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Highly gender nonconforming teens at greater risk of bullying and violence, study finds

A study that investigated gender expression and victimization of youth aged 13-18 found that the most gender nonconforming students reported higher levels of being bullied, were more likely to report missing school because they feel unsafe, and are most likely to report being victimized with a weapon on school property.

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Punished for being (too) different.

A study that investigated gender expression and victimization of youth aged 13-18 found that the most gender nonconforming students reported higher levels of being bullied and were more likely to report missing school than their more gender-conforming peers because they feel unsafe. They are also the most likely to report being victimized with a weapon on school property.

The study – titled “Gender Expression, Violence, and Bullying Victimization: Findings from Probability Samples of High School Students in 4 School Districts” – was published in Journal of School Health, and co-authored by Allegra R. Gordon, Kerith J. Conron, Jerel P. Calzo, Matthew T. White, Sari L. Reisner and S. Bryn Austin.

“Gender nonconforming” is a term used to describe people who do not conform to societal expectations for masculine or feminine appearance and/or behavior.

For this study, researchers analyzed data collected from 5,469 students ages 13-18 from four urban school districts, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and Broward County, Florida. Respondents were 51% Hispanic/Latino, 21% black/African American, and 14% white.

This study measured gender expression by asking adolescents how they thought people at school would describe their “appearance, style, dress or the way they walk or talk along a continuum of very feminine to very masculine.” Girls who responded that they were seen as very masculine and boys who responded that they were seen as very feminine were categorized as “highly gender nonconforming”.

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It is worth stressing that gender nonconformity may not necessarily be linked with a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, with lead author Allegra Gordon, a research scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital, noting that “majority of nonconforming youth were heterosexual”.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The more gender nonconforming a student is, the more likely he/she is to experience in-school and electronic bullying than other students. Most notably, reports of being bullied increased with each level of gender nonconformity measured, so that “each step towards the most gender nonconforming end of the spectrum was associated with 15% greater odds of being bullied”.
  • Among highly gender nonconforming students, 14.4% of girls and 23.5% of boys reported having been in a fight in the past year prior to the study.
  • While highly conforming students (or those who thought they were seen to present themselves based on social expectations) were also at risk of being in a fight, it was worth noting that the “likelihood of having been in a fight was the highest among the most gender nonconforming students”.
  • 36% of highly gender nonconforming girls were likely to be victimized with a weapon (while the moderately gender nonconforming girls are only at 4%).

Lead author Gordon thereby stressed “the importance of creating violence prevention programs that address gender expression in addition to sexuality and gender identity.”

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Health & Wellness

Almost half of gay men encounter intimate partner violence

Abuse among gay couples stems from stress factors that also apply to heterosexual couples, such as money issues, unemployment, and drug abuse. However, gay couples are said to face additional stress from internalized homophobia, which may also contribute to IPV.

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Not just women’s issue.

Nearly half of men in same-sex couples suffered some form of abuse at the hands of their partner, according to a study that surveyed 320 men (160 male couples) in Atlanta, Boston and Chicago in the US to measure emotional abuse, controlling behaviors, monitoring of partners, and HIV-related abuse.

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The study – “Dyadic Reporting of Intimate Partner Violence Among Male Couples in Three U.S. Cities” by Nicolas A. Suarez, Matthew J. Mimiaga, Robert Garofalo, Emily Brown, Anna Marie Bratcher, Taylor Wimbly, Marco A. Hidalgo, Samuel Hoehnle, Jennie Thai, Erin Kahle, Patrick S. Sullivan and Rob Stephenson – found that 46% experience some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the last year, belying the misconception that this is only a woman’s issue.

“If you just looked at physical and sexual violence in male couples, it’s about 25% to 30%, roughly the same as women,” study author Rob Stephenson was quoted as saying by Webmd.com. “We’re stuck in this mental representation of domestic violence as a female victim and a male perpetrator, and while that is very important, there are other forms of domestic violence in all types of relationships.”

Abuse among gay couples stems from stress factors that also apply to heterosexual couples, such as money issues, unemployment, and drug abuse. However, gay couples are said to face additional stress from internalized homophobia, which may also contribute to IPV.

Another abuse factor related specifically to male couples is the degree of “outedness,” which the study says can create a dynamic of “bidirectional violence as well as creating a power imbalance where the ‘out’ partner may threaten to disclose his partner’s sexual orientation and lead to further violence.

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HIV-related issues also surface in gay abusive relationships, particularly if there is lack of communication about HIV status and if one of the partners is unable to enforce condom use as a form of protection.

This study actually only backs earlier findings on IPV in LGBTQIA relationships. For instance, in Associations Between Alcohol Use and Intimate Partner Violence Among Men Who Have Sex with Men, published in LGBT Health, Davis Alissa, Kaighobadi Farnaz, Stephenson Rob, Rael Christine and Sandfort Theodorus noted that although alcohol use is a known trigger of IPV.

Alcohol use among MSM tied with intimate partner violence

This newer study was first published online in May, and appeared in the July issue of the American Journal of Men’s Health.

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Health & Wellness

Mental health of young adults with lesbian parents the same as their peers, study finds

25-year-olds raised by lesbian parents do as well on multiple measures of psychological health as adults from a population-based sample.

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25-year-olds raised by lesbian parents do as well on multiple measures of psychological health as adults from a population-based sample. This is according to the longest-running prospective study on sexual minority parent families, with the researchers comparing relationships, educational/job performance, and behavioral, emotional and mental health problems in the two samples.

The report, “National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study—Mental Health of Adult Offspring”, appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine and is co-authored by Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Visiting Distinguished Scholar, along with Henny Bos, Ph.D., former Visiting International Scholar at the Williams Institute, and Audrey Koh, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco.

The 25-year-olds are participants in the ongoing US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), which has followed this cohort of offspring from conception to adulthood. The NLLFS, now in its 32nd year, has a 92% retention rate. This is the first NLLFS report based on data collected when the offspring were legal adults.

“When I began this study in 1986, there was considerable speculation about the future mental health of children conceived through donor insemination and raised by sexual minority parents,” said lead author Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “We have followed these families since the mothers were inseminating or pregnant and now find that their 25-year-old daughters and sons score as well on mental health as other adults of the same age.”

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The study focused on mental health because the peak incidence of many psychiatric disorders occurs during young adulthood. The researchers matched the 77 adult offspring in the NLLFS with a population-based sample of 77 adults of comparable age, sex, race/ethnicity and education to examine any disparities in their mental health.

The researchers specifically assessed adaptive functioning, the presence of behavioral or emotional problems, scores on the mental health diagnostic scales, and percentages of scores in the borderline or clinical range. Results showed no significant difference between the two groups for any of the measures.

“These findings demonstrate that claims that it is harmful for children to be raised by same-sex couples are completely unfounded,” said co-author Henny Bos, Ph.D., Professor of Child Development and Education, and Endowed Chair in Sexual and Gender Diversity in Families and Youth at the University of Amsterdam. “There is no justification to restrict child custody or placement, or access to reproductive technologies, based on the parents’ sexual orientation.”

There are an estimated 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the US, including 86,000 female couples. Ten states, including Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

This is the 23rd publication from data collected in the NLLFS. Previous research found that the development of psychological well-being in these offspring over a seven-year period from childhood through adolescence was the same for those conceived through known or unknown sperm donors. In addition, the absence of male role models did not adversely affect the psychological adjustment of 17-year-olds raised in lesbian households. None of these 17-year-olds had been abused by a parent or caregiver. In contrast, 26 percent of 17-year-olds nationally report physical abuse and 8% report sexual abuse by a parent or caregiver.

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Health & Wellness

LGBT teens use e-cigarettes more than straight peers, survey says

Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender teens have substantially higher rates of e-cigarette use than straight youth, with these teens far more likely to say they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days than their straight or questioning counterparts.

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender teens have substantially higher rates of e-cigarette use than straight youth – at least in Ohio, with the Ohio Department of Health reporting that teens who described themselves as LGB were far more likely to say they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days than their straight or questioning counterparts in a Ohio Healthy Youth Environments Survey taken during the 2016-2017 school year.

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Meanwhile, those who described themselves as transgender or gender nonconforming were far more likely to vape or smoke than their male and female peers. Transgender teens used e-cigarettes at twice the rate of males or females.

Among the reasons cited for the use of e-cigarettes and even traditional cigarettes is to cope with the stress and anxiety; in the case of LGBTQIA people, when faced with social stigma. Also, similar risky behaviors may be picked as youths try to find a community where they feel accepted.

Better information about the health effects of e-cigarettes are said to be therefore needed, with emphasis on the difficulty of giving up nicotine the moment its consumption is started, similar to traditional cigarette use.

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Health & Wellness

Over half of Filipinas feel having children affected their career opportunities

Women and young mothers in the Philippines find themselves leaving their jobs thanks to a lack of adequate parent-friendly working arrangements, subpar employee benefits, and poor work-life balance.

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Women and young mothers in the Philippines find themselves leaving their jobs thanks to a lack of adequate parent-friendly working arrangements, subpar employee benefits, and poor work-life balance, according to Monster.com’s annual #SheMakesItWork survey.

Additionally, more than 50% of mothers surveyed said they believe their career has been hindered or “somewhat” affected by their decision to have children. Perhaps contributing to this are levels of discrimination in the workplace, where 21% of women said they have been labelled as “too emotional”, and 19% don’t feel like they are taken seriously in the workplace. Beyond this, 18% of women said they had been questioned about their desire or plans to have children during job interviews.

The study, which surveyed over 2,600 respondents across the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia aimed to identify challenges women and mothers face in the workplace, in line with Mother’s Day. It also aimed to raise attention to these issues for employers, who might want to consider more family-friendly arrangements to aid in increasing retention and lowering overall attrition of the female workforce.

A lack of flexible working arrangements (32%) and struggling to balance demands from clients and colleagues as well as family life (58%) were some of the answers provided by working women and new mothers when asked about challenges faced at work.

New mothers felt anxious about leaving their infants at home, with only a minority of respondents reporting that their companies offered benefits such as medical benefits and compensation (28%), adjusted work schedules (28%), lactation rooms at the workplace (9%) and child day care centers at work (5%).

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To combat this, respondents suggested solutions such as flexible work arrangements tailored to the mothers’ needs (37%), efficient communication with mothers about leave policies (17%), and a transition period consisting of reduced workload (16%).

However, the majority of respondents were happily able to utilize flexible working hours with their current employers (61%), although this did not include working from home options, with 44% unable to do so.

“Although respondents in the Philippines had the highest number of respondents able to utilise flexible working options in Southeast Asia, there is still room for improvement to better support and manage the workloads for working mothers. This is reflected by the fact that over 50% of working Filipina women surveyed feel that they miss out on crucial career milestones after having children,” said Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO, Monster.com – APAC & Gulf. “Women are an integral component of the Philippines’ working population and many either choose or need to work to support their families. If companies make an effort to build an inclusive culture which supports women and working mothers, they will see a marked improvement in their retention rates.”

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Health & Wellness

Despite best intentions, nurses still have gaps in healthcare provision for trans people

Even when nurse practitioners (NPs) have good intentions, the services they deliver to trans people may still be tinged with discrimination and bias.

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Even when nurse practitioners (NPs) have good intentions, the services they deliver to trans people may still be tinged with discrimination and bias.

This is according to “Nurse Practitioner Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs When Caring for Transgender People”, a study by Catherine Paradiso and Robin M. Lally, and published in Transgender Health.

Paradiso and Lally noted that discrimination toward trans people continues to be widespread. In the healthcare industry, discrimination and bias may not be intentional, and yet still “contributes to and supports the disparity in care.”

The study eyed to explore NP knowledge, attitudes and beliefs when working with trans people and to inform about practitioner education needs. To do this, the researchers used a qualitative descriptive design to explore NP experiences. Focused semistructured interviews were conducted in 2016 with 11 (N=11) NPs in the northeastern US who represent various years of experience and encounters with trans patients. These interviews explored NP knowledge attitudes and beliefs when caring for trans patients and described their overall experiences in rendering care in the clinical setting. These interviews were professionally transcribed and analyzed independently and jointly by two investigators using conventional content analysis.

For this study, four main themes and six subthemes were identified: personal and professional knowledge gaps, fear and uncertainty, caring with intention and pride, and creating an accepting environment.

The NPs in this study perceived gaps in their knowledge that threaten their ability to deliver quality, patient-centered care to trans patients, despite their best intentions.

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According to the researchers, the findings show that “despite a desire to provide care, lack of experience with and education about trans healthcare limit NPs in their role, potentially causing them to be among the group of providers who unintentionally support existing disparities.”

Barriers to quality care include the following: (1) reluctance of trans patients to disclose gender identity when receiving medical care, (2) insufficient numbers of competent providers to care for LGBTQ issues, (3) insurance and policy barriers, (4) lack of culturally appropriate prevention services, and (5) discrimination.

Obviously, these findings have implications for changes in nursing practice, education, and research; in turn, the researchers stressed that these vital gaps need to be addressed in the healthcare provision for trans people.

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Health & Wellness

Argentina approves bill to move closer to increase access to safe and legal abortion

Most of the women who are hospitalized and die from complications from unsafe abortion are poor, Roman Catholics, married, with at least three children, and have at least a high school education. 

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The bill allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to 14 weeks has been approved by Argentina’s lower house of Congress.  Currently, abortion is allowed on grounds of rape, risk to life of the woman and severe malformation of the fetus.

“This is great news. Argentina has approved the bill paving legal reforms to increase access to safe and legal abortion and members of the upper house have also announced their support for the measure. Thanks to the women’s rights groups who have staged large rallies various parts of the country,” said Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights and spokesperson of the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN).

“This step is significant in helping save lives of women in Argentina.  In the past, there was a young Argentinian girl who was refused an abortion whose baby died soon after birth and who eventually died too.  Just in May, Ireland paved the way to increase access to abortion in its historic referendum.  The Irish citizens overwhelmingly voted 66.4% to repeal the 8th amendment to its constitution clearly manifesting respect for women’s right to decide and a significant step to save women’s lives and freedom from disability resulting from denial of access to safe and legal abortion,” Atty. Padilla emphasized.

In the Philippines, in August 2016, a 21-year old Filipino woman with dwarfism condition who became pregnant as a result of the rape died a day after her risky childbirth due to complications resulting from her dwarfism condition.  Her mother lamented that her daughter might still be alive had her daughter been able to access safe and legal abortion.

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“Because of lack of access to safe and legal abortion in the Philippines, in 2012, there were about three Filipino women who died every day from complications from unsafe abortion.  Many women report being treated inhumanely when they are rushed to the hospitals to get treatment for complications for their self-induced abortions.  And because of the restrictive abortion law and judgment passed on women, it is not only the women who induce abortions who are treated harshly but also women who suffer complications from spontaneous abortions, miscarriages after being beaten by their abusive husbands, and fetal death.  I hope our representatives in Congress and the executive and judicial branches of the Philippine government will realize how these human rights violations are so pervasive in our society and they just simply can’t turn a blind eye on this important issue.  I hope the Philippines will follow this global liberalization on abortion laws and soon decriminalize abortion since presently abortion is only recognized in our country to save the woman’s life and for medical necessity based on a 1961 supreme Court decision,” added Atty. Padilla.

Abortion is common in the Philippines with about 70 women inducing abortion every hour and about 11 women hospitalized every hour from unsafe abortion complications in 2012.  The number of women who have induced abortion in 2018 would be significantly higher since the number of women inducing abortion increases proportionally with the growing Philippine population.

Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal death and is a leading cause of hospitalizations.

There are various reasons why Filipino women undergo abortion. Filipino women induce abortion due to various reasons such as:

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 Economic

  • inability to afford the cost of raising a child or an additional child –75% of the women
  • too soon (having enough children or their pregnancy came too soon after their last birth) – more than half of the women

Age/Too young – 46% were women younger than 25

Health risks –  nearly one-third of the women

Rape – 13% of the women

Pregnancy not supported by Partner/Family – one-third of the women

Most of the women who are hospitalized and die from complications from unsafe abortion are poor, Roman Catholics, married, with at least three children, and have at least a high school education.  Poor women comprise two-thirds of those who induce abortion, using riskier abortion methods, thus disproportionately experiencing severe complications — clearly showing that lack of access to safe abortion is a social justice issue.

The archaic Spanish colonial law on abortion in our 1930 Revised Penal Code has not decreased the number of women who induce abortion rather it has made it dangerous for women who resort to clandestine and unsafe abortion.

“This 2018, the Philippines is supposed to report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), the United Nations treaty monitoring body tasked to monitor Philippine compliance with the CEDAW Convention, what steps it has done to legalize abortion since this was one of two priority issues identified by the CEDAW Committee in its 2016 CEDAW Committee Concluding Observations. This is why I’m traveling to Geneva in July to discuss our concerns with the CEDAW Committee,” said Atty. Padilla.

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Predominantly Catholic countries have liberalized their laws on abortion including Spain in 2010 with Prime Minister Zapatero at the helm of legalizing abortion on request during the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy and thereafter on specific grounds and countries such as Belgium, France, and Italy allow abortion upon a woman’s request; Poland allows abortion to protect a woman’s life and physical health and in cases of rape, incest, and fetal impairment; Hungary allows abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation;  Portugal allows abortion up to 10 weeks of gestation; Brazil on certain grounds.

Almost all former Spanish colonies, mostly with predominant Catholic populations, have liberalized their laws on abortion such as Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela, allowing abortion on certain grounds leaving the Philippines to contend with its antiquated colonial Spanish law.  Mexico City, a predominantly Catholic city, even provides safe and legal abortion for free.  In 2017, then former head of state of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, strongly campaigned to relax their abortion law. Only six countries are left with a total ban on abortion particularly, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Malta and Dominican Republic.

Other countries with constitutional protection of the life the unborn from conception allow abortion under certain exceptions such as Hungary (up to 12 weeks of gestation), Costa Rica, South Africa, Slovak Republic, Poland (risk to woman’s life and health, rape, fetal impairment), and Kenya.

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