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OutrageMag.com launches ‘More than a Number’

Outrage Magazine launches “More than a Number” as an attempt to tell the stories of those whose lives have been touched by HIV and AIDS, in order to give the social issue a human face.

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In a move eyed to give a human face to those infected and affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the Philippines, Outrage Magazine has launched “More than a Number”, an attempt to tell the stories of those whose lives have been touched by HIV and AIDS.

In narratives reaching the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines, HIV-positive Filipinos (in particular) feel “somewhat disempowered because of the loss of their identity, of their individuality as soon as they test positive, and then included in the treatment, care and support responses to them,” noted Michael David dela Cruz Tan, Outrage Magazine’s publishing editor. “This is largely because – as mentioned by some HIV-positive Filipinos – people simply become the codes, the numbers allocated them.” In a society “insisting that everyone is supposedly special, unique, et cetera, this is not exactly empowering – to be dubbed as ‘just one of the over 11,000 cases in the Philippines’, considering that every one of these Filipinos who tested HIV positive has (personal) story/ies to tell.”

With “More than a Number”, Outrage Magazine is looking at telling the stories of Filipinos living with HIV (those with, as well as those affected), to highlight that “yes, every individual story counts, and we want to hear and share these stories,” Tan said. “Because while the numbers tell us the extent of the effect of HIV in the country, the same numbers do not tell the full story.”

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The stories from “More than a Number” will be published in Outrage Magazine’s POZ section. Cognizant of the mandate of the law (RA 8504) to uphold the privacy of those who are HIV-positive, these stories may be told openly (with people living with HIV coming out as such) or anonymously.

More information about (or – for that matter – to be included in) “More than a Number”, email editor@outragemag.com, or call (+63) 9287854244 and (+63) 9157972229.

NEWSMAKERS

Trans people ‘annihilate the concept of nature’, says Vatican

A Vatican position paper notes that the transgender experience is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”.

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The Vatican issued a statement rejecting transgender people, saying they “annihilate…the concept of nature”.

The position paper, titled ‘Male And Female He Created Them’ – issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican office responsible for overseeing education – notes that the transgender experience is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”.

The document was issued for “all who have a special interest in education, and to those whose work is touched by the question of gender theory.”

Ironically, the Vatican document wants to appear pro-LGBTQIA, stating that a “position held in common is the need to educate children and young people to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination based on their specific characteristics (such as special needs, race, religion, sexual tendencies, etc.).”

But the anti-LGBTQIA stance is apparent.

The document is critical of gender theory, by and large, stating: “ Gender theory (especially in its most radical forms) speaks of a gradual process of denaturalization, that is a move away from nature and towards an absolute option for the decision of the feelings of the human subject. In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual, as opposed to anything based on the truths of existence”.

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The 31-page document – signed by Italians Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi and Archbishop Angelo Zani, with Pope Francis not signing – also calls on doctors to “intervene” on intersex patients, even when parents do not agree.

It states: “In cases where a person’s sex is not clearly defined, it is medical professionals who can make a therapeutic intervention. In such situations, parents cannot make an arbitrary choice on the issue, let alone society. Instead, medical science should act with purely therapeutic ends, and intervene in the least invasive fashion, on the basis of objective parameters and with a view to establishing the person’s constitutive identity.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Transgender youth faced with tough decision to freeze sperm or eggs

Fertility preservation only recently became an elective option for transgender youth. It can be difficult and ethically complex to approach the topic with adolescents.

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The last thing on most teens’ minds is whether or not they want to have kids someday. But transitioning transgender adolescents are forced to consider whether to preserve their sperm or eggs at a young age.

Whether or not they pursue fertility preservation is influenced by certain key factors, such as their family values, gender dysphoria, the cost of the procedure or not feeling ready to make such an important, lifelong decision at their age, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The findings shed light on how difficult this choice can be for such young adults (aged 15 to 24), and highlight the need to establish standardized protocols for primary care doctors when counseling transgender patients as they consider sex reassignment.

“As a child psychologist, I’m usually talking to adolescent patients about contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, not, ‘Down the line, do you want to be a parent? And if so, how important to you is a genetic connection to your child?’,” said first author Diane Chen, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatric psychologist at Lurie Children’s. “It can be difficult for kids who are transitioning in adolescence to have to be thinking about these things. It’s not developmentally typical.”

The study was published in the journal LGBT Health. It is the first study to use in-depth interviews rather than retrospective chart reviews to explore factors that impact fertility preservation decisions in transgender adolescents and young adults.

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Fertility preservation only recently became an elective option for transgender youth. It can be difficult and ethically complex to approach the topic with adolescents, which is why Chen was drawn to the research.

“Potentially compromised fertility should not be a reason to prevent transgender adolescents from transitioning with hormones, but we should be taking steps to train doctors on how to talk to transgender youth about options for fertility presentation and support them in making these decisions,” Chen said.

This can be particularly complicated because it is not until a person is in their mid-20s that their frontal lobe is fully developed, which has led some to question whether adolescents and young adults can fully understand the potential implications of their decisions.

Additionally, doctors should consider referring some patients to see a specialized fertility counselor for support, Chen said. But even specialists might need to revamp their protocols to include more information, which, as one study participant said, can be lacking.

“I do kind of regret not doing the fertility [preservation] thing,” said one 18-year-old study participant who had received fertility preservation counseling but did not pursue fertility preservation. “I felt like if I didn’t do my own research, and I didn’t know, hey, I can be on testosterone then get off, and then I can just like start taking ovulation medication … like imagine if I didn’t do my own research! I just wish they had told me, ‘hey, there is a way, even after you start testosterone to do [fertility preservation].'”

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The study identified the following four key factors that influence transitioning transgender youth when deciding whether to pursue fertility preservation:

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  1. Either knowing they wanted biological children or weren’t sure
  2. Family values such as a parent encouraging or pressuring them to consider fertility preservation
  3. The cost of the procedure and storage of their eggs or sperm
  4. Concern for worsening gender dysphoria by completing invasive fertility preservation or delaying testosterone or estrogen initiation

“In this population in particular, there are unique barriers to fertility preservation related to gender dysphoria,” Chen said. “If someone feels their reproductive organs don’t align with their gender identity, it could be distressing to pursue fertility preservation.”

A trans male who was assigned female at birth and wants to preserve his eggs, for instance, will need to go through a cycle of hormonal stimulation and egg retrieval similar to a woman pursuing in vitro fertilization due to infertility, which Chen said can be quite invasive.

Determining fertility options at a young age is not a new concept. For years, female pediatric cancer patients at Northwestern’s Oncofertility Consortium have received consultation about whether and how to preserve their eggs before undergoing their cancer treatment.

The transitioning transgender study involved 18 patients between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. See the attached table for a breakdown of their responses.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personality traits

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

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

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

Study timeline

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

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

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

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

Preventing aggression

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

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

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NEWSMAKERS

Global study of urban poor links childhood adversity to adolescent violence and depression

46% of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38% suffered emotional neglect and 29% experienced physical neglect. But boys were more likely to report physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence victimization. Also, for both boys and girls, the more adversity they experienced, the more likely they were to engage in violent behaviors, such as bullying, threatening or hitting someone.

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In poor urban areas around the world, exposure to adverse events as children–including physical and emotional neglect, violence, and sexual abuse–is strongly associated with both adolescent depression and violence perpetrated by young people, with the data suggesting that boys are suffering even more than girls. This is according to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence with terrible, life-long consequences,” said Dr. Robert Blum, lead researcher for the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) that is based in multiple countries across five continents. “And while we found young girls often suffer significantly, contrary to common belief, boys reported even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return.”

The study catalogued the ACEs suffered by 1,284 adolescents aged 10 to 14 in 14 “low-income urban settings” around the world. It found remarkably common experiences with trauma–and very similar impacts–regardless of where the children lived, which included Vietnam, China, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Kenya, UK and the US. The report is the first to include an assessment of how adversity impacts young children in multiple low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of the 1.8 billion 10- to 24-year-olds worldwide live–about a quarter of the global population.

Overall, the study found that 46% of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38% suffered emotional neglect and 29% experienced physical neglect. But boys stood out in several categories. They were more likely to report physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence victimization. Also, for both boys and girls, the more adversity they experienced, the more likely they were to engage in violent behaviors, such as bullying, threatening or hitting someone. But the effect of the adversity was more pronounced for boys than girls, with boys 11 times more likely to be engaged in violence, and girls four times more likely to be violent.

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Also, the study found that, in general, the cumulative effect of their traumas tended to produce higher levels of depressive symptoms among girls than boys, while boys tended to show more external aggression than girls.

Study Supports New Assessment from Global Coalition of Adolescent Health Experts

The study is part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, a major collaboration of the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to understand more about the development of gender stereotypes in early adolescence and their impact on adolescent health around the world. And it buttresses a key conclusion from a major new report to be released next week at Women Deliver in Vancouver based on a global coalition of adolescent health experts: that the world will never achieve gender equality “by focusing on girls and women alone and excluding boys and men.”

That report, from the Bellagio Working Group on Gender Equality, reflects the assessment of 22 experts from 15 countries. Their analysis, Achieving Gender Equality by 2030: Putting Adolescents at the Center, finds that boys have as equal a part to play as girls in achieving the fifth of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5), which seeks to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. The report notes that the current indicators for SDG5 ignore boys and men. But it warns that “we cannot achieve a gender equitable world by ignoring half of its occupants.”

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In a commentary summarizing the Bellagio report for the Journal of Adolescent Health, working group members from the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia and Great Britain point to the growing amount of data that refute a “prevailing myth that girls alone are disadvantaged by gender norms.” They note that evidence from the GEAS work shows that in the many settings around the world, “boys experience as much disadvantage as girls” and are “more likely to smoke, drink and suffer both unintentional and intentional injury and death in the second decade of life than their female counterparts.”

They conclude that the key to achieving gender equality by 2030 involves addressing conditions and stereotypes that are harmful to both girls and boys–and to intervene much earlier, in early adolescence, at least by age 10, rather than at age 15 which is now the norm. Early adolescence is critical, the Bellagio group asserts, because “gender norms, attitudes and beliefs appear to solidify by age 15 or 16.”

Their report calls a broader set of indicators for tracking progress on achieving SDG 5 that would include:

  • Tracking the percentage of both boys and girls who at the community level feel that they can ask for help when needed since there appears to be a strong relationship between voice and empowerment
  • Tracking the percentage of boys and girls who feel safe in their neighborhood, as safety and security is a critical factor in the healthy development of both boys and girls; for example, the new study on adverse childhood experiences found a third of children reported a persistent fear of physical harm
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Gender Equality Critical to Economic Growth in Africa, South Asia

The Bellagio Working Group also finds gender equality is a critical component of efforts in the developing world to achieve what economists call a “demographic dividend.” It refers to harnessing the vigor of a surging youth population to generate a period of sustained economic growth. A demographic dividend was a major factor behind in the rise of the economic “tigers” of East Asia and even in Ireland’s economic boom of the 1990s.

There is now hope for something similar to propel the economies of sub-Saharan Africa, home to the fastest growing–and youngest–population in the world. Youth populations also are ascendant in South Asia and across much of the Middle East.

The Bellagio Working Group concludes that if these regions want to experience a demographic dividend, they need to “address gender inequalities and rigid gender expectations that limit the future of many of the world’s young people.”

“We must actively engage girls and boys at the onset of adolescence to increase total social inclusion and produce generational change,” the report states.

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NEWSMAKERS

Project Headshot Clinic marks #Pride2019 with ‘Free Love 2019’

Digital platform Project Headshot Clinic is hosting “Free Love 2019” to produce “collaborative and artistic headshots that… highlight togetherness, diversity, acceptance, love and resistance to discrimination, violence and stigma,” said Niccolo Cosme.

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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Inn riot, largely credited to have helped in the development of the modern LGBTQIA movement, as well as the 25th pride parade in the Philippines, the first to do so in Asia, Project Headshot Clinic (HSC) is hosting “Free Love 2019” to produce “collaborative and artistic headshots that… highlight togetherness, diversity, acceptance, love and resistance to discrimination, violence and stigma.”

HSC is a digital platform that started in 2007, using the Internet as a tool for advocacy.

For this campaign, other people’s hands appear in one’s headshot. The approach, said Niccolo Cosme, does not guarantee that “people can deliver what we envision – we have to operate on blind trust… But this is what we love about this process. In uncertainty, there is that element of surprise. Adversity gives us a chance to rise to the occasion and meet it with creativity.”

Cosme added that “in reflection, the creative process of this campaign mirrors the spirit of pride and our struggle as an LGBTQIA community. We are a community of diverse individuals who have been united to confront the dangerous ideas that challenge us and threaten our lives and our rights. We may not know each other, there may have been some distrust in the community, we have questioned other people’s motives, we have questioned our own self-worth and the things that we bring to this rainbow-colored table. But we know that there is solidarity in diversity and we understand that in order to love freely, we have to band together to resist the barriers that others have placed in front of us, and struggles we have inadvertently placed upon ourselves.”

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For this year’s campaign, HSC is also embracing the supposed call to action to #ResistTogether “by showing the beauty that we can create as we meet the seeming insurmountable challenges that we have to face. To resist is to honor the history of pride as a protest against intolerance. To resist is to continue the fight for equal rights for all. To resist is to honor the history of pride as a protest against intolerance. To resist is to ensure access to healthcare regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. To resist is to condemn bullying and promote the mental wellbeing of members of our community. To resist is to love freely in the face of discrimination. To resist is to continue the fight for equal rights for all,” Cosme ended.

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NEWSMAKERS

Nearly 7 in 10 LGBT people report being sexually harassed at work

Around seven out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work and almost one in eight LGBT women reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work. But this is a hidden problem with two thirds of those who were harassed not reporting it.

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Sixty-eight percent (or nearly seven in 10) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work.

This is according to a study done by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the UK, where the following aspects of sexual harassment of LGBT workers were considered: unwelcome verbal sexual advances, unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, unwelcome questions/comments about sex life, comments of a sexual nature about one’s sexual orientation, comments of a sexual nature about one’s gender identity, hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a straight colleague in front of an LGBT person, hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a LGBT colleague, receiving unwanted messages or emails with material of a sexual nature, unwanted touching, and sexual assault or rape.

The study’s results painted a grim picture.

  • Around seven out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work (68%)
  • Almost one in eight LGBT women (12%) reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work
  • Hearing comments of a sexual nature about a LGBT colleague was the behavior most respondents reported, with just under half experiencing it (47%)
  • Many LGBT workers also reported hearing comments of a sexual nature about straight colleagues in front of them with over four in 10 being exposed to these behaviors (44%)
  • Over four in 10 (43%) LGBT workers reported hearing comments of a sexual nature about their sexual orientation, and three in 10 (30%) heard comments of a sexual nature about their gender identity
  • More than half (53%) of LGBT women had experienced unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, as had over four in 10 gay, bisexual and trans (GBT) men (44%)
  • Around one in six respondents (17%) reported receiving unwanted emails with materials of a sexual nature in them, and 16% had seen displays of pornographic photographs or drawings in the workplace
  • Around one in five bisexual men and women experienced sexual assault at work (20%) and
  • 22%, respectively) and one in 10 reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work (11% and 10%, respectively)
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LGBT women were significantly more likely to report all of these experiences than the men who responded to the survey. LGBT women are more than twice as likely to report unwanted touching (35% compared to 16% of men); almost twice as likely to report experiencing sexual assault (21% versus 12% of men).

A number of the respondents described a range of longer-term impacts caused by their experience of sexual harassment at work. Around one in six people (16%) reported a negative effect on their mental health, and a similar proportion (16%) left their job as a result of being sexually harassed.

The TUC recommends for changes to be made to workplace cultures, which may be pushed by laws/policies mandated by the government to force employers to “take preventative steps to stop sexual harassment happening.”

Also, “every employer must take a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination and harassment (and sexual harassment),” TUC stated.

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