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Metro Manila Pride, QC Pink Film Festival receive ILGCN Rainbow Warrior Award

The International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN) awarded the “Rainbow Warrior” Award to Metro Manila Pride and the Quezon City International Pink Film Festival for their works that help highlight the rainbow culture.

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Bill Schiller, ILGCN coordinator (right) looks on as Murphy Red of Kapederasyon and Bishop Richard Mickley of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit receive the “Rainbow Warrior” Award for Metro Manila Pride.

Bill Schiller, ILGCN coordinator (right) looks on as Murphy Red of Kapederasyon and Bishop Richard Mickley of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit receive the “Rainbow Warrior” Award for Metro Manila Pride.

Stockholm-based International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN) has awarded the “Rainbow Warrior” Award to Metro Manila Pride and the Quezon City International Pink Film Festival.

The award for Metro Manila Pride was received by some of the pioneers of the first Metro Manila Pride March in 1994, including Murphy Red of Kapederasyon and Bishop Richard Mickley of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit. Meanwhile, the second award for the Quezon City International Pink Film Festival was received by QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte; QC film festival organizer and film maker Nick Deocampo; and chairman of the Quezon City Pride Council Soxie Topacio.

“The motivation for the award included a salute to Metro Manila Pride because in its 20th anniversary, it continued to parade on city streets to make LGBT people visible,” said Bill Schiller, ILGCN coordinator. Metro Manila Pride was also cited for “confirming that on the rainbow (barometer) are men and women, young and old, native and foreign born, differently abled, HIV positive and negative, queer, trans, bi-sexual colleagues and their supporters.”

The Quezon City International Pink Film Festival was given the recognition for “emphasizing that films are one of the most powerful cultural weapons to combat intolerance, ignorance, provinciality and homophobia – a crucial ally in the political struggle for rainbow and all other human right and for teaching new LGBT generations about the painful sacrifice and pleasures of the past while illustrating how the drama and humor of yesterday help create bridges to today and tomorrow,” said Schiller.

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Recommendations for the ILGCN Rainbow Awards are initiated by the Information Secretariat in Stockholm, and then confirmed by ILGCN secretariats, coordinators, ambassadors, and supporters with the major criteria being work that has shown a strong emphasis on international work and the promotion of the rainbow culture.

The ILGCN Rainbow Awards was already given to courageous politicians and individuals in Eastern Europe who are facing severe verbal and physical homophobic attacks from political and religious leaders encouraging neo Nazi hoodlums to violence.  Some Swedish human rights organizations have also been awarded for adopting LGBT rights in their campaigns for Eastern Europe.

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).

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Among transgender children, gender identity as strong as in cisgender children

The similarities among transgender and cisgender children on the various measures were somewhat surprising, researchers said, because transgender children, unlike their cisgender counterparts, were early in life treated as a gender other than the one they currently identify as.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

Children who identify as the gender matching their sex at birth tend to gravitate toward the toys, clothing and friendships stereotypically associated with that gender. Now a study found that transgender children do the same with the gender they identify as, regardless of how long they have actually lived as a member of that gender.

New findings from the largest study of socially-transitioned transgender children in the world, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, show that gender identity and gender-typed preferences manifest similarly in both cis- and transgender children, even those who recently transitioned.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, followed more than 300 transgender children from across the US, as well as nearly 200 of their cisgender siblings and about 300 unrelated cisgender children as a control group. It is the first study to report on all of the participants in the TransYouth Project, launched in 2013 by UW professor of psychology Kristina Olson.

The transgender children in this study, all of whom enrolled between the ages of 3 and 12, had socially – but not medically – transitioned when they participated: They had changed their pronouns and often their first names, as well as dress and play in ways associated with a gender other than their sex at birth.

For this study, researchers met individually with participants and their parents at participants’ homes, conferences and camps. Participants were asked about specific aspects of life that are typically connected to gender – clothing, toys and friends. The researchers also evaluated participants’ sense of their own gender identity. While the team observed some variability in how strong children’s preferences and identities were, the transgender children showed, on average, strong preferences and behaviors associated with their current gender, just as the cisgender children with whom they were compared.

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“Trans kids are showing strong identities and preferences that are different from their assigned sex,” said lead author Selin Gülgöz, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at the UW and will start a new position this winter as an assistant professor at Fordham University. “There is almost no difference between these trans- and cisgender kids of the same gender identity – both in how, and the extent to which, they identify with their gender or express that gender.”

In the study, this was evident in assessments of participants’ behavior. “While in both groups there were, for example, some tomboys, on average, most transgender girls, like their cisgender counterparts, wore stereotypically feminine clothing, chose toys such as dolls to play with, preferred playing with female playmates, and identified themselves clearly as girls, and not boys,” said Olson, the study’s senior author. “Thus the transgender group looked similar to the cisgender group in both the range of responses and the most common responses.”

Of the transgender and cisgender control group participants, about one-third were boys, and two-thirds were girls; the average age was 8. Among the cisgender siblings, the average age was also 8, with slightly more boys than girls.

The finding that transgender children’s gender identity was generally equivalent to that of cisgender children was based on analysis of the survey and behavioral data.

When asked to identify their gender, an equivalent percentage of cisgender and transgender children – 83% and 84%, respectively – named their current gender. (Researchers note that among the youngest participants in all groups, this question often resulted in a less definitive answer like “I don’t know.”)

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The similarities among transgender and cisgender children on the various measures were somewhat surprising, researchers said, because transgender children, unlike their cisgender counterparts, were early in life treated as a gender other than the one they currently identify as.

As part of the study, researchers asked parents for photos of their child from birth through toddlerhood at typical social events such as birthdays and holidays to capture information such as what the child wore or what their room looked like. These images helped show that transgender children were initially socialized among families and friends as the gender associated with their sex at birth. However, years later there appears to be no impact of that early sex-specific socialization. These results suggest that years later, the impact of this early sex-specific socialization is not apparent on these measures of children’s gender preferences and identities.

This suggests that transgender children may be self-socializing to learn how to “be” their current gender, Gülgöz said.

“Kids aren’t passive about their environment. Once they have a sense of their gender identity, they will look for cues from their environment, noticing what society’s expectations are, and attending to information about the gender they identify as,” Gülgöz said.

How – and for how long – a transgender child was treated as their assigned sex does not appear to affect their current gender identity and expression, Gülgöz said.

“We’re not seeing any increases or decreases over time in how strongly transgender children identify with their current gender,” Gülgöz said.

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This study did not include children who use nonbinary pronouns like “they” or who came out as transgender later in life. Further, all members of the study had at least some family support of their transgender identity. Whether the present findings would extend to these other groups of participants is currently unknown, Olson cautions.

This study adds to findings from previous UW research, which showed that transgender children’s sense of gender identity was consistent, whether tested before or after they transitioned socially.

“Our data thus far suggest that the act of transitioning probably isn’t affecting gender identity one way or the other,” Olson said.

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NEWSMAKERS

Cebu Pacific hires transwomen flight attendants

Cebu Pacific Airlines, one of the two biggest airline companies in the Philippines, has hired its first transgender women flight attendants – Mikee Vitug and Jess Labares.

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Screencap from the Facebook post of Jess Labares

A move to recognize transgender women.

Cebu Pacific Airlines, one of the two biggest airline companies in the Philippines, has hired its first transgender women flight attendants – Mikee Vitug and Jess Labares.

Since it was established 19 years ago to compete with Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific has flown over 100 million passengers; and now flies to over 60 destinations in Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

In a Facebook post sharing her “achievement”, Vitug said she was actually hesitant to apply at first, particularly because of the still-conservative view of Filipinos. But after some prodding, she relented.

“I hope it will spark a change sa kung paano ang pagtingin ng mga tao sa mga transwoman na hindi kami i-box or i-stereotype kasi tao din naman kami,” Vitug stated. “To those people who are afraid of going out of their comfort zone, to those people who want to make a change but keep on holding themselves back because of prejudice, judgement, and discrimination, just listen to your heart and make it happen because nothing is impossible.”

Do not be afraid to fail, be fraid of not trying.Take a leap of faith, you never know what is waiting for you on the…

Posted by Mikee Vitug on Monday, November 18, 2019

For her part, Labares said that she hopes “this will be an inspiration not just to the LGBTQ community but to everyone who dreams and has goals in life to never give up on something you really want… Perseverance, positivity, determination and loving what you are doing are some of the perfect formula to achieve your goal and will definitely lead you the way to success and happiness.”

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Fifty seven days..57 days of hardship, tears, laughters and sacrifice.Becoming a cabin crew was never a childhood…

Posted by Jess Labares on Monday, November 18, 2019

While this development is noteworthy for Cebu pacific Airlines, the company’s hiring policy is still not exactly completely non-discriminatory – e.g. it continues to be ageist and lookist. As per cabincrewhg.com, the airline company only hires those between the ages of 18-25, and to succeed, applicants should have “weight proportionate to height”, “clear complexion” and “catchy smile.”

The shameful practices promoting outdated visions of what a flight attendants should look like – and how they should behave – continues to be dominant. For instance, the national airlines of Saudi Arabia and Oman – Saudia and Oman Air – closely follow the Cebu pacific Airlines recruitment format by hiring only female cabin crew members aged to 30. Candidates should also be slim and free of any marks or scars

But overseas, other progressive developments have been happening in the airline industry. In 2017, for instance, in Russia, a Moscow court ruled in favor of a flight attendant who said Russia’s flagship airline stopped assigning her to work long-haul international flights because of her weight. And in April 2019, Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic modified their dress codes and no longer required female flight attendants to wear makeup. Pants were also given to all as a standard uniform option.

Also, earlier, Khrise Castro was hired by American Airlines, proving – as she stated in her Facebook post – that “I am living proof that dreams do come true no matter how impossible it seems.”

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From Khrise Castro of American Airlines:"Being a flight attendant is the ultimate dream for a lot of females and…

Posted by Flyhigh Manila on Saturday, April 6, 2019

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Sexual minorities continue to face discrimination, despite increasing support

While sexual minorities are not inherently more vulnerable to health concerns, their experiences with anti-LGB stress, stigma, and discrimination across the life course may lead to poor and complicated health patterns.

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Photo by Delia Giandeini from Unsplash.com

Despite increasing support for the rights of people in the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination remains a critical and ongoing issue for this population, according to a study published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

Researchers found that adults who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual — as well as people who reported same-sex attraction or same-sex sexual partners, referred to as sexual minorities — experienced discrimination and victimization at different rates across age.

Cara Exten, assistant professor of nursing at Penn State, said the findings are a reminder that discrimination is still a significant issue for sexual minorities, which is key for policy, prevention and intervention.

“We conducted this study because we wanted to better understand discrimination experiences affecting sexual minority populations,” Exten said. “We wanted to examine whether there were adults at particular ages who were more likely to have experienced discrimination in the past year — and if so, what types of discrimination. We aimed to call attention to the continued high rates of discrimination that LGBTQ+ individuals are experiencing — because we know that these experiences affect their health.”

Collaborator Stephanie Lanza, professor of biobehavioral health and director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, noted that “a better understanding of recent experiences of discrimination among adults across a wide range of ages is necessary so that we can add to the national discourse on LGBTQ+ disparities in physical and mental health. Importantly, examining specific types of discrimination experienced by sexual minorities across age can indicate where there is greatest need for intervention — both to support individuals and to address stigma more broadly.”

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According to the researchers, previous work has found that sexual minorities tend to experience poorer health than non-sexual minorities. Exten said that while sexual minorities are not inherently more vulnerable to health concerns, their experiences with anti-LGB stress, stigma, and discrimination across the life course may lead to poor and complicated health patterns.

“Research has linked discrimination and poor health outcomes among minorities, but we didn’t have a clear picture of whether sexual minorities may be more or less vulnerable to experiencing discrimination at certain points during their life,” Exten said. “We might, for example, find that older adults are more likely to experience discrimination in health care settings as they age, given that older adults are more likely to need medical care.”

The researchers used data gathered from a nationally representative study of U.S. citizens on 2,993 sexual minorities between the ages of 18 and 65. Participants answered a questionnaire about how often they had experienced discrimination in the previous year due to being perceived as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The survey included questions about whether they had experienced six different forms of discrimination. The researchers grouped the different types of discrimination into three groups: general, like in public places like shops or restaurants; victimization, such as being called names, pushed or threatened; and healthcare discrimination, such as trouble obtaining healthcare due to sexual orientation, or discrimination during treatment.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that 17% of participants had experienced some form of discrimination in the previous year. In total, 13% reported general discrimination, 12% reported victimization and 7% reported healthcare discrimination.

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The researchers also broke down the data by age, gender, and sexual identity. In general, discrimination experiences were most common in early adulthood, with another increase in middle adulthood. Males were generally more likely to report having experienced anti-LGB discrimination and victimization in the last year. Healthcare discrimination peaked among individuals in their early 50s.

“The overall rates were quite high,” Exten said. “This was particularly true in some subgroups of the community. Among 18-year-olds, one in five males experienced victimization in the past year. Experiencing victimization can be quite traumatic, and certainly acts as a stressor for these individuals. We hope these findings will be a call to action.”

Exten said the findings suggest the need for continued work in reducing discrimination.

“Reducing discrimination in the United States will require broad approaches within our communities, schools, workplaces, healthcare facilities, and families,” Exten said. “It is critical that we continue to recognize that discrimination is happening and that we continue to work to develop more inclusive policies and spaces in our communities.

Jessica N. Fish, University of Maryland; and Stephen T. Russell, University of Texas at Austin, also participated in this work.

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NEWSMAKERS

Facial recognition software has a gender problem

A study found that facial analysis services performed consistently worse on transgender individuals, and were universally unable to classify non-binary genders.

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Photo by Pierrick VAN-TROOST from Unsplash.com

With a brief glance at a single face, emerging facial recognition software can now categorize the gender of many men and women with remarkable accuracy.

But if that face belongs to a transgender person, such systems get it wrong more than one third of the time, according to new University of Colorado Boulder research.

“We found that facial analysis services performed consistently worse on transgender individuals, and were universally unable to classify non-binary genders,” said lead author Morgan Klaus Scheuerman, a PhD student in the Information Science department. “While there are many different types of people out there, these systems have an extremely limited view of what gender looks like.”

The study comes at a time when facial analysis technologies – which use hidden cameras to assess and characterize certain features about an individual – are becoming increasingly prevalent, embedded in everything from smartphone dating apps and digital kiosks at malls to airport security and law enforcement surveillance systems.

Previous research suggests they tend to be most accurate when assessing the gender of white men, but misidentify women of color as much as one-third of the time.

“We knew there were inherent biases in these systems around race and ethnicity and we suspected there would also be problems around gender,” said senior author Jed Brubaker, an assistant professor of Information Science. “We set out to test this in the real world.”

Researchers collected 2,450 images of faces from Instagram, each of which had been labeled by its owner with a hashtag indicating their gender identity. The pictures were then divided into seven groups of 350 images (#women, #man, #transwoman, #transman, #agender, #agenderqueer, #nonbinary) and analyzed by four of the largest providers of facial analysis services (IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and Clarifai).

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Notably, Google was not included because it does not offer gender recognition services.

On average, the systems were most accurate with photos of cisgender women (those born female and identifying as female), getting their gender right 98.3% of the time. They categorized cisgender men accurately 97.6% of the time.

But trans men were wrongly identified as women up to 38% of the time.

And those who identified as agender, genderqueer or nonbinary – indicating that they identify as neither male or female – were mischaracterized 100 percent of the time.

“These systems don’t know any other language but male or female, so for many gender identities it is not possible for them to be correct,” says Brubaker.

The study also suggests that such services identify gender based on outdated stereotypes.

When Scheuerman, who is male and has long hair, submitted his own picture, half categorized him as female.

The researchers could not get access to the training data, or image inputs used to “teach” the system what male and female looks like, but previous research suggests they assess things like eye position, lip fullness, hair length and even clothing.

“These systems run the risk of reinforcing stereotypes of what you should look like if you want to be recognized as a man or a woman. And that impacts everyone,” said Scheuerman.

The market for facial recognition services is projected to double by 2024, as tech developers work to improve human-robot interaction and more carefully target ads to shoppers. Already, Brubaker notes, people engage with facial recognition technology every day to gain access to their smartphones or log into their computers.

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If it has a tendency to misgender certain, already vulnerable, populations that could have grave consequences.

For instance, a match-making app could set someone up on a date with the wrong gender, leading to a potentially dangerous situation. Or a mismatch between the gender a facial recognition program sees and the documentation a person carries could lead to problems getting through airport security, says Scheuerman.

He is most concerned that such systems reaffirm notions that transgender people don’t fit in.

“People think of computer vision as futuristic, but there are lots of people who could be left out of this so-called future,” he said.

The authors say they’d like to see tech companies move away from gender classification entirely and stick to more specific labels like “long hair” or “make-up” when assessing images.

“When you walk down the street you might look at someone and presume that you know what their gender is, but that is a really quaint idea from the ’90s and it is not what the world is like anymore,” said Brubaker. “As our vision and our cultural understanding of what gender is has evolved. The algorithms driving our technological future have not. That’s deeply problematic.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Movie industry’s prejudice against people with disabilities still strong

More than half of the films (58) evaluated in 2018 did not include a single character (even non-speaking role) with a disability, a four-year high. Furthermore, 83 films had no female characters with a disability. This is an increase from 2017 but on par with 2015.

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Photo by Sabeel Ahammed from Pexels.com

Unlike in television, where disability representation has gone up in recent years, the percentage of characters with disabilities in the top 1,200 films has hit a four-year low. Just 1.6% of the 4,445 speaking characters analyzed have a disability, according to a study by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Five of these films revolved around an underrepresented leading character with a disability and one showcased a leading character from the LGBT community.

“Including characters with disabilities does not happen by accident,” said Lauren Appelbaum, who leads RespectAbility’s Hollywood Inclusion efforts as the organization’s VP of communications and author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit. “What we see on screen influences how we act in real life, but that is dependent on filmmakers choosing to include individuals with disabilities in diverse and accurate portrayals. Thus, when just fewer than two percent of films include speaking characters with disabilities, the disability community is pretty much erased on screen. When filmmakers choose to include characters with disabilities, they can help to remove the stigmas that currently exist about interacting with individuals with disabilities.”

When the Annenberg study began tracking disability four years ago, it found 2.4% of speaking characters had disabilities, staying fairly consistent at 2.7% in 2016 and 2.5% in 2017. In each of those years, at least one film (two in 2015 and 2017) had proportional representation of characters with disabilities, compared to the US Census information. None of the films evaluated from 2018 featured proportional representation of characters with disabilities when compared to the US population.

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“With more than a quarter of the US population identifying as having a disability, these numbers are dismal,” Appelbaum added. “In fact, the difference between the percentage of speaking characters with disabilities and reality in the US population is the largest difference in the inclusion crisis in film, at 25.6 (27.2% of US population versus 1.6% of speaking characters).”

More than half of the films (58) evaluated in 2018 did not include a single character (even non-speaking role) with a disability, a four-year high. Furthermore, 83 films had no female characters with a disability. This is an increase from 2017 but on par with 2015.

“You’re basically seeing the erasure of whole communities,” said Marc Choueiti, program director at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and one of the study’s authors.

“Entertainment contributes to our values and ideals,” RespectAbility’s president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi added. “With just 1.6% of speaking characters having disabilities in film, compared to 25% of American adults having a disability, we will continue to work with entertainment leaders to promote positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals on TV and in film. Disability impacts every gender, race, age and sexual orientation. We want the film industry to understand that accurate, authentic and diverse portrayals of disability benefit everyone.”

Disability Affects All

Despite the fact that people of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, etc., have disabilities, the films evaluated in this study do not show it.

Nearly three-quarters of the characters with disabilities were male (72.5%) and 27.5% were female. Most characters with disabilities were white (63.1%), while 36.9% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Just two characters with disabilities were LGB.

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One statistic represents improvement, however. The percentage of underrepresented characters with disabilities increased 9.9% points compared to 2017. A corresponding decrease in white characters occurred. However, the numbers leave a lot of room for additional improvement.

“Once again, the predominant picture of characters with disabilities is one of a straight, white, male,” the study reports. “These results have remained consistent across the four years of films examined, which means that for nearly half of a decade, audiences have seen persistent under and misrepresentation of individuals with disabilities in top movies.”

Disabilities Represented

A total of nine films had a lead or co-lead character with a disability. These individuals experienced depression, dyslexia, disfigurement, blindness, heart conditions, HIV/AIDS or missing limbs. Five of these films centered on an underrepresented leading character with a disability, and one movie showcased the story of an LGBT leading character with a disability. In terms of ensemble casts, two films featured leading characters with disabilities, one male and one female, both of whom were white, and one was bisexual.

In terms of all characters with a speaking role, more than half of the characters (38) were shown to have a physical disability (55.1%), including mobility issues, amputation or severe disfigurement. Nearly one-third (30.4%) of characters have a cognitive disability, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. And 27.5% of characters were shown with a communicative disability, such as blindness or deafness. As a character could experience a disability in more than one domain, the percentages do not total to 100%.

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When looking behind the camera, there are no statistics for people with disabilities. Currently, no major production company tracks disability status for any of its employees, so the data does not yet exist.

Room for Improvement

While the statistics for characters with disabilities – as well as those who are LGBTQ – are lackluster, the overall numbers for women and people of color as leads increased in meaningful ways.

“The good news is companies are making more of an effort to be inclusive,” said Stacy L. Smith, director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and one of the study’s authors. “We’re seeing movement. Of course, we always want it to be faster, but all of the activism and advocacy appears to be yielding results.”

She added, “We’re seeing that studios are recognizing that all that mythologizing about who can lead a film or carry a film was just that — mythologizing.”

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In the Scene

UP Repertory Company to focus on LGBTQIA stories in opening of 47th production season

UP Repertory Company opens its 47th production season with DADA: The Chika Minutes¸ a performance of LGBTQIA stories.

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This November, the UP Repertory Company opens its 47th production season with DADA: The Chika Minutes¸ a performance of LGBTQIA stories. 

DADA: The Chika Minutes is a documentary theater performance of various narratives from the LGBTQIA community, exploring documentary merged with the company’s own art form, tula dula (a poem written in verse, acted out in mime). With 16 segments of a spectra of LGBTQIA narratives, DADA will be tackling the real life experiences of kids to OFWs to pageant queens to sex workers to community builders and activists. 

“In this period of intense hate crimes, controversies and fake news about SOGIE, we bring the stories of the LGBTQIA you might have missed,” UP Repertory Company stated. 

With the dramaturgy of Ligaya Sinfuego, additional choreography by Michelle Alde, and choreography and direction by Jasper Villasis and Malvin Ramos.

DADA: The Chika Minutes will be staged this coming November 28 and 29 (7pm) and November 30 (3pm and 7pm) in UP Diliman.

For details on tickets and show venue, contact Hillary Guevara at 0906 626 0900.

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