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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

A piece of Puerto Princesa

Eating a plateful of timolok worms may have been one of the highlights for John Ryan Mendoza when he visited Puerto Princesa, but as he discovered, there’s always more to discover in this part of Palawan.

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“Do they taste like what a worm would taste like in your head before you ate it?” said the Facebook message that my Canadian friend sent me after leaving an appalled comment on a photo of me biting a tamilok.

“They tasted familiar, like oysters, but still very different,” I replied, amused.

The tamilok, a wood worm that thrives in coconut tree trunks, is a local delicacy in the island province of Palawan. My transgender travel buddy and I just found them in a menu at Kinabuch’s Grill on the second night of our promo flight getaway. At 130 pesos, we had a full plate of skinned worms with a small saucer of vinegar. The tamiloks only got to the side of my friend’s face for the photo, so I had the whole squirmy plate to myself. They tasted like very, very long oysters. After dipping it in vinegar, I had to slurp a whole juicy one in order to chew it. I finished most of the plate. I just hesitated at the thought that my stomach wouldn’t be so happy about it and may just end up in toilet confinement rather than the Palawan outdoors the next day. I turned out fine and I definitely would have them again, cooked next time. Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital city, offered so much more aside from these quirky tamiloks.

Ka Lui’s cake
We started this Puerto Princesa trip with a dinner reservation at Ka Lui’s Seafood House. We had to go on barefoot to get inside so we had to leave our footwear in numbered drawers at the entrance. The place had a native Filipino ambience and was packed. We were ushered to a low candlelit table for two and were crouched comfortably. We ordered the Ka Lui’s special for the day. At 485 pesos, we had full course meal of veggies, prawns, fried fish in mango sauce, grilled fish, and a young coconut with tropical fruits. The whole night, my transgender friend couldn’t help but notice the good-looking waiters that served the customers. Then we had a surprise for the night- a not just phallic, but really penile cake was served for a birthday celebrant in the next table. My friend guessed right, Ka Lui is proudly a successful gay businessman according to locals. With this gay vibe, I would definitely come back here with friends and have that cake.

Ice cold island tour
On the second day, as Typhoon Gener was raging over most of Luzon, a morning text brought bad news. Our subterranean river trip was cancelled due to the reported dangerous river currents from the local coast guard. Unfazed, we proceeded with the Honda Bay island tour.

At 200 pesos, we rode a tricycle to the boat terminal where we started to pay the various fees and taxes for the tour. We were about to pay 1,300 pesos for just the two of us, when luckily a young (het) couple was also there looking to share a boat with others. There were four islands and one reef that were lined up for the tour. Entrance fees for Pandan and Cowrie islands, 100 and 75 pesos respectively, were paid there at the terminal. All other entrance fees that charged 50 pesos were to be paid once getting there.

We first stopped at Luli island. It was just a sand bar where a highly stilted house and some small cottages stood. The boat man told us that the whole sand bar submerges during high tide. That’s why it’s called “Luli” (lulubog-lilitaw). We just spent a brief time exploring the quite dense mangrove growth and proceeded to our next stop. We then arrived at Pambato reef, where we donned our rented snorkeling gear and footwear. We all rented the equipment at 150 pesos each at the shops near the main highway and then just realized that we can rent them even cheaper at 100 pesos at the boat terminal. Oh well, next time. There was so much colourful fish and corals too see but there was just one problem-the water was too murky. Being in a low pressure area was starting to take its toll on our tour. On a sunny day, I’m pretty sure how much more amazing this underwater world would be.

Next stop-Starfish island. It was starting to rain when we disembarked from the boat and four starfishes welcomed us at the shore. After going around for the camera poses and jump-shots, we realized that those were the only starfishes we ever saw. Maybe we weren’t looking well enough, but I was starting to suspect the starfish welcome was staged. It was starting to get really cold so we all took refuge in the warm seawater. We all wouldn’t recommend swimming here, snorkelling I guess, for the beach was too rocky, unless you are into pain.

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It was on our transit to Pandan island when the torrential rain poured. The island was so shrouded in thick white mists that our boatman got disoriented – just freaky. After around 30 minutes, we arrived at the more developed island all drenched and freezing. Cottages for rent at 300 pesos were at the beachfront and a food and drinks counter was at the interior. We took shelter at a tent beside the food place and had our lunch of grilled squid and pork at 180 pesos per plate. The island was just surrounded with snorkelling spots. After our cold meal, we finally dipped into the soothing warm waters. This time, we brought a feast for the fishes – breadcrumbs. One doesn’t need a life vest anymore since the spots you can feed the fish and find corals were very shallow. Just stay clear from the black gardens of sea urchins and occasional camouflaged stone fishes. They all sting pretty bad.

The weather was getting worse but we were all still resolute to get our money’s worth. After another chilly and wavy trip, Cowrie island proved to be worth it. It had the finest sand and the most pristine waters among all the other islands. This last stop’s warmer water was just perfect for languid swimming after enduring all that cold. We finally sailed back to the terminal and then all parted at our respective hotels after sharing again, a tricycle. Just one classic – share a boat/tricycle, win a friend – day.

Wet City Tour
On our third day, the morning text message made us abandon all hope we had for the underground river tour. The typhoon raged on and the underground river currents could kill, the travel agent told us. We were just left with the city tour option. Our friendly driver agreed to tour us for the whole day at 500 pesos. We first drove to Palawan governor-owned Rancho Sta. Monica, popularly known as Mitra’s Ranch. Located at a hilltop, it had a magnificent view of Puerto Princesa and offered various activities such as horseback riding, trampoline jumping, and ziplining. My friend opted to pay 500 pesos for ziplining. The ranch’s zipline had 3 lines where you can transfer from one line to another thru towers as high as the tree tops. The first zip line is 300 meters long while the 2nd and 3rd zip lines are 150 meters long each. The male zipline staffs were so accommodating to my friend that they agreed to take photos of all her zipline moments and even invited her to a drinking session sometime after work. Maybe it’s just my friend’s charm or just this place’s really friendly locals.

Then we proceeded to Baker’s Hill. It is a bakery/restaurant with a mini park with fun statues, exotic birds, and beautiful landscapes. No wonder, it is a pretty famous dating spot for locals. The Hopia Ube and Hopia Baboy are the bakery’s famous delicacies.

The non-stop cam-whoring at the mini park eventually starved us so we went the nearby Dampa sa Mansion Restaurant for lunch. You get to choose the fresh seafood from the display and just buy the amount you need. You then have them cooked the way you want at 100 pesos. We were awful at estimating the amount of seafood we want and ended up paying much for the food we can’t all consume. We just got them packed for the next day. The place had a nice open space and you can just enjoy the fresh air while dining. Except for really rainy days when mists of water would just spray on your entire table if you are near the peripheries, which was unfortunately our case.

The rains were hard again and the driver updated us of the situation of the other usual city tour spots. On that day, butterflies were a no-show in the butterfly garden, and getting to the crocodile farm or the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center was impossible due to the flood-damaged bridge. We just moved to our next stop – the Binuatan Creations. Binuatan Creations had this weaving workshop where the staff assists you in making handloom woven mats using the indigenous plant fibers of Palawan drawn from the buntal, coconut, buri, cogon grass, pandan, and pineapple. Their products are world-class exports and you can buy these native products at the source. The bags are really good and cheap. Impulsive, broke, and thick-faced, I bought four and had my friend swipe her credit card for me. Once the buying starts, the shopping mode is on for both of us. We then rode to the newly opened LRC 908 Market Mall, where there was an assortment of local handcrafts, pearl accessories, and lots of pasalubong items.

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It was a Sunday and my friend wanted to hear mass at the Immaculate Conception cathedral. The driver then brought us to the Baywalk, which was just very near the cathedral. The Baywalk is a famous place to enjoy the view of the Puerto Princesa Bay to stroll, bike (available for rent), and to try street food. After the usual photos, we were then finally transported to the cathedral. I had an hour to wait for my friend so I just killed time at Plaza Cuartel, which was just a few steps from the cathedral entrance.

Plaza Cuartel looks like a plain city park with concrete pavements, tall trees, water fountains, and benches. With the clinging couples at every corner, I now get why the driver said it is known to be a “lover’s park” for local teenagers. Yet I realized after some reading of inscribed texts at the monument, the ruins of an old garrison and tunnels are proof of its brutal history. This plaza is the site of Palawan Massacre. In the tunnels, 150 American prisoners of war were kept during World War II. It was on December 14, 1944, the Japanese decided to burn them all alive. Many died and only eleven prisoners survived and escaped the mass execution. Then it rained on me at this quite dark conclusion for the city tour.

Badjao at the Seafront
After the mass, we were both ready for our fourth leg of seafood pig-out. At 60 pesos, we got a tricycle to transport us from the cathedral to Badjao Seafront Restaurant. It’s a popular place and is expectedly crowded so we had to reserve a table earlier that day. When we arrived, the winds were strong and it was already quite dark. We had to pass through a hallway with wafting white curtains and can see that the restaurant is built on top of a mangrove forest. The place had large open windows, some of which were unfortunately covered then due to the winds. On nicer weather, I’m sure it has a beautiful sea-view. Named after the Badjaos, the restaurant is adorned with textiles that are associated with the seafaring tribes in the south. We agreed to just have modest dinner since we quite overspent for lunch. The mixed seafood dish was expectedly good. All our neighbouring tables had crabs, shrimps, and all the fish Palawan can offer, and all looked satisfied. This place lives up to its fame.

Big Brother and Garcellano
The fourth day was my friend’s last day and we figured to just enjoy our remaining hours at the House of Big Brother. For 1,000 pesos per night, our “housemate” room had two couple wide beds, a hot/cold shower, wide screened flat screen TV with cable and a kitchenette equipped with modern fire-less induction cooker, electric kettle, automatic rice cooker, refrigerator, microwave oven, cooking and dining utensils. Cooking skills would be very much handy and economical along with Palawan’s bountiful seafood and vegetables that are just waiting in the city markets. Big Brother offers quite a good deal for a larger group and a longer stay.

I still had one more night in the city so I had to check-in into another place by noon time and I fortunately discovered the cheapest place ever- the Garcellano Tourist Inn. It is only 250 pesos per night. Don’t expect Big Brother’s extra amenities, for this place only has fan rooms with private toilet and bath. They have bigger rooms for larger groups but the rates still remain less than 500 pesos. If most of the day you would just be enjoying the outdoors, this place gives you just the comfortable basics for your stay.

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Vietnam in Palawan: Chaolong
On this mission-less day, we finally tried Chaolong for lunch. We have been seeing many of outlets around the city. We discovered from the stories of our tricycle driver/tourist guide that this ubiquitous Vietnamese dish came along after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. At this time, Vietnamese migrants first began arriving in boats in the Philippines. A refugee camp was setup by the United Nations in Palawan. The still existing small community of the refugees, called Viet Ville, is about 13 kilometers up the road from Puerto Princessa.

To be more factual, Puerto Princesa’s chao long should be qualified, the Vietnamese chao long, is “scrummy” rice porridge (the chao) laden with innards (the long). Puerto Princesa’s chao long is flat, thin rice noodles in a sweet-savory broth with your chosen meats (beefbones, beef , pork), served with the indispensable plate containing raw bean sprouts, shoots of basil and mint, and a piece of kalamansi.

We had a taste of this dish at Bona’s Chaolong House and Restaurant, where prices are really cheap. I ordered the Beef Bones with Noodles Special (55 pesos) and French Bread with Cheese (25 pesos). I liked it a lot that I had Chaolong again for breakfast the next day.

Walking along Rizal Avenue
When my friend had to go to the airport for her flight, we just decided to walk from the House of Big Brother. Google maps advised us it was just near, and it was. When we arrived, we both gave tricycle drivers 50 pesos to get us to our accommodation. We realized it was too much. The regular fare which was eight or ten pesos was enough.

I was then alone. I decided to just walk again from the airport and along the stretch of Rizal avenue, one of city’s main streets. The air was so non-Manila. Even while strolling along a street with so many vehicles, the air was clean. Puerto Princesa lives up to being the cleanest and most environment-friendly city in the Philippines. This main road is sprawled with hotels, motorbike rentals, handicraft stores, travel agencies, restaurants, and bars. These are proudly good indicators of an ever booming tourism industry.

It was already night-time when I reached the Baywalk. Locals and tourists just leisurely hang out while viewing the quiet bay. The vibe has been peaceful not only here but throughout the areas I have been so far in the city. Locals and official reports verify that Puerto Princesa is still the most peaceful among the urban centers in the country. Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn had reported that the city has the lowest crime rate and highest crime solution efficiency compared to other urban centers in the country. With strong political will, significant impacts like this are truly achievable.

Ima’s Gulay Bar
It was my last dinner at this peaceful green city so I searched for the nearest vegetarian restaurant. Just a few blocks from where I was staying, I finally found Ima’s Gulay Bar. Quaint and somewhat intimate were my impressions of the place when I got in the wooden cottage. Their menu declared that they served delectable continental vegetarian dishes. I then automatically looked for entries that were unfamiliar. I ordered the spicy okra and mango pasta (70 pesos) and a smoothie called Ima’s blend (80 pesos). The restaurant had a good wifi connection so my partner and I had a “vegetarian dinner date” via Skype. He was also having his veggie bolognaise. With good vegetarian food, affordable prices, quiet ambience, and a free and fast wifi connection, Ima’s Gulay Bay is my instant favorite. I came back the next day for lunch and stayed there to do some writing until I had to leave for the airport.

I was welcomed back in Manila by the remaining wrath of Typhoon Gener. In the taxi on my way home, the strong wind howled, the heavy rain fell, and flood and traffic was everywhere. I just happily thought to myself that I have had a piece of Puerto Princesa and still has that sweet promise to return.

A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Why sports still chafes up against queer culture

We are seeing more and more players come out as being openly gay than ever before, and more leagues and teams even taking part in things such as Pride events. But it’s the fans who have to put on the pressure and to support LGBTQ players to effect real change.

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We are getting more of our first openly-gay sportsmen and women for their particular sports than ever before. The 2020 Superbowl featured more LGBTQ+ representation in its ad break than ever. Even the WWE had an openly gay couple win a tag championship (and unlike Trish Stratus and Lita, they weren’t just playing up the sapphic vibes for the assumed straight male audience.)

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

However, when it comes to sports and the Ls, the Gs, the Bs, the Ts, and the Qs, there is still a lot of taboo to unpack, and a lot of work to be done.

The question of transpeople in sport

By far the most hot-button issue in sports at the moment, the question of trans athletes competing alongside other members of the gender they identify has stumped a lot of people. We have, of course, seen trans athletes compete against and alongside people of their gender identity, such as Dr. Renee Richards and Fallon Fox. However, the latter was forced to hide her status as a transwoman until 2013, while the former had to win a New York Supreme Court case in order to compete with other women.

The answer to this question isn’t a simple one, either, as many argue and have evidence to suggest that transwomen who transition have had the benefits of biologically male puberty, including longer reach, greater muscle mass, and the like. As it stands, just over a third of women and under a quarter of men support trans athletes participating with others of their gender identity. Support for trans athletes is higher amongst other members of the queer community, including gay, bi, and pan people, as well as other transmen and transwomen. Yet it seems the public still has a long way to go to find the answer to this particular question.

There are spaces being created for trans athletes in some areas of sports, however. For instance, the first trans hockey team has taken to the ice in Boston. However, this creation of bespoke spaces for trans people denies them the opportunity to be treated and to compete as their gender identity dictates to them. 

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

There’s still a great risk to careers

There are gay men in every sport, there’s no denying that. However, there are still some sports and leagues that have no openly gay players. The NHL, for instance, hasn’t had even its first openly queer player. Not so much as a bi goalie. However, some research has shown that the reason for this might largely still be the threat of losing their job.

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Sports sociologist Cheryl MacDonald did a study in which both straight former NHL players and six openly gay hockey players outside the NHL spoke on attitudes within hockey about queerness. While there was no seeming consensus on whether the NHL was homophobic, there was general agreement that the risk of losing one’s career by coming out would outweigh the benefit of coming out. The most commonly mentioned concern was that players could be fired for being a “distraction” and that this applied not just to coming out as gay, but also to publicly dealing with mental health issues, addiction, a history of abuse, and so on.

In male sports, in particular, there is also the question of what role toxic masculinity has to play in the management of teams and how gay people are treated. One example of the case of an openly gay man being denied the next step of his career was Michael Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and competed well for them but ended up losing his roster spot to another athlete who was not outwardly gay.

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The impact of the internet

The democratizing effect of the World Wide Web has served as something of a double-edged sword when it comes to the world of queer sports. For many, it’s a lot easier to see the negatives as opposed to the positives. Trolling is as popular as past-time for the spiteful as ever, as the internet has made it a lot easier for people to send abusive and homophobic messages directly to queer people who are coming out, as seen in the case of Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union who were forced to defend their gay son against a barrage of online attacks.

However, there is also the potential for the internet to do a lot of gay for LGBTQ sportspeople, especially the younger members of the community. One study by GLSEN found that LGBTQ youth do find a lot more bullying and harassment online, but that they also find a much stronger and larger network of supportive peers. It is thought that the internet’s role in making queer culture more acceptable is what has played the largest part in helping so many more people come out than they would before. It clearly isn’t the solution to all problems the queer community face, but it can be used for good.

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The risk of losing fans

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As it currently stands, many professional sportsmen and women do not make their money solely from being good at their chosen sport. They make money because they are able to draw fans, which also helps them draw sponsors. Homophobic jeers and insults are common on many sporting pitches around the world, often aimed at members of opposing teams regardless of whether or not there’s any indication they are gay. With such virulent homophobia being clear and present as the default, it’s no wonder that so many players are hesitant to come out as gay.

More than one-third of US soccer fans openly hold homophobic views, as one study has found. As such, for an athlete to come out, they have to risk the very real danger of losing a significant portion of their fans. Fan outcry can be enough to grab the attention of sponsors, which can risk a player losing their sponsorship and, in the worst-case scenarios, losing their job. Of course, there would be a risk of major blowback for any major sporting team that fired an openly-gay player for reasons related to their sexuality, but how many are willing to risk that?

Many teams are still desperate to avoid any kind of PR problem. Even if news coverage of players coming out as gay is primarily positive, it is still seen as a distraction, and not always in good faith. There are plenty of fans who take whatever reason they can to dismiss and criticize players who come out as gay, offering them an effective shield against criticisms of their own homophobia.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Could the problem be in the locker rooms, too?

Many of us like to think of the ideal team mentality and to apply it to the teams that we support. We might like to think that a good teammate will have their teammate’s back, no matter what the conflict they’re facing is. However, that’s not the perception of many in the teams, at least for gay men. There could be a problem with teams being able to accept openly gay men amongst them.

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One study looked at the athletes that performed in the last three Summer Olympics and found a worrying trend.  While 60% of openly gay women athletes participated in team sports, there was not a single man who was openly gay and also competed in a team. This isn’t to say that gay men aren’t competing in team sports, they just don’t feel comfortable sharing their sexuality. Research has shown that male sporting teams have had the effect of taking traditional masculine behaviors and heightened them, such as dominance and self-reliance. As such, behaviors that might defy these traditional masculine expectations, or be seen to defy them, could result in one being ostracized within one’s own team. 

Other reports have shown that homophobic locker room talk is still very prevalent in team sports. Male athletes hear homophobic slurs both on the pitch or rink as well as amongst their own team members. Several players have attested to hearing slurs towards queer people used in locker rooms. It’s simply an accepted behavior by many men, and there are those who divorce the slur from its homophobic roots, but that’s of little help or consequence to gay mean who feel threatened by an environment of seemingly normalized homophobia.

Shaping the future of queer sports

Unfortunately, it has been proven time and time again that simply waiting for times to change isn’t enough. The fans, players, teams, and the organizers all play a role in making queer faces more acceptable in sports, and there’s still a lot of playground and locker room bullying to beat back. But the trend seems to be on the right side, at least.

As mentioned, we are seeing more and more players come out as being openly gay than ever before, and more leagues and teams even taking part in things such as Pride events. But it’s the fans who have to put on the pressure and to support LGBTQ players to effect real change.


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Health & Wellness

Study finds most young women unhappy, stressed about their sex lives

Half of young women experience sexually-related personal distress, with one in five women having at least one female sexual dysfunction (FSD), new research by Monash University shows.

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Half of young women experience sexually-related personal distress, with one in five women having at least one female sexual dysfunction (FSD), new research by Monash University shows.

A study conducted in Australia by the Women’s Health Research Program at Monash University has reported, for the first time, an overall picture of the sexual wellbeing of Australian women between the ages of 18 and 39. The findings have been published today (Monday 24 February 2020) in the international journal, Fertility and Sterility.

Results showed 50.2 per cent of young Australian women experienced some form of sexually-related personal distress. This relates to the degree of feeling guilty, embarrassed, stressed or unhappy about their sex lives.

A concerning 29.6 per cent of women experienced sexually-related personal distress without dysfunction, and 20.6 per cent had at least one FSD.

The most common FSD was low sexual self-image, which caused distress for 11 per cent of study participants. Arousal, desire, orgasm and responsiveness dysfunction affected 9 per cent, 8 per cent, 7.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent of the study cohort respectively.

Sexual self-image dysfunction was associated with being overweight, obese, living together with partner, not married, married and breastfeeding.

Taking psychotropic medication (such as antidepressants), reported by 20 per cent of surveyed women, had the most pervasive impact on sexual function. The use of the combined oral contraceptive pill was not associated with any sexual dysfunction.

“Sexual wellbeing is recognised as a fundamental human right. It is of great concern that one in five young women have an apparent sexual dysfunction and half of all women within this age group experience sexually-related personal distress,” senior author and Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University, Susan Davis, said.

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“This is a wake-up call to the community and signals the importance of health professionals being open and adequately prepared to discuss young women’s sexual health concerns.”

The Grollo-Ruzzene Foundation Younger Women’s Health Study, funded by Grollo Ruzzene Foundation, recruited 6986 women aged 18-39 years, living in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, to take part in the study.

All women completed a questionnaire that assessed their sexual wellbeing in terms of desire, arousal, responsiveness, orgasm, and self-image. Participants also evaluated whether they had sexually-associated personal distress and provided extensive demographic information.

Almost one-third of participants described themselves as single, 47 per cent had a body mass index within the normal range, and nearly 70 per cent had reported being sexually active in the 30 days preceding the study.

Women who habitually monitored their appearance, and for whom appearance determined their level of physical self-worth, reported being less sexually assertive and more self-conscious during intimacy, and experienced lower sexual satisfaction.

Professor Davis said if untreated, sexually-related personal distress and FSD could impact relationships and overall quality of life as women aged.

“The high prevalence of sexually-related personal distress signals the importance of health professionals, particularly those working in the fields of gynaecology and fertility, being adequately prepared to routinely ask young women about any sexual health concerns, and to have an appropriate management or referral pathway in place,” Professor Davis said.

The study, titled ‘The prevalence of sexual dysfunctions and sexually-related distress in young women: a cross-sectional survey’, was authored by: Ms Jia Zheng, Dr Marina Skiba, Professor Robin Bell, Dr Rakibul Islam and Professor Susan Davis from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

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Health & Wellness

Half of trans youth avoid disclosing gender identity to a health care provider

The most common reasons cited for withholding gender identity were feeling uncomfortable and not knowing how to bring it up, with only 25% saying they preferred to be the ones to broach the topic.

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Photo by Chris Johnson from Unsplash.com

Researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh surveyed patients in a local clinic providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth and found that a surprisingly high number of them intentionally avoided disclosing their gender identity to doctors outside the clinic.

The paper was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“The provider-patient power dynamic is a real one,” said lead author Gina Sequeira, M.D., M.S., adolescent medicine fellow at UPMC Children’s Hospital. “It’s important for us as providers to open the door and ask young people in a respectful and open way if they would like to talk about their identity.”

When providers know that a young patient is transgender, they’re in a better position to ensure access to services, from medical transition to mental health, Sequeira said.

During the summer and fall of 2018, she analyzed survey responses from 153 transgender youth ages 12-26 years old. Two-thirds identified as male, one-fifth as female and another fifth as nonbinary.

While 78% of the participants reported disclosing their gender identity to a health care provider outside the clinic at least once, 47% reported intentionally avoiding disclosure, even in situations where they thought it might be important for their health.

The most common reasons cited for withholding gender identity were feeling uncomfortable and not knowing how to bring it up, with only 25% saying they preferred to be the ones to broach the topic.

Instead, participants suggested multiple ways clinics can create spaces to help young patients feel more comfortable disclosing their gender identities, including transgender-friendly materials in the waiting room, forms that include a checkbox for gender identity and educating staff about using a patient’s preferred name and pronouns.

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It’s important to note that the gender clinic where participants were recruited requires parent or guardian consent for treatment of minors — a group that makes up half of the total study sample — meaning these youth are “out” at home and often have at least one supportive caregiver in their lives.

Given that sampling bias, Sequeira was surprised to see so many participants avoiding disclosure.

“I suspect if we looked in a non-clinical sample, that number would be much higher,” Sequeira said. “Our patients have already overcome many barriers.”

Sequeira is expanding the study to sample a larger, more general population of transgender youth through social media.

Additional authors on the study include Kristin Ray, M.D., M.S., of Pitt; Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., of Pitt and UPMC Children’s Hospital; and Robert Coulter, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

4 Tips for getting into better shape

Accept that while getting into better shape can be challenging, it is doable with the right approach and mindset.

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It’s not easy to get fit and shed unwanted pounds, and there are no shortcuts to achieving your desired results. If it were then everyone would be successful at doing it.

PHOTO FROM PEXELS.COM

There are tips you can use to help you get into better shape and improve your overall health and body. Start by setting goals for yourself and keeping track of your weight, so you know what’s working and when you need to make adjustments. Accept that while getting into better shape can be challenging, it is doable with the right approach and mindset.

1. Make A Commitment to Yourself

Now is an excellent time to stop making excuses for why you can’t and think of all the possibilities that lie ahead. Get into better shape by making a commitment to yourself that you’re going to follow through with actions and meet your fitness goals. Find physical activities you enjoy doing and pick a time of day you’re going to exercise so that you work it into your schedule. You’re going to struggle to look better if you’re dishonest with yourself and are always looking for the easy way out.

2. Build Muscle

Another tip for getting into better shape is to focus on building muscle mass so you can feel more confident in your clothes. There are many ways to do this, including following a weight lifting regimen and taking RAD140 SARM. The more muscle you have on your body, the less room there will be for fat to exist. Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep so that your body can begin to transform for the better.

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3. Prepare & Eat Nutritious Meals

Your diet has a lot of impact on whether or not you’re going to be able to get and stay in prime shape. Therefore, make it a point to prepare and eat nutritious meals each day. Commit to eating a healthy breakfast filled with protein to get you off to the right start. Be sure to eat small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going strong and stay away from certain foods such as unhealthy fats and added sugars. Make plenty of room in your diet for lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables and notice how much more quickly you’re able to lose weight and look fit.

4. Train for A Race or Event

All that may be missing right now is having any motivation to get into better shape. Consider training for a specific race or event to help get you on the right track. Pick an activity that will challenge you and force you to work hard and live a healthy lifestyle. For example, you can participate in a triathlon or begin running and sign up for a half or full marathon. Once you register for the event, you’ll have no choice but to work hard and get into better physical shape. Not only will you look better after you cross the finish line, but you’ll feel good about yourself for having followed through with this goal and can be proud of your accomplishment. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

What insurance policies should you get when travelling abroad

When you are visiting a country for the first time, all you want to worry about is the exploring and sightseeing adventures you will be going on.

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If you are planning an exciting trip abroad, you probably have done some serious digging on travel websites to make sure you have the best air ticket deals and hotel accommodation packages.  However, only a few people out there will do the responsible thing and look for insurance policies they might need when/if things go wrong. It is understandable, though why we might feel reluctant to give insurance the attention it deserves. We always like to expect the best and believe that the wind will always be in our sails, but that, unfortunately, is not realistic. 

Road accidents and theft incidents are more common than our optimistic selves would like to believe. So, if you are heading somewhere soon, take the necessary precautions and read below to understand what insurance policies you should get before traveling.

Travel Insurance

You need to have insurance for the expensive flight ticket you just booked. There is no guarantee when it comes to air flights; you are always one blizzard or sand storm away from irrevocably losing your non-refundable ticket. You should consider travel insurance to be eligible for compensation from the airline should your flight be canceled for any reason. Travel insurance will often include coverage for lost or stolen luggage as well as meals and accommodation should there be a delay or cancellation of your booked flight. You need to make sure you have this set prior to traveling to avoid the extra charges when buying insurance from anywhere else other than your home country. 

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Health Insurance

If you are planning on just getting one kind of insurance, then make sure it’s healthcare. Healthcare is very costly everywhere, and especially if you suffer from a health condition or take special medications, you will be thankful that you invested some money towards ensuring you have proper health coverage when traveling abroad.

Renowned healthcare insurance providers at https://www.now-health.com/en/worldcare/ are even going the extra mile to provide their customers with instant support abroad. Their user-friendly mobile app and a dedicated 24/7 customer support offering translation services will be exactly what you need when you find yourself in the ER with your pregnant wife and doctors and nurses who do not speak your language. 

Property Insurance

When you are visiting a country for the first time, all you want to worry about is the exploring and sightseeing adventures you will be going on. You do not want to think about your belongings that you left back at the hotel. You should seriously consider this kind of insurance if you are a frequent flyer who flies with expensive items like jewelry or hi-tech gadgets. According to your insurance plan, you will be offered decent compensation for any lost or damaged belongings. However, before going ahead and purchasing a new policy for this purpose, it is worth checking with your homeowner insurance policy providers back at home first. As your belongings/property might be already covered under that policy regardless of where in the world they are.  

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Sports Injuries Insurance

You should get this type of insurance if you will be performing any kind of sports abroad. If you are planning on going on crazy adventures like bungee jumping, skydiving, or swimming with sharks, you will need a special high-risk sports insurance. These will often come at a higher premium that will vary according to the relative danger factor. Although your intention should always be not to use it, you will be glad you have this insurance policy if you get yourself into a life-threatening accident while traveling alone. 

Personal Liability Insurance

This insurance policy is very important to have whether at home or while traveling abroad. It’s essentially more so when you are traveling, since some countries have harsh laws when it comes to tourists being involved in property damage or endangering someone’s life, especially if it were a local’s. It is smart to get this insurance policy before your trip abroad as your insurance provider will step up and pay any financial compensations on your behalf and save you from an otherwise difficult situation. Even if you believe yourself to be an exemplary tourist, by now you should understand that accidents happen and it is better to be safe than sorry.

It might be hard for you to understand all there is about different insurance policies and the details and conditions they encompass. So, it is definitely worth it to schedule appointments with different insurance providers in your home country to get all of your questions answered. Make sure to check different providers and compare the benefits each one offers. Finally, you might want to check to see if it is more cost-effective to work with just one insurance company for all the policies you are interested in and benefit from “valuable customer” privileges.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Even seniors can benefit from using technology – Here’s how

The biggest struggle in terms of demographics in ages when it comes to technology are the older generations. This has nothing to do with their refusal to learn, but more the times these innovations were introduced.

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Everything these days is centered around technology.  Children grow up surrounded by it, forcing people to adapt to an ever changing society.  If you aren’t prepared to change along with technology, you may get left behind. 

The biggest struggle in terms of demographics in ages when it comes to technology are the older generations.  This has nothing to do with their refusal to learn, but more the times these innovations were introduced.  This translates to a tougher time adjusting even if they were to embrace it because of how far into their lives they have to now learn something new.  But once they embrace and are able to use technology, there are so many ways that they will find a benefit in their lives.

Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the biggest beneficiaries seniors will find when it comes to adopting the technology.  Some seniors find it hard to get around, due to an illness or their old age. So being able to access information about things they need like treatments, medicines or medical devices is made easier for them with the help of technology. All they need is a gadget that connects to the internet and they can easily visit CPOE and read up on their different medical-related content. Helping them make smarter medical decisions. There have been many innovations made that seniors might find that wouldn’t be available if technology had not been a contributing factor.

Friends and Family

With technology, keeping in contact with our friends is made easier.  Things like social media allow us to connect and communicate in ways that we would never have been able to do decades ago.  As funny as videos are of parents trying to figure out video applications like Skype, these programs are perfect for keeping in touch over distance and despite such busy schedules.  Studies show that as we age, our circle of friends gets smaller, and once in old age, your spouse becomes the person you spend the most time with.  If your spouse passes away, the quality of life for the other person sees a drastic negative impact.  This can be attributed to the lack of social support that we have later in life.  With increased connectivity to the world around us, it can be easier to attain and maintain the need for social interaction that is a human necessity.  

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Love

In the day and age of online dating and technology-driven relationships, seniors can find these types of apps to benefit their lives.  As discussed, it can be a difficult time when one loses a partner, especially when you lose that social connection to someone.  If that person did decide they are still seeking new relationships knowing they are more than capable of sharing their love, there are many ways to still find that opportunity. 

They may not be inclined to look into popular apps like Tinder, but using one of the many apps directed towards seniors and finding quality relationships may be just what you need to get back to finding meaningful and quality relationships again.

Activeness

The great thing about technology is the versatility it provides.  Similar to accessibility, technology can do so much more to promote a  healthy lifestyle.  Activity devices like smartwatches and trackers can do wonders to provide both motivation to stay active and give you the information regarding your health like heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.  Having this information readily available and easy to access can do wonders in promoting an active routine in your old age.

Mental Ability

As we grow older, we understand that the body needs to get in proper amounts of exercise in order to stay healthy and in shape.  The mind is no different because as you age, you must keep the brain as active for it to stay healthy and in the right shape.  There are applications and programs made to promote brain health and keep you alert and sharp.  These will act as daily exercises to prevent problems that might arise associated with old age.  Mental games help slow down or stop things like dementia, or might be important tools to regain mental activity in the case of a stroke.  The brain, in these cases, may have lost certain abilities, and exercises provided by certain applications can prove to be beneficial.  

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Because many people either grew up in the middle of this change or with technology already prevalent, they never had to make those adjustments.  As we get older, it is important to maintain certain lifestyles that promote things like good health, accessibility, and connectivity.  As daunting as technology might be, there are so many ways to benefit even in old age.

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