dramatic scenes to display a character reaction to serious news.

This also ties into how each scene is framed. Often times composition of artwork of scenes in movies affect mood. Diagonals are more appealing and interesting, as diagonal lines are more likely to take up more room than a straight line down the middle of the page or screen. Let’s look at this scene specifically.



Here, Kenny is crying due to possibly the saddest death in the game. He is characterized as gruff and the main emotion he displays is anger, never really showing sadness or remorse. He is one of the only characters to cry in this game. Take a look at the color pallet, Kenny himself is made up of mostly cool colors besides his hat. The whole screen is covered in darkness other than his tears and the small flecks of sunlight shining through the leaves of the trees. His skin is shaded with a sort of blue-stone grey, giving his expression a sullen look. These cool and dark colors give this scene a very cold and depressing mood, as such colors and shadows tend to be associated with sadness. Because his facial hair and shirt are similar colors, they draw the eye around the screen, allowing the player to take in Kenny’s image fully.

This also perfectly displays the rule of thirds, which is an important rule for artists. This rule allows the image to become balanced and fill up the complete image. Most amateur artists place the subject in the middle, allowing the piece to be too easily digestible, and giving the piece no interesting twist to keep the viewer observing.



Here, Kenny’s eyes are the main focal point, really putting emphasis on his tearful expression, placed in the same place where the bee’s eye is. We can also observe that all of the diagonals are pointing to Kenny’s face as well, such as his body is tilted upwards, allowing his torso to point to his face.

Through color theory and framing facial expressions in such a way that they cannot be ignored, this game puts a huge emphasis on emotions, and thus cause the player to mirror those emotions.

Puppy Love


Here’s my dog. Her name is Dot, she’s about seven years old in that picture, and I love her very much. Having been away from her during this semester, I grow more and more excited to see her again, and so I started to remember all of her little quirks. Dot eats when my family eats, and will whine if we don’t put food in her bowl even if she ate right before we did. When my mom goes to bed, and I stay up to finish up any class work, Dot will stay with mom until she falls asleep and come back to the room I’m working in. She’ll stay with me until I finish and sees me go to bed. She would normally sleep with my mother or father, but about a month before I went to college she would sleep with me as if she knew I was leaving soon. Despite all of this, I began to wonder: Does she actually love me? So today I want to explore: Do dogs love their owners?

According to this article, scientists say dogs view us as family, which would explain Dot eating when we eat and waiting until everyone is safe in bed until she sleeps. Dogs depend on us now more than their own species for affection and protection.

This article outlines a study which shows dogs recognize their owners. When dogs were presented with the scent their owner, a stranger, a dog they knew, a dog they never met, and their own scent, the only scent that activated the caudate nucleus was that of their owner. The caudate nucleus is the part of the brain that reacts to familiar stimulants. I deduce the reason why dogs were able to recognize their owners but not a dog they met before is most likely due to the fact that dogs are around their owners far more often than the neighbor’s dog or a dog they met at the park, and so the dog would react more strongly to their owners than that dog. Think of it like eating a food you grew up on and a food you had for the first time last week. Despite having ate both foods before, you would be able to recognize the food you ate throughout childhood due to repeated exposure.

So dogs rely on us and recognize our scent, but I feel like that may not be enough to prove they love us.

Dr. Paul Zak references a few studies that show dogs and their owners release oxytocin when interacting, which he also states a way to measure love in mammals is to measure the oxytocin released during different interactions.



This article outlines the functionality of ocytocin, and defines the hormone as a neurotransmitter often associated with love, and is released during physical activities such as hugging, cuddling, sex, and breastfeeding. The hormone allows us to trust others and form bonds, as well as relax and reduce anxiety.

So by this, we can deduce that we have a mutual relationship of trust and relaxation when cuddling with our puppies. That peaceful feeling I get when Dot gives me kisses and falls asleep with her chin resting on my knee as she waits for me to finish work, I can now confidently say Dot most likely feels the same way when I pet and hold her.


A while back in class, we talked about the effects of worms had on the learning student, and the effects medication had on “wormy kids”, and studies showed that kids without worms tended to do better in school than kids without worms.  This reminded me of a disorder with similar effects in learning.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that affects memory, attentiveness, and behavior. Many believe that it is just a disorder for children, and some believe it is a fake disorder altogether. Unlike the worms, this disorder has no easily physical symptom hat makes it easier to understand. The worms were easy to understand as the worms were physically there, effecting the children. But a mental disorder which no one can see without a brain scan is much more difficult to understand, and this goes with many mental disorders. When someone has a cold, people can see they are unwell. When someone has depression, people just see the lethargic person struggling to get out of bed for no visible reason.



Here is the visual representation of ADHD, showing the brain activity of someone with ADHD and without. Of course, people cannot see this difference just by looking at someone with ADHD. Some who have worked with mentally ill people before can recognize behavioral differences, but no one can certainly tell if someone has ADHD without being tested and diagnosed, and this goes for any mental disorder as well.

Now while there is physical proof of people having the disorder, some claim ADHD does not need medication. As someone with ADHD, and spent over a year struggling with the disorder without medication, I could say that from experience that medication has helped, but again some require visual proof.



Here we can see that medication, specifically Adderall, does increase the lacking brain activity caused by ADHD, which is the medication I used to be on for quite a long time until switching to something better suited for me.

Without medication, I can say for certain that I would not have been able to be in this college. I probably wouldn’t have even thought to apply, knowing I wouldn’t be accepted with my academic performance. My fourth grade teacher told my mother some children were not made to be successful, and she did not believe I had a disorder. She thought I was just a failure, and I thought so too until I was diagnosed and received medication. My grades went from C’s to all A’s, the time it took me to complete homework went from 3 AM to 8 PM every night, and I no longer had to make other students wait for me to finish taking notes because it took me so long to write. Before taking my medication, my failures made me suicidal. I wished to die at eight-years-old because my brain functioned differently and i believed it was my fault, but now I realize that my brain had a chemical imbalance; my brain simply did not produce as many neurotransmitters as others, and this medication make my brain make more.

This disorder does not only affect children, but rather the symptoms begin to show at a young age, and typically children do not know how to control hyper activity as easily and school work tends to demonstrate inattentiveness than a job. For instance, it is much easier for a child to begin to zone out in class than a teen who is working at fast food. Many jobs have varying tasks that must be completed, and these tasks help stimulate the mind way better than sitting in class for hours would.

Also, classes today require more at a younger age. Books that were required to read in later in high school are now required books for older middle school children. When I had to buy my required summer reading books in junior year, my mother’s boyfriend said that he didn’t have to read that until college.



The advancement in medicine has also caused the frequency of diagnosis in this disorder, as well as others, to spike. With better information on how to recognize a disorder, the diagnosis will go up. ADHD has always been this common, it has only just now become more easy to diagnose and treat. As we begin to recognize these symptoms, we are also able to diagnose this disorder earlier in a person’s life so they do not have to suffer through life with an undiagnosed disorder, and children can hopefully live a relatively normal life virtually without worry.

With large amounts of un-engaging school work and the advancement in the ability to recognize this disorder, ADHD has become more commonly diagnosed. With these situations, it would appear that the disorder is only found in children, and is being at least exaggerated as this disorder was not diagnosed as often in the past, but that simply isn’t the case.

ADHD does exist, the medication does help, and people are being more frequently diagnosed today is because doctors are able to diagnose people better and with more accuracy as science evolves.

The Science of Art

(Note: Since my portfolio focused on 2D artwork, that will be my main focus when referring to art.)

Art. Many people who study art are ones to day they have a disdain towards science and math, which is understandable from a basic point of view. Art seems to be very free and comes naturally to those who create it (the reason being they have created artwork for years. After making art for ten years you eventually become good at it. But that is a different rant for a different day). However, art is very scientific. There are very basic sort of “formulas” almost all artists follow or eventually learn. Lets focus on the main basis for composition: Rule of Thirds.

First, composition basically means the placement of a subject in art. As stated by Lori McNee, The Rule of Thirds is a guide to know where to put the subject, as portrayed by the green dots in this image:


Now, despite how most artwork can look completely different from one another, almost all artists follow this rule. Here are some pieces of mine II made last year that, despite all having different subjects, moods, sizes, and mediums (that being what the artwork is made out of), each follow this rule:





(Note: never bind your chest with ace bandages. Doing so will damage your ribs and breast tissue. This was a portrayal of the pain trans youth will put themselves through to fight gender dysphoria as a part of my portfolio focusing on life struggles, and should not be copied. Use a binder made for trans people who wish to flatten their chest. Stay safe, please.)

Now, lets dissect these pieces, and note the most interesting places that fall within the rule of thirds. In the first image, the two main points are the right eye, and the ear. The second, the hand near the face the elbow, and the text. The last, the area where the hand pulls the bandages, the right shoulder, and the knuckle of the pinkie finger of the other hand holding the bandages in place. Compare this to an old piece of mine back before I learned this rule. This piece was made sophomore year.


Notice how this piece is far more boring to look at. There is nothing moving the eye around the piece because the subject is right in the middle. The other pieces had movement, the various focal points drawing the eye across the piece. The various colors also helped with this effect, such as with the pink in the dog painting, or the blue shading in the others. This piece has four colors: blue, purple, maroon, and orange. All placed in the same area throughout the piece. Blue being the center, purple being the top center, and the others surrounding. This was my best piece that year. Now, it is not completely hopeless. Perhaps if the back ground had splatters of blue or purple it would be more interesting, because the contrast of warm and cold colors is quite nice, but there is nothing attracting the eye to any other area other than the subject. Not even an interesting highlight, as the source of light seems to he hitting the face from the front.

Not having the subject in the middle of the piece forces the viewer to look at multiple points of focus, rather than having the viewer be bluntly hit with  subject right in the middle with nothing else to focus on. The Rule of Thirds allows the viewer to look at the details of the piece, each focal point being something interesting.

That is the basic formula behind almost every piece of artwork. Look at some art and try to see what your eye focuses on first, second, third, and fourth. See if there are similar colors at these points that stand out on a completely different color. And if you struggle with trying to make a subject of a piece more interesting, zoom in, draw or paint the subject at an angle for a more interesting perspective, and try to line up important aspects at these four points.

Science Major?

Hello there! I am Savannah Stalnaker, and I am a psychology major. Psychology is technically a science, or rather a scientific study of the brain and behavior. My goal is to become a clinical psychologist, where I want to help people cope with mental illnesses as a therapist. At first, I thought I might want to be a counseling psychologist, but they do not typically work with mentally ill people, instead they help people transition through life. The two overlap heavily, but I want to use my skills to help people and I wish to study mental disorders.

So why would I take this course when it really does not correlate with psychology all that often? Well, I am not very interested in chemistry, and while I enjoyed physics in high school that was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken and I got my fill in on momentum and calculating the force of gravity the moon has on a 102 kg child on earth. I am done with that.

However, I enjoy debates, and the class description I read during orientation sounded very open-discussion based, and more so discussing theories rather than spewing out facts in a monotone voice for over an hour, the only other sound being pencils on paper and the occasional cough or sneeze. I am interested in the topics we are discussing in class, and I feel like this course will actually help me in life rather than knowing how to calculate how far away a ball of a certain weight would land from the base of the cliff of a particular height if you were to stand on top of it and throw the object with a specific velocity.