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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

A glimpse into Singapore’s rainbow community

Singapore may be a cultural melting pot, but – as Tamsin Wu notes after meeting key LGBTQ community leaders – “one thing that the country lags behind is its social attitude towards LGBTQ issues and rights.” Here’s Outrage Magazine’s glimpse of Singapore’s rainbow community.

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Singapore is a cultural melting pot as seen from its people, experienced from visiting its different districts and tasted from its myriad of food choices. It exudes a cosmopolitan city bursting with personality.

The first thing I noticed was how strikingly awesome the urban planning and public transportation system were in Singapore. It was definitely light years ahead from the rowdy metropolis environment, massive vehicular traffic and unkempt public transportation dealt with back home. Cleanliness and efficiency were definitely things that Singapore upheld.

One thing that the country lags behind though is its social attitude towards LGBTQ issues and rights. Although Section 377 in the Singapore Penal Code – which criminalizes sex between men – is not really enforced against the gay community, its impact trickles down to, among others, how Singapore’s media industry blatantly prohibits positive depictions of LGBTQ stories and characters, the damaging practice of conversion therapy pushed by some of the religious and conservatives, as well as discrimination in schools and workplaces.

LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF LGBTQ

Censorhsip is an issue faced by the Singaporean LGBTQ community. For example, the InfoComm Media Development Authority (IMDA) sets forth media guidelines or policies that make it mandatory for Singapore’s mainstream media to edit out parts of a show – fiction or otherwise – that show LGBTQ personalities in a positive light. At times, it even spreads beyond the periphery of mainstream media, as long as a complaint has been filed regarding homosexual depiction.

A few LGBTQ-related Singapore literature

Registered Singaporean social worker Yangfa Leow shared to me some instances wherein such censorship was enforced – On TV, there was a time when a portion of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show was cut out simply because her guest, former US President Obama, complimented her. On live theater, a kissing scene played out by two actors was demanded to be omitted from subsequent running of the shows after an audience member complained that he was caught off-guard by the inclusion of homosexuality in the story. On print, “And Tango Makes Three”, a children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins that adopted and raised a baby penguin, was banned from the National Library Board simply because a parent filed a complaint about it.

The book cover on this anthology of Singaporean LGBTQ stories was inspired by the censorship incident on the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three”

Nonetheless, suppression of LGBTQ-related information and stories does not extend its fangs and claws to the Internet and publishing industry. I’ve been able to find out about Singapore’s LGBTQ-related books and organizations through social media and online research. Consequently, aside from reaching out to certain groups advocating for equality, I have scoured out the existence of quality Singaporean queer literature.

I wouldn’t fly out from the country without getting my hands on Cyril Wong’s book, “Let Me Tell You Something About That Night”. It magnificently interweaves fantasy into contemporary Singapore. Without loudly parading itself as an LGBTQ book, since the short stories therein are mainly about human experiences told through alternate worlds or realities, its collection of “strange tales” casually yet beautifully infuses LGBTQ characters here and there. Although simple in its storylines, it makes the reader feel and contemplate about the place of LGBTQ individuals and relationships in society, given the current socio-political landscape for and against the community.

While queer literature doesn’t necessarily fall under the category of activism, having LGBTQ representations in books is still a very useful tool in educating and spreading awareness, as well as empowering the community through words and stories.

COUNSELING AND SUPPORT

At Chinatown, leading to the Oogachaga center

One of the groups in Singapore that advocates for LGBTQ rights and helps the LGBTQ community rise up is Oogachaga (OC), a community-based organization that offers professional counseling and support services to LGBTQ individuals, couples and families via hotline, email and WhatsApp, or face-to-face counseling by appointment.

Stairway to a “safe space”

According to Yangfa Leow, executive director of OC, they have established a protocol in screening and training volunteers who would like to contribute their time in providing support services to the LGBTQ community. Applicants are required to go through an interview and a period of classroom and hands-on trainings.

“Some people have observed that this process is quite rigorous, and we see that as a positive thing. There will be applicants who are not selected, or voluntarily withdraw or do not return at various stages of this process. It is only expected that not everyone who wishes to be a volunteer would be a good fit. We want to protect the integrity of the counseling services. One of the key requirements for our hotline, email and WhatsApp counseling volunteers is the need to maintain confidentiality of information and identity. It is also to protect the clients themselves, many of whom may be in vulnerable situations and turn to OC for safety and emotional support. It is also to protect the safety and identities of our volunteers, who give their spare time to support others,” Yangfa said.

Yangfa Leow courteously showed me around the center and shared about the current struggles faced by LGBTQ’s in Singapore

On the other hand, volunteers with professional qualifications in social work, counseling or psychology are selected to provide face-to-face support, intervention and follow-up on issues.

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A hotline call, WhatsApp chat, an email or a counseling session is each counted as a service unit. According to Yangfa, back in 2013, OC served 974 service units. In 2016, the volume of service units reached 1,663 – a 71% increase in 4 years.

“Also, in terms of gender profile, we’re seeing an increase in proportion of service-users who identify as women, transgender or gender diverse – from 31.8% back in 2013 to 40.4% in 2016,” Yangfa added.

Other LGBTQ-friendly groups

When asked about the usual issues tackled, Yangfa said, “In no particular order, the top three presenting issues are sexuality or identity, relationships with partner, family, friends and psychological or mental health – diagnosed or undiagnosed.”

Aside from counseling services, OC also schedules support group sessions and offers training sessions to social service organizations, schools, healthcare institutions and private companies or corporations to talk about LGBTQ issues and how to handle conversations surrounding such matters.

OC’s top floor for group sessions, meetings or counseling

The main struggle that OC encounters is funding. “In August 2016, we were informed by our main, long-term funder that they would cease their support for us. They had been responsible for 80% of our funds for the past 8 years, and it came to a stop. So since then, we have embarked on an ongoing fund-raising drive,” Yangfa said.

Yangfa added that other challenges faced by OC include continuing to stay relevant and reaching out to those segments of the LGBTQ community that may need support, but are not yet being reached.

“For example, those who may not speak English, who may not be able to access our online publicity information, and those who may not be able to access our counseling services for whatever reasons – disability, language ability, stigma, social isolation.”

Brochures and booklets at OC

Yangfa also shared that, despite Christians being a non-dominant religious group in Singapore, they remain to be very vocal and influential in going against equality. There was even an event held called “White Dot” – an anti-LGBTQ offshoot of Singapore’s annual Pride event “Pink Dot” – that was originally headed by an Islamic religious teacher and eventually replicated by a Christian pastor.

Basically, the false notion that “if someone is pro-equality, then s/he cannot be pro-family or pro-society” is at times ridiculously drilled into the conscience of society.

EMBRACING LGBTQ CHRISTIANS

With that being said, however, all is not lost for LGBTQ’s who seek to attend a nonjudgmental, inclusive church environment.

Welcoming entrance to Free Community Church

In a country that still breeds animosity towards the LGBTQ’s, the Free Community Church (FCC) in Singapore is a breath of fresh air, especially for those who don’t want to let go of their Christian faith, albeit the off-putting religious bigotry preached by some.

Pastor Pauline Ong and Rev. Miak Siew speaking to the FCC congregation

FCC has a weekly cozy Sunday service that is open to everyone who want to join in a religious community feel, sans the abhorrence typically put by fundamentalists against LGBTQ’s and those of other faiths or beliefs. The atmosphere in FCC was light and accommodating. There were the usual leading of worship songs, sharing about the scripture and personal testimonies, as well as the ceremony of bread and wine. Afterwards, everyone was encouraged to spend more time together through lunch already prepared by FCC members.

EMPOWERING THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY

But even with the existence of organizations that offer a “safe space” to LGBTQ people, some of them still find themselves alone in battling the painful pangs of discrimination. One example is the dilemma of transgender folks who work in the sex industry to make money. In this case, they face both the stigma society imposes on transgender people and on sex workers. On top of having to deal with discrimination in school and even before entering the workforce, some get disowned by their families. With no one to turn to and no degree or work experience under their belt, they turn to the sex industry just to survive. Even though sex work is legal and regulated in Singapore, transgender sex workers still face the possibility of violence done to them either by a police personnel or the clients.

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Nonetheless, June Chua, co-founder of The T Project, has seen positive developments in the attitude of Singapore towards the transgender community. “Society have evolved and being transgender is no longer seen as taboo or a big deal. I do admit educating and raising awareness of the transgender community must still be ongoing but I do see more options and opportunities opening up for the transgender person in terms of employment and acceptance in Singapore.”

June Chua winning the AWARE Champion award for Gender Equality & Justice Award

The T Project offers shelter to homeless transgender people and enables them to create a better life for themselves. Apart from that, it also coordinates with other social service organizations and does workshops for government institutions, companies and schools to educate them about the transgender community.

“The first thing of how residents come in is by themselves or, alternatively, by referral from other social workers. So the moment they come in we will have to do an admissions interview, tell the residents the do’s and don’ts of living in the shelter, the requirements we expect from them, and to actually manage the expectations of what the shelter can provide. Basically, we don’t provide financial aid, we can connect you to some government agencies who can provide you with that,” explains Eztelle Kaye, shelter manager at The T Project.

“The T Project is not just about giving our residents a roof over their heads – it’s about empowering them to be independent and finding a way to have a sustainable life. We wish to educate them and give them the power once they leave the shelter.”

Chanced upon university students interviewing Eztelle

Eztelle met June in the course of volunteering at the Women Care Center, “I was closer to her late sister then, the co-founder of T Project. I met June about 3 years ago when I was working as a volunteer at Women Care Center advocating about more on HIV prevention, STI prevention, how you can actually help and do regular testing. So that’s where I met June. She was the Volunteer Supervisor. From there I’ve connected with June… I believe she saw something in me that’s why she draaaagged~ me here… as the shelter manager,” Eztelle said jokingly.

After deciding to leave her corporate life, she took on the role as shelter manager of The T Project in order to give back to society. “Of course I do miss my days whereby every payday is actually a ‘boutique day’ when I just shop at LV, Prada and such,” Eztelle said with a laugh. “But yeah, I feel I have much more of a sense of job satisfaction and fulfilment because I get the chance to empower the residents here, that they can be more than what they can be if they set their minds to it.”

Bulletin at the T Project shelter

Asked about the issues faced and rights held by transgender people vis-à-vis sex reassignment surgery (SRS), June said, “To me, the issues and challenges that will arise are not from whether you have underwent SRS or not but how you represent yourself to the public. However, in Singapore after we underwent SRS, we are allowed to legally change our gender marker and are accorded legal rights as a woman under the Woman Chapter Act.”

She shared that they are currently developing a work plan with various programs that would roll out in the later part of the year. “As part of our work plan 2017, we are doing a volunteer recruitment drive on Pink Dot event day itself. Yes, we will start to welcome non-transgender or cis-gender volunteers,” June said smilingly.

June Chua at Pink Dot 2016

“The T project will try to link up the transgender community with employment opportunities. We are also doing a series of TTP (Transgender Talking Point) workshop to empower the transgender and to see what are their needs and wants so that we can support them, hopefully. We are also recruiting 4 The T Project ambassadors to help us in our outreach effort.”

NAVIGATING LGBTQ ACTIVISM IN UNIVERSITIES

“My bubble seems to be one that is generally privileged to some extent, with respect to some other trans people. The trans people I am in contact with have not dropped out of school,” shared Cassandra Thng from the Communications and Media Relations team of the Inter-University LGBT Network – an amazing pool of student bodies that fight together in upholding the well-being of the LGBTQ community in Singapore’s educational institutions, their efforts of which would hopefully reverberate throughout the country.

“Generally, the trans people around me have all been closeted throughout earlier school lives such as primary and secondary school. The earliest I’ve heard of people transitioning within my friends is during Junior College or Poly. Naturally, the gender non-conforming nature of a trans person – such as the increased femininity in a trans girl, or the increased masculinity in a trans guy, or the general lack of non-conformity in a non-binary person – has been something of a sticking point for certain people. For those of us who did not blend as well with our assigned gender roles as others, bullying and mockery definitely were issues that were faced.”

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With the intention of fighting LGBTQ discrimination, at least at the level of colleges or universities, 5 student organizations – namely Gender Collective, Kaleidoscope, Out To Care, tFreedom and The G Spot – from different educational institutions came together and founded the Inter-University LGBT Network.

“The Network was born after the leaders from the five founding groups met at a social event organized by Out To Care from Singapore Management University. We found that each group faced similar challenges as the others, and decided to set up the Network so that we can share resources and facilitate collaboration,” shared Daryl Yang, executive director and co-founder of the Network.

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

 

 

Cassandra has observed that the younger generation nowadays cares less about gender identities and sexual orientations that fall outside the “cis-heteronormative patriarchal standards”, and that at times, “it is teachers… who are perpetrators of harsh words and disqualifying beliefs themselves that create less protected and safe-feeling environments for at-risk students”.

She added that, “School environments are also very much shaped by education policy, and one of these policies would include sexuality education. To this day, Focus On The Family (FOTF), a Singaporean splinter from the American-based FOTF anti-LGBT Christian lobby, conducts sexuality education in certain schools. Sexuality education in Singapore in general, and with FOTF in particular, tends to gloss over different sexualities and gender identities in favor of teaching about safe sex, and in FOTF’s case, gender roles and abstinence. While safe sex is an important topic, gender identity and sexualities are also important topics that should be addressed. Many students who are part of those minorities have felt that they were excluded from the conversation and that it would be better to not speak about what they experience to anyone else.”

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

Aside from student social events, the Network provides support by initiating studies and projects that aim to study LGBTQ-related issues faced by the student community, in order to raise awareness and recommend necessary revisions to existing university policies and frameworks, as well as to create an environment wherein LGBTQ students feel safe and empowered.

According to Xin Yee Teo, the Network’s Social Media Manager, Singapore universities have anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that cover gender and sexual orientation. “However, procedure for seeking recourse via these policies remains unclear, and we are currently conducting a research project on this.”

Xin Yee further shared about the current projects of the Network, “For instance, the Harassment & Non-Discrimination Policy Research Project aims to find out how harassment is experienced by LGBTQ+ undergraduates in Singapore’s universities. It also seeks to find out if universities are equipped with the necessary resources like counsellors and student support groups to serve individuals who have been targeted for their gender or sexual orientation. Another ongoing project is the S377A Commemorative Project, which aims to analyze how the rhetoric surrounding S377A has evolved over the past 10 years since the repeal campaign in 2007, as well as its impact on LGBT discourse in Singapore. The end result of this project would be a moving exhibition across universities in the month of October, so as to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the parliamentary debate. We also have various support projects – such as Youth Resource Development Project and Campus Support Project – which aims to provide help and support to LGBTQ+ youth in Singapore, as well as outreach projects which aims to provide inclusive platforms for networking and community-building.”

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

One challenge faced by some LGBTQ student orgs is being officially recognized by the university, including the difficulty in setting up a group and organizing events, due to the stigma that may still be lingering “usually from more religiously conservative corners of the university”, as Daryl puts it.

“Nonetheless, people are generally respectful and it is rare to find cases of serious verbal, physical or emotional bullying based on someone’s sexual or gender identity. We have noticed encouraging shifts in attitudes towards LGBT issues in our universities since our Network was established. For instance, there are now talks at other universities or colleges to set up similar support groups, initiated by both students and faculty. There is also greater visibility of LGBT identities in the arts scene at our universities as well, most recently with groups from both NUS and Yale-NUS staging theatre performances featuring gay and transgender narratives.”

CARRYING ON THE FIGHT

Despite all the bad news concerning discrimination, it is good to know that the LGBTQ movement is still roaring proudly in Asia’s Lion City.

Heartening indeed to see that the progressive Singaporean youth is currently being active in the advocacy alongside LGBTQ-related organizations in order to raise and strengthen equality. It is hoped that the fight would continue on and fortify until Singapore reaches a place in time wherein its strength of diversity and multiculturalism includes that of human sexuality and gender expression.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

College-age males at bars, parties more likely to be sexually aggressive

A study found that it wasn’t alcohol use, per se, that leads to sexual aggression, but the combination of alcohol and the setting that the drinking takes place in had a major impact on the number of reported aggressive tactics used.

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College men who frequently attend parties or go to bars are more likely to be sexually aggressive compared to those who don’t, Washington State University researchers have found.

“We found that it wasn’t alcohol use, per se, that leads to sexual aggression,” said Michael Cleveland, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development. “But the combination of alcohol and the setting that the drinking takes place in had a major impact on the number of reported aggressive tactics used.”

The study, which surveyed a group of over 1,000 college males repeatedly for five semesters at a large Northeastern university, asked participants if they had used sexually aggressive tactics, Cleveland said.

“We asked them how often they drank and if and how often they went to bars or parties,” Cleveland said. “Then we asked if they used any specific tactics to convince, or even pressure, women to have them sex with them.”

Those tactics ranged from threatening to break up with her to getting her drunk and harming her physically.

The results were published April 25 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Personality traits

The study questions looked at the personality traits of each participant. The researchers found that the men who went to bars and parties more often tended to have higher levels of Impersonal Sexual Orientation, characterized by a preference for sex without commitment and a greater number of sexual partners.

“Men with that orientation have a proclivity towards more casual sex,” Cleveland said. “And it’s been associated with a higher level of sexual aggression. So this study shows that men with those personality traits are going to parties – perhaps in order to find sex partners –and acting more sexually aggressive.”

There are hot spots, like bars and parties, where aggressive behavior happens more often. Having bystander intervention, where someone intervenes on behalf of the victim, is really important in these situations.

Study timeline

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The researchers started the survey by contacting every male in the freshman class at a large university in the northeastern U.S. in 2012. Over 1,000 took part through their first five semesters.

The survey was conducted by email or online, with participants compensated with money deposited in their student accounts. Participants were guaranteed confidentiality in the hopes of getting more truthful results.

The study states that the more the students reported drinking as freshmen, the more likely they were to commit a sexually aggressive act by the end of the survey period, Cleveland said.

“The results are very cumulative,” Cleveland said. “If a student reported drinking as a freshman, then he would be more likely to report going to parties or bars the next year as a sophomore. And then the men who were most likely to drink at these types of settings were the ones that most likely were sexually aggressive during their junior year.”

Preventing aggression

The study showed how much room there is to educate men on their role in reducing and eventually eliminating aggressive sexual behaviors.

“Prevention of sexual assault should target men’s behaviors and attitudes,” Cleveland said. “There are hot spots, like bars and parties, where aggressive behavior happens more often. Having bystander intervention, where someone intervenes on behalf of the victim, is really important in these situations.”

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Health & Wellness

LGBT-identifying females are at increased risk of substance use in early adolescence

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

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Females who identify as sexual minorities face an increased risk of substance use that shows up as early as age 13, suggesting early adolescence is a critical period for prevention and intervention efforts, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

“We saw this striking difference in substance use at age 13 and there was rapid increase in the rate of cigarette and alcohol use from there,” said Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts and the study’s lead author. “That tells us we need to find ways to intervene as early as possible to help prevent substance use in this population.”

The findings were published recently in the Journal of LGBT Youth. Co-authors are James McGinley of McGinley Statistical Consulting and director of behavioral analytics at the Vector Psychometric Group; Kristen Eckstrand, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and Michael P. Marshal of the University of Pittsburgh.

Among youth, alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are the three most commonly used drugs. That is a concern because youth who use those substances are at risk of negative health and social outcomes, including addiction and poor cognitive, social and academic function.

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Past research has shown that sexual minority youth reported nearly three times more substance use than heterosexual youth. The disparity may be due in part to stress from discrimination, violence and victimization rooted in their sexual minority status, Dermody said.

The pattern of increased substance use for youth who identify as sexual minorities is magnified significantly for females. In the new study, researchers hoped to gain better understanding of how substance use rates develop over time for this group in particular, Dermody said.

Using data from about 2,200 participants in the Pittsburgh Girls Study, a large, longitudinal study of the lives of urban girls, researchers examined substance use among females over time from age 13 to 20, comparing those who identified as heterosexual to those identifying as lesbian/gay or bisexual.

They looked at when disparities in use between heterosexual and sexual minority identifying females began to emerge; rates of change over time for both groups; and how rates change as the girls approach young adulthood.

The researchers found that disparities in substance use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls were already present at age 13. The difference in use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls persisted and increased as they entered their 20s.

The findings suggest that early prevention and intervention efforts may be needed to reduce initial use and slow the escalation of substance use among the population. Such efforts could also help decrease substance use disparities over time, Dermody said.

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“It’s already a risky and vulnerable period for youths’ social development, and it’s also a vulnerable time for brain development,” Dermody said.

It’s also important to remember that within the population of youths who identify as sexual minorities, there are many youths who are not using any substances at all, or who are not using them as heavily, Dermody said.

“This is a subgroup that we are concerned about,” she said. “In future research, it would useful to explore how individual youths’ experiences influence where they fall on the spectrum of substance use.”

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Travel

Bhutan moves to decriminalize homosexuality

The tiny Himalayan kingdom’s parliament became the world’s latest to decriminalize homosexuality.

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Photo by Moom22 from Pixabay.com

Rainbow rising in Bhutan, with the tiny Himalayan kingdom’s lower house of parliament, overwhelmingly voting to repeal two sections of the 2004 criminal code which made “unnatural sex” illegal.

While the law was never been used, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering, who submitted the recommendation to repeal sections 213 and 214 of the penal code, said they had become “a stain” on the country’s reputation.

Tshering said he is optimistic that the upper house in the nation of 750,000 people would back the lower house decision.

Speaking to Reuters, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying: “Taking steps to end the criminalization of same-sex relationships is a welcome and progressive step by Bhutan.”

The bill now needs to be passed by Bhutan parliament’s upper chamber before being sent for royal assent.

If this amendment passes, 69 countries remain worldwide where same-sex relations are illegal.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Is risk-taking compatible with forex trading?

There are many types of risks which are an inherent part of forex trading, from exchange rate and interest rate changes to marginal and transactional risks. However, this doesn’t mean that reckless risk-taking is a necessary or even advisable part of forex trading. Having a detailed plan and a strategic approach means you will be prepared to deal with risks and there consequences when and if things go awry.

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It would be impossible to trade in forex without assuming some type of risk, according to several experts. Does this mean that risk-taking is part-and-parcel of forex trading and that being prepared to take risks without fear of the consequences is an essential part of the game?

On the contrary, experts say that the question is how you identify and manage risk to fit your individual circumstances. Whether it is stocks or forex traders on a platform like FXPro, all investors should draw up unique and comprehensive risk management plans that would stop them from trading within acceptable risk parameters according to Stockmarket College.

“High risk is typically associated with high returns, although this isn’t always the case; high risks can also mean incredible losses,” Stockmarket College  warns, adding that you should get clarity on 

Trading Academy defines forex or foreign exchange as the trading currency pairs. “When you go long on EUR/USD, for example, you are hoping that the value of the Euro will increase relative to the U.S. Dollar,” they explain.

The article added that as with any investment you could “guess wrong” or add additional risk to your trading by targeting less popular currency pairs.

“It’s useful to keep in mind that the vast majority of forex transactions are made by banks, not individuals, and they are actually using forex to reduce the risk of currency fluctuation,” Trading Academy explains. “As an individual, you are less subject to many of these risks, and others can be minimized through sound trade management.”

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In an article on iForex, the authors write “risk is an important part of trading and – in the right hands – it’s a valuable tool that can help you make trading decisions.”

They describe risk management is a way to identify, measure and analyse risk before taking a decision. “Miscalculated risk management can have substantial impact on companies and individual traders alike,” the article continues.

iForex advises tailoring the size of investment to size of capital. “Why? Because no trader – not even the most professional, experienced, gifted trader in the world – achieves a 100% rate of trading success,” they added.They also advise the use of “Stop Loss” – a market order allowing traders to limit potential losses and calculating the risk/reward ratio for a specific investment by “dividing the amount the investor will lose if the price moves unexpectedly by the profit the investor expects to make when the position closes”.

“It’s useful to keep in mind that the vast majority of forex transactions are made by banks, not individuals, and they are actually using forex to reduce the risk of currency fluctuation.”

Trading Academy identified the following risk factors in Forex trading:

EXCHANGE RATE RISK

This is caused by changes in the value of currency – due to shifts in demand. It can be significant The fact that off-exchange trading in foreign currency is not really regulated adds to the size of this particular type of risk as it means that there are no daily price limits, according to Trading Academy.

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iForex explains that some types of currency are traditionally viewed as more risky than others but these have shown larger returns.

INTEREST RATE RISK

Interest rate risk refers to the profit and loss generated by fluctuations in price of currency including forward outright, futures, and options. Interest rate risk can be ameliorated by continuous analysis of the interest rate environment and timeous forecast of changes.

COUNTRY AND LIQUIDITY RISK

Periods of illiquidity have been observed in several countries and especially outside the United States and European markets.  Countries can also impose trading limits or restrictions on the amount of Forex to be traded, the volume and penalties. This can stop a trader from liquidating an unfavourable position. In some countries foreign exchange prices are also government regulated, Trading Academy states.

Investopedia explains further that interest rates have an effect on countries’ exchange rates meaning that an increase in interest rates would strengthen domestic currency in that country. They add that the converse is also true. This, the authors explain, can cause dramatic fluctuations in forex.

They add that it would be good to assess the structure and stability of a country before investing. “In many developing and third world countries, exchange rates are fixed to a world leader such as the US dollar. In this circumstance, central banks must sustain adequate reserves to maintain a fixed exchange rate,” the article added. “A currency crisis can occur due to frequent balance of payment deficits and result in devaluation of the currency.”

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MARGINAL OR LEVERAGE RISK

As low margin deposits or trade collateral are required in forex trading, it would allow for a high degree of leverage (using other people’s money to invest) – but this also means that small price fluctuations can lead to considerable losses.

Investopedia explains that leverage involves borrowing a certain amount of the money needed to invest in something – and adds that foreign exchange trades often offer high amounts of leverage.

TRANSACTIONAL RISK

This describes the risks of procedural mistakes and mishaps like errors in communications and problems with the handling of an order according to Trading Academy.

Investopedia adds that this type of risk is amplified by time differences between the beginning of a contract and when it settles. The greater the time that passes, the greater the risk, they explain, adding that the reason for this is that it allows for the exchange rate to fluctuate.

The greater the time differential between entering and settling a contract increases the transaction risk.

iForex advises tailoring the size of investment to size of capital. “Why? Because no trader – not even the most professional, experienced, gifted trader in the world – achieves a 100% rate of trading success,” they added.

They also advise the use of “Stop Loss” – a market order allowing traders to limit potential losses and calculating the risk/reward ratio for a specific investment by “dividing the amount the investor will lose if the price moves unexpectedly by the profit the investor expects to make when the position closes”.

There are many types of risks which are an inherent part of forex trading, from exchange rate and interest rate changes to marginal and transactional risks. However, this doesn’t mean that reckless risk-taking is a necessary or even advisable part of forex trading. Having a detailed plan and a strategic approach means you will be prepared to deal with risks and there consequences when and if things go awry.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

What’s your attitude about body hair removal?

New study lays bare cultural reasons around the globe for bikini waxing and man-scaping.

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As beachgoers scramble to trim their nether regions ahead of swim season, new UNLV research shows they aren’t alone in their ambitions for a bare bikini line.

A study led by UNLV anthropology graduate student Lyndsey Craig and co-authored by professor Peter Gray combed through written records from the 1890s to early 2000s from nearly 200 societies around the world to figure out how pubic hair removal practices differ from Western societies and the motives behind it.

The study, Pubic Hair Removal Practices in Cross-Cultural Perspective, was published in the April 2019 issue of SAGE Publications’ Cross-Cultural Research, a journal of comparative social science.

Existing research had already found that in the cultural West, it’s typically women who sport shorn slopes – about 84% in the US alone compared to 66% of men. In those studies, both genders cited the influence of pornography and of product marketing for waxing salons and depilatory creams as the main motivating factors in choosing to remove their pubic hair. Other factors include partner expectations, oral sex practices, peer pressure to conform to cultural norms, the desire to feel sexy and self-confident, perceived hygiene concerns, and the association of pubic hair with feelings of disgust and uncleanliness.

Meanwhile, research on non-Western cultures has been scarce. For a majority of the 72 societies that UNLV researchers found to specifically mention pubic hair removal or retention, it turned out that women were similarly more likely than men to lop off their lower locks. Their most common motive, however, was actual hygiene concerns (prevention of lice, ticks, and irritation) rather than perceived thoughts about cleanliness. Other reasons included cultural beliefs that pubic hair is ugly and social signaling to mark ocassions such as marriage or a couple’s return to a vibrant sex life following mourning over a deceased child. A few mythological texts referenced using the stray strands to craft archery strings, mix into medicines, or perform rituals or spells.

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While Westerners tend to shave or wax, the most common method used by non-Westerners of both sexes was plucking with the fingers or make-shift tweezers fashioned from bamboo or shells. Other methods included plucking by a spouse or a same-sex person of lower status.

None of the non-Western societies were influenced by porn or product marketing, though researchers point out that the majority of the literature examined was from the 1930s through the 1960s, so the societies likely didn’t have access to porn, pubic hair removal ads, or even modern razors.

But researchers say the study shows how globalization might influence attitudes about the hair… down under.

For example, the Amhara society’s religious doctrine initially required that men prune their pastures with razors and women by plucking; the reverse was unforgivable. But once the European razor blade was introduced to the Eastern African region, women started shaving and men stopped removing their pubic hair at all.

“Given inferences that ancestral sexual selection pressures shaped the development and display of human pubic hair for visual and olfactory ends, why have humans often sought to partially or completely remove it?” the researchers wrote. “We suggest that … pubic hair removal practices enable humans to communicate information of sociocultural salience, such as signifying whether one is sexually active. One might draw parallels with how human head hair, armpit hair, tattoos, or male beards enable similar biocultural expression.”

The UNLV researchers additionally hypothesize that women’s pubic hair removal practices serve as important signals of receptivity to a partner’s sexual advances.

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But if you’re quite fond of your forbidden forest, no problem.

Not all the societies surveyed endorsed pubic hair removal. The Igbo people of Western Africa considered pubic hair for both men and women a source of pride, the Shona in Southern Africa viewed hair growth as a symbol of fertility, and the Kwoma people of Oceania called pubic hair – especially the “thickest and most luxuriant” kind – a “traditional mark of female beauty.”

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Health & Wellness

Hazard of smoking at a younger age greater for transgender boys

Transgender boys may be at higher risk for early and current cigarette use regardless of their sexual identity, whereas smoking varied more widely for youth across different sexual identities.

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Smoke gets in your eyes…

A study found that – with approximately 7% of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youths reported currently smoking – cisgender and transgender boys had higher odds of current smoking compared with cisgender and transgender girls (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.56–2.21); while pansexual-identified youth had higher odds of smoking (AOR = 1.33; 95% CI: 1.05–1.70) compared with gay/lesbian youth independent of gender identity. Pansexual-identified cisgender boys had the highest smoking prevalence (21.6%).

This is according to “Cigarette Smoking Among Youth at the Intersection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” by Christopher W. Wheldon, Ryan J. Watson, Jessica N. Fish and Kristi Gamarel, published in LGBT Health.

The study eyed to identify subgroups of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth who are most vulnerable to tobacco use. The researchers analyzed data from a national nonprobability sample of 11,192 SGM youth (ages 13–17). Age of cigarette initiation and current use were modeled using Cox proportional hazard and binomial regression. Sexual and gender identities were explanatory variables and the models were adjusted for ethnoracial identity and age.

The study noted that – surprisingly – predicted probabilities were higher among transgender boys across all sexual identities, except asexual. The hazard of smoking at a younger age was greater for transgender boys compared with cisgender boys (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 1.67; 95% CI: 1.43–1.94) as well as for bisexual (AHR = 1.12; 95% CI: 1.01–1.24) and pansexual (AHR = 1.17; 95% CI: 1.03–1.33) youth compared with those who identified as gay or lesbian.

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These findings “suggest that transgender boys may be at higher risk for early and current cigarette use regardless of their sexual identity, whereas smoking varied more widely for youth across different sexual identities. The findings suggest that specific subgroups of SGM youth require focused attention in tobacco control research and practice.”

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