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The genderless and infinite soul

Tamsin Wu writes about how the concept of reincarnation can be crucial in understanding and accepting the natural existence of LGBTQ in our lives.

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Souls pertain to the immortal force that drives the human being. Being immortal and immaterial, it never perishes, but rather gets to be incarnated time after time. Reincarnations are used to explain away the amazing talents of child prodigies, the unexplainable connection between soulmates, as well as the countless events and karma we experience. The concept of reincarnation can be crucial in understanding and accepting the natural existence of LGBTQ in our lives.

In a nutshell, reincarnation is about infinite souls going through different existential forms and lives. Souls live through this world again and again in order to fulfill spiritual contracts, learn further and face karma. A lot of our current experiences depend on the good and bad deeds we’ve made in our lifetimes before. In enlightenment, souls would be able to go to higher consciousness and realms away from the world we know of today.

While some philosophies or spiritual beliefs – such as those found in Buddhism, Hinduism and Plato’s philosophy – talk about the rebirth and ascension of the soul throughout many lives before and after, other more popular religions discredit it. Some people are closed off from reincarnation thinking it’s too much of a foreign idea in our conventional belief system for it to be real. This is unsurprisingly so considering the widespread indoctrination of mainstream Christian religion on people since the time they were born. They wouldn’t be able to grasp the concept of reincarnation without the fear of punishment for compromising their devotedness in the typical Biblical interpretations they’re accustomed to. However, in these modern days, more Christians or Catholics are showing an open-mindedness to spiritual activities and beliefs that have been considered unholy by tradition. Besides psychic reading and feng shui, the belief in reincarnation is one of them.

Religious talks aside, it is refreshing to know that psychology and science is progressing in their studies of the possibility of reincarnation. From pro-LGBTQ arguments that gay people are just born that way to interesting explanations about how homosexuality exists naturally in the animal kingdom, perhaps we can put reincarnation into the mix.

In order to blow away the cancerous notion that LGBTQ is something abnormal, demonic or out of the ordinary, we have to comprehend nonheterosexuality from a standpoint higher than the limiting characteristics of anatomy our souls are moving in.

There are two things that need to be clarified in understanding LGBTQ – sexual orientation and sexual identity. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight belong to sexual orientation. For many years, most societies have been heteronormative – a romantic relationship should only be between a guy and girl. Homosexuality has been feared, derided and punished. In some parts of the globe, this is still the dangerous scenario. But, as the world works, there’s always a Yang (good) to the Yin (bad). Gradually, marriage equality has been sprouting in some countries and LGBTQ is being celebrated. Humanity is starting to understand that as long as something comes out of love, there is no evil when two people of the same gender enter into a relationship. There is no harm done when a person wants to express him/herself in a way that deviates from the social constructs of masculinity and femininity. In actuality, humans fall in one or more spectrum within the Kinsey Scale in their lifetime. Eventually, they find the point that rings true to them, which brings them a step closer to fulfillment. This sexuality scale is useful to understand attraction between humans because it goes beyond the binary concept of gender, which is not inherent in souls. It shows that people cannot be labeled as only either-or, black-and-white.

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Sexual identity, as the name implies, refers to which gender a person sees oneself as. Sexual identity doesn’t immediately determine sexual orientation, which is same as the fact that biological gender doesn’t determine sexual orientation.

This brings us to the topic of transgender. Why do transgendered people identify as a certain gender that’s the opposite of the biological gender they have been born with? Doesn’t this show that the soul does have a gender? Aside from the explanation of the complexity of gender development, we can also attribute this to the reincarnation concept. As has been said, souls have gone through different lifetimes, and none of us know what stories and experiences other people’s souls have gone through (unless you’re a legit past life reader, or you have remnants of past life memories in your brain which have been testified by some). Those past lifetimes may have left some deeply felt characteristics in some people’s current human existence that had them to believe that they must be a certain gender. Past experiences and karma comes into the picture. Whatever it is, we should not judge them because it is part of their own journey. The best that we can do to understand is to see pass the material and physical essence. We should not allow our consciousness to get stuck in this dimension of materialism. Otherwise, we will always follow a limited way of thinking that bars us from embracing the beautiful infiniteness and grandness of our existence in this universe.

All of us face different joys and struggles in our lives that pave the path towards growth, strength and wisdom. For the LGBTQ community, the struggle of simply being comfortable in our own skin can already be seen as a political stance and challenging towards the status quo, even though we’re just being our authentic selves. But what is the “self’? The self is the so-called “ego” that has been painted layers upon layers of physical characteristics, social engineering and labeling, consumerist inclinations, media and political propaganda. Peel away all those thick layers and we are just left with this profound life force called the soul, with energies derived from multiples lives. Hence, the soul’s ego is molded and re-molded depending on such layers presently dealt with by the soul. Contrary to what a lot of people have been thinking their whole lives, the soul is not defined by the body. It doesn’t have a ghostly, feather-light appearance of our physical body which has been portrayed countless times on the screen. The soul is without the imposing characteristics and behavior of a human gender. The soul is unisex, devoid of such human concept. That is why regardless of race, class, religion, gender, sexual expression and orientation, we are all the same at the core of our existence. This is a universal truth that holds all of us together. It is only with layers of physical limitations, lies, fabricated truths and distorted facts that we have been differentiated and pitted against each other, as well as blinded from the true nature of our being.

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To elucidate further the difference between the soul and ego, let me share with you a recent past life reading I’ve had with my girlfriend at a The Third Eye Wellness party. The past life reader gave me a feeling of certainty that her readings were true because of the things she said about my girlfriend and I even before I’ve divulged any information to her. Anyway, on to the past life…

I honestly couldn’t remember anymore if she asked us to pick cards when she was reading a part of our past (love)life. I can only remember the details she saw. According to her reading, I was a thin, frail-looking man and my girlfriend was the woman. I was a man of wealth who held a silent dignity and substance. The woman’s face looked a lot like my girlfriend’s face, and she was someone who loved to socialize and who wore big dresses. We both mutually loved each other, albeit discreetly, since she was already married to an off-putting man with a moustache. Although they didn’t have a happy marriage, she stayed poised and positive in her life. On the other hand, the past life reader told me that she could see a plump woman with a high-pitched voice, but she couldn’t tell if that was my wife or my mother. That plump woman was dominating me in that toxic relationship as I chose to keep mum whenever she scolds. However, there were times that she showed loving ways towards me. The past life reader added that the man whom my girlfriend was married to is a male relative of hers in this lifetime. It is someone whom she dislikes very much. (We know who that is..)

The past life reader told us that we never did anything unfaithful. We just loved each other without harming anyone else. After that lifetime, she said that perhaps our souls made a contract to be women in this lifetime (and, might I add, in a country wherein LGBTQ rights are still being largely fought for) to keep in tune with the kind of discreet relationship we had before.

However, as the past life reader also said, the lifetime she described to us isn’t necessarily the previous lifetime. There were probably a few lifetimes in-between that and this current lifetime. What is important, anyhow, is the learning and growth we’ve gained, and to continue to gain.

The read was indeed interesting and just goes to show how our egos change from one lifetime to another. However, there are some things that stay the same wherever lifetime your soul goes to. Parts of your personality and relationships repeat, albeit in different situations, from one lifetime to another.

As we go through life, the soul needs to be nurtured despite the obstacles put forth in our earthly existence. Pure intentions of love, compassion, helping and learning add positivity to the soul and the environment. Hate, ignorance and violence, on the other hand, add negativity. Therefore, attacking someone based on sexual orientation and gender is obviously wrong, and would definitely reap bad karma. This is done from a consciousness of ill and uninformed thoughts. Ultimately, the goal is to rid the soul, and on a grander scale, this world, of such impurities.

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In the words of Scarlet Johannson’s character Lucy, “We never really die”. Our bodies or selves gradually morph into death, but our souls surpass it. Souls will go from one lifetime to the next, and perhaps beyond this planet we call Earth. This isn’t a new radical way of existential thinking. Old centuries have recognized that there are higher spiritual planes and dimensions than our human mind can reach. It is only with the constant pursuit of noble values, such as wisdom and love, will we transcend this lowly, materialistic existence we’ve been held to. All souls – young and old – go through this worldly life to grow and break free from negativity and oppression. Eventually, we can all attain the spiritual height that sends us back to our source, or to God, as others would say.

In the meantime, let us enjoy discovering what learning the universe has to offer us, as well as what purposes our situations and relationships want us to fulfill.

A sure-footed wanderer. A shy, but strong personality. Hot-headed but cool. A critic of this propaganda-filled, often brainwashed society. A lover of nature, creativity and intellectual pursuits. Femme in all the right places. Breaking down stereotypical perspectives and narrow-mindedness. A writer with a pen name and no face. I'm a private person, but not closeted. Stay true!

Health & Wellness

Phl has most cases of fake medicines in Southeast Asia – UN report

Of 460 incidents of counterfeiting and illegal distribution of pharmaceutical products recorded within the region from 2013 to 2017, 193 occurred in the Philippines. Comparatively, 110 occurred in Thailand, 93 in Indonesia, and 49 in Vietnam.

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A study on transnational crime from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that the highest incidence of “falsified medicines” among Southeast Asian countries come from the Philippines.

Of 460 incidents of counterfeiting and illegal distribution of pharmaceutical products recorded within the region from 2013 to 2017, 193 occurred in the Philippines. Comparatively, 110 occurred in Thailand, 93 in Indonesia, and 49 in Vietnam.

Most of these counterfeit medicines were for urinary tract infection, erectile dysfunction, anti-infectives, and central nervous system (CNS). Meanwhile, nutrition supplements, cadiovascular, CNS, and metabolism drugs were among the most illegally distributed.

The UN study defined “falsified medicines” as pharmaceutical products “marketed with the intention to deceive buyers.” These could be misbranded, falsely labeled, or expired; may contain too little, too much, or none of its purported active ingredient.

As per the UN study, these products are ineffective, may be harmful or even deadly.

Pakistan, India and China are the leading sources of falsified medicines that end up in the Philippines through organized criminal networks.

The Philippines itself was the source in 12 incidents of either falsified or illegally distributed medicines in the US, Japan and Germany.

The report – titled “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact” – noted that international criminal organizations may have earned as much as $2 billion from trafficking falsified medicines in the Philippines in 2014.

To solve the problem, the UN report recommended cross-border cooperation among countries. It warned against hastily tightening laws as this may only divert the illicit trade toward more vulnerable areas. The study similarly stated that countries in the Southeast Asian region must boost the legitimate trade in pharmaceuticals and make genuine medicines more available and affordable.

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Between 16% and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder.

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Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder. This is according to “Suicidality in a Community Sample of Early Adolescents: A Three-Phase Follow-Up Study”, done by Voltas, N., Hernández-Martínez, C., Arija, V. and Canals, J.

In the study, the researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods: 10 years old, 11 years old and 13 years old. At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

The disorders were diagnosed with standardised international criteria and the boys and girls were monitored to see how suicidal ideation developed throughout the research period.

The figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16% of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33% stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18% of the students surveyed. The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2% of the children with an average age of 11 years old. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

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The researchers also observed what factors predicted suicidal ideation and they found here that there were differences between the sexes.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation,” says Núria Voltas, one of the researchers involved in the study. In girls, on the other hand, it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socioeconomic situation.

The results of this research, published in the scientific journal Archives of Suicide Studies reveal the factors that can trigger ideas of suicide in this age group. “Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take prevention measures in preadolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” she concludes.

This is a noteworthy study, considering other – and earlier – studies have repeatedly highlighted how members of the LGBTQIA community are greatly affected by suicide. In 2018, for instance, a study from the University of Arizona noted that 50.8% of transmasculine adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 have attempted suicide at least once, while 41.8% of nonbinary adolescents – those who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female – have attempted suicide.

Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in Pediatrics noted that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in LGBT Health found that a total of 37% of trans respondents reported having seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months and 32% had ever attempted a suicide. Offensive treatment during the past three months and lifetime exposure to trans-related violence were significantly associated with suicidality. 


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Health & Wellness

FDA warns public on dangers of injectable whitening products like glutathione

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

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It sure took them a while, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has – finally – warned the public on the dangers associated with the use of injectable lightening agents such as glutathione.

In an advisory dated July 5, 2019 – FDA Advisory No. 2019-182 – the FDA noted that “in the Philippines, several health and beauty salons, wellness spa and beauty clinics are offering all kinds of beauty enhancements, services and skin treatments. It is alarming that they also offer services such as intravenous drip or infusion using skin lightening agents including reduced glutathione, vitamin C and other injections.

“To date there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment. The FDA has not approved any injectable products for skin lightening. Injectable glutathione is approved by FDA Philippines as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.”

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. “Also of concern is the possibility of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Injectable glutathione is sometimes paired with intravenous Vitamin C. Vitamin C injection may form kidney stones if the urine is acidic. Large doses of Vitamin C have resulted in hemodialysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.”

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.
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And given that glutathione affects the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the human skin, hair and eyes their color), “there are (also) theoretical concerns about the long term skin cancer risk.”

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Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.

The FDA is urging people to consult ONLY a board-certified dermatologist, and avoid buying injectable products online and from being lured to a promising effect of medicines as beauty products.

“Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any side effects and report it to FDA at pharmacovigilance@fda.gov.ph or via online reporting through www.fda.gov.ph.” The Center for Drug Regulation and Research may also be reached at (02) 809-5596.

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Health & Wellness

Seeing greenery linked to less intense and frequent cravings

The findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford.

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Being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and harmful foods, new research has shown.

The study, led by the University of Plymouth, is the first to demonstrate that passive exposure to nearby green space is linked to both lower frequencies and strengths of craving. It builds on previous research suggesting exercising in nature can reduce cravings, by demonstrating the same may be true irrespective of physical activity.

Researchers say the findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford. They also suggest the causality of this link needs to be investigated further.

The study, published in the journal Health & Place, is the first to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions or feelings.

It involved academics from the University’s School of Psychology, with support from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master’s degree in Plymouth, said: “It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s wellbeing. But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programs in the future.”

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For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative affect.

Among other things, it measured the proportion of green space in an individual’s residential neighborhood, the presence of green views from their home, their access to a garden or allotment; and their frequency of use of public green spaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

The study also measured physical activity undertaken within the same time frame that cravings were assessed, showing the reduced craving occurred irrespective of physical activity level.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology, added: “Craving contributes to a variety of health-damaging behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating. In turn, these can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes. Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step. Future research should investigate if and how green spaces can be used to help people withstand problematic cravings, enabling them to better manage cessation attempts in the future.”

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Alcohol causes significant harm to those other than the drinker

Some 21% of women and 23% of men experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. These harms include: threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems.

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Each year, one in five adults – estimated to reach 53 million people in the US alone – experience harm because of someone else’s drinking. This is according to “Alcohol’s secondhand harms in the United States: New data on prevalence and risk factors”, research done by Nayak, M. B. Patterson, D. Wilsnack, S. C. Karriker-Jaffe, K. J. and Greenfield, T. K., and which appeared in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

This is why, according to the researchers, similar to how policymakers addressed the effects of secondhand smoke, society also needs to combat the secondhand effects of drinking because alcohol’s harm to others is “a significant public health issue.”

To conduct the study, researchers led by Nayak of the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, analyzed data from two telephone surveys conducted in 2015 – the National Alcohol’s Harm to Others Survey and the National Alcohol Survey. The current research, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, looked at data from 8,750 respondents age 18 and older and provides support for alcohol control policies, such as taxation and pricing to reduce alcohol’s harm to persons other than the drinker.

According to the study, some 21% of women and 23% of men, an estimated 53 million adults, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. These harms include: threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems. The most common harm was threats or harassment, reported by 16% of survey respondents.

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The specific types of harm experienced differed by gender. Women were more likely to report financial and family problems, whereas ruined property, vandalism, and physical aggression were more likely to be reported by men.

The researchers also cited additional factors, including age and the person’s own drinking. For instance, people younger than age 25 had a higher risk of experiencing harm from someone else’s drinking.

Also, almost half of men and women who themselves were heavy drinkers said they had been harmed by someone else’s drinking. Even people who drank but not heavily were at two to three times the risk of harassment, threats, and driving-related harm compared with abstainers. Heavy drinking was defined as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men or four or more drinks for women at least monthly.

It is worth noting that members of sexual minority sectors have higher rates of polysubstance use/abuse.

“[T]he freedom to drink alcohol must be counter-balanced by the freedom from being afflicted by others’ drinking in ways manifested by homicide, alcohol-related sexual assault, car crashes, domestic abuse, lost household wages, and child neglect,” wrote Timothy Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., of the Boston Medical Center in an accompanying commentary.

Naimi advocates for increased taxes on alcoholic beverages, noting that there is strong evidence that increased alcohol taxes decrease excessive drinking and reduce the harms to people other than the drinker.

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Nayak – the research’s lead author – agreed. “Control policies, such as alcohol pricing, taxation, reduced availability, and restricting advertising, may be the most effective ways to reduce not only alcohol consumption but also alcohol’s harm to persons other than the drinker,” she said.

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Sexual minority women more likely to engage in high-intensity binge drinking

Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking.

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Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking. This is according to a study done by Jessica N. Fish and published in LGBT Health.

The study, “Sexual Orientation-Related Disparities in High-Intensity Binge Drinking: Findings from a Nationally Representative Sample“, eyed to assess sexual orientation differences in high-intensity binge drinking using (American) nationally representative data.

Data used were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III (N = 36,309), a nationally representative sample of US adults collected in 2012–2013. Sex-stratified adjusted logistic regression models were used to test sexual orientation differences in the prevalence of standard (4+ for women and 5+ for men) and high-intensity binge drinking (8+ and 12+ for women; 10+ and 15+ for men) across three dimensions of sexual orientation: sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity.

As per the researcher (and as stated): “Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking at two (adjusted odds ratios [aORs] ranging from 1.52 to 2.90) and three (aORs ranging from 1.61 to 3.27) times the standard cutoff for women (4+).”

Sexual minority men, depending on sexual orientation dimension, were equally or less likely than sexual majority men to engage in high-intensity binge drinking.

The results suggest that differences in alcohol-related risk among sexual minority individuals vary depending on sex and sexual orientation dimension.

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