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Previously incarcerated trans women can be caught in cycle leading to repeat jail time

Seven percent of trans people are incarcerated during their lifetimes, compared with 2.7% of the general population. They also stay longer in prison.

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Cycle of violence.

Previously incarcerated trans women can find themselves caught in a cycle that leads to repeat jail time. This is the analysis drawn from Allegheny County by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers who – also, and fortunately – identified potential solutions that could lead to trans women being more successfully reintegrated into society.

Stephanie Creasy, M.P.H., project coordinator in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, said that trans people may now be more visible, but “visibility does not always mean equal rights or improved health and safety.”

Seven percent of trans people are incarcerated during their lifetimes, compared with 2.7% of the general population. They also stay longer in prison. For instance, in Pennsylvania in the US, 57% of trans people serve their maximum sentences, compared with 19% of the general population. Research has shown that transgender women experience higher rates of adverse childhood events, which have been associated with higher rates of incarceration.

Pink behind bars

“Trans women also experience significant discrimination in workplace and health care settings, which often leads to participation in a survival economy that leaves them more susceptible to arrest and incarceration,” said Creasy.

As part of her master’s thesis work at Pitt Public Health, Creasy performed a mixed-methods analysis that involved in-depth interviews with trans women living in Allegheny County (in the US) who had been previously incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, coupled with geospatial mapping of the county’s trans-inclusive resources, public transportation, probation offices and mental health services.

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Additional authors on this research are Mary E. Hawk, Dr.P.H., Mackey Reuel Friedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., Christina Mair, Ph.D., and James Erin Egan, Ph.D., M.P.H., all of Pitt Public Health, and Jennifer McNaboe, M.P.H., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The study participants were Allegheny County residents between 29 and 48 years old. Half were HIV-positive, and two-thirds were people of color. Half had been incarcerated more than once. All had been housed with men while incarcerated and all said they feared for their safety due to their trans identities. Some said they were physically and sexually abused and called “it” or “thing.”

Post-release, all participants said they experienced discrimination during job interviews, and stigma and harassment from employers and coworkers. They commonly said that transportation to work or probation meetings was difficult. They also had difficulty finding conveniently located health care providers for trans-specific needs and HIV care when necessary.

When Allegheny County probation offices, trans-inclusive health care providers and job services were mapped with bus lines and overlaid on a map detailing the areas of the county with higher rates of poverty (where trans people and previously incarcerated people are more likely to live), Creasy found that the resources didn’t align with the areas of need.

Creasy also asked the participants about experiences that they found helpful. Two-thirds of participants said that having social support, such as being with other trans women or gay men, gave them a sense of resilience while incarcerated. Participants who connected to social support via friends, family or community post-incarceration said they felt less likely to be re-incarcerated.

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The researchers, therefore, recommended: 1) connecting trans people who’ve been incarcerated with resources post-release in an effort to lower rates of recidivism; and 2) co-locating trans-inclusive resources – such as career services, health care that includes hormone therapy and HIV clinics – in places close to public transport is one recommendation.

Health & Wellness

Study suggests why some young adults may be more likely to engage in unsafe sex

A study found that heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies in condom negotiation (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for more verbal but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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Gender, sexual orientation, and the desire to form lasting romantic relationships appear to influence sexual risk-taking among young adults, according to a new research published in the Journal of Sex Research.

As far as the researchers are aware, this is the first study to directly compare how heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and men who have sex with men (MSM) differ in their approach to condom decision-making with a new sexual partner.

The findings may help explain why some young people engage in unsafe sex even though they are aware of the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, cervical cancer, and unplanned pregnancy.

To explore this aspect of risk, researchers studied how heterosexual men (157 participants), heterosexual women (177), and MSM (106) aged 18-25 years, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system (a crowdsourcing marketplace) and a university in Canada, make decisions about using condoms.

Participants were presented with a vignette describing an encounter with a hypothetical new sexual or romantic partner and were asked to rate their attitudes and likelihood of choosing particular courses of action, as well as their relationship motivation.

Results showed that all three groups had a preference for different condom negotiation strategies– heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for a balance, choosing more verbal strategies than heterosexual men, but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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The findings may also explain some of the motives and reasoning that influence risky behaviours. For example, the study suggests that heterosexual women may be more willing to take risks when they both have stronger relationship motivation and view their partner as having more relationship potential.

“Understanding what factors make it more difficult to recognize risk during a sexual encounter, such as the desire for a long-term romantic relationship and partner familiarity, can lead to better prevention”, says Dr. Shayna Skakoon-Sparling from the University of Guelph, Canada who led the research. “It is particularly striking that women had lower expectations that their partner would be interested in condom use–this highlights how challenging heterosexual women expect the negotiation of condom use to be.”

The authors conclude that the findings have important implications for policy and prevention and should inform the creation of more effective sexual health education programs and interventions.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect and the authors point to several limitations including that it did not involve women who have sex with women, or any other gender/sexuality minority groups, which could limit the generalisability of the findings. They also note that a hypothetical scenario may not invoke the same emotional response or reflect real-life behavior.

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Media shape public opinion about surrogacy and homosexuality

One issue that is beginning to arouse public debate about which most audiences do not have any direct experience is the matter of surrogacy on the part of homosexual couples.

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill from Unsplash.com

The media play a key role in informing society and at the same time an important role in shaping perceptions and judgements about social issues, particularly concerning issues on which there is insufficient knowledge and/or a lack of experience. And one issue that is beginning to arouse public debate about which most audiences do not have any direct experience is the matter of surrogacy on the part of homosexual couples.

This was the focus of a research that eyed to explore how public opinion on surrogacy and gay parenthood is shaped. Carried out by Rafael Ventura and Carles Roca-Cuberes, researchers with the Department of Communication at UPF, together with Xosé Ramón Rodríguez-Polo, a researcher at Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid University, this was published in Journal of Homosexuality.

In Spain for instance, according to the barometer of the Sociological Research Centre, 86.8% of the population claims to get its news via the television. Although in principle television news programs aim to produce the most objective content possible, it is also true that they construct discourses about reality that may promote certain behaviors and attitudes by their audiences.

“In our study, we focus on the formation of attitudes about surrogacy and gay parenthood analyzing the audience’s interpretation of a news item broadcast on Spanish television,” said Rafael Ventura, first author of the paper.

To test this, the authors set up four discussion groups consisting of 6 to 10 people each, two adults (40- 60 years) and two younger people (20-30 years), a total of 17 women and 16 men, from Barcelona and Madrid. They then analyzed each person’s interpretation of a television news item broadcast in Spain to perform a qualitative content analysis of the discourse produced by the participants.

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The researchers based themselves on three main issues: the values transmitted by the media about surrogacy; what relationship they attributed to surrogacy and gay parenthood, and finally, if the interpretation of a news item differed according to the age of the audience.

To study the formation of participants’ attitudes, the researchers used a Spanish news item about surrogacy that included all of these key issues. The selected item was broadcast at prime time on TV1, the news program with the largest audience in Spain.

The news item dealt with the fact that surrogacy is illegal in Spain and, therefore, there are increasing numbers of Spanish couples, including homosexual couples, traveling to other countries, such as India, to have a child. The story was illustrated with a real case and the argument revolved around the desire of homosexual couples to become parents and the consequences for the women involved.

Initially, the two groups of participants (adults and youths) stated that they had limited data and a lack of contextual information that prevented them from forming an opinion based on the evidence explained in the news. Nevertheless, both groups agreed in that they rejected surrogacy after watching the news programme, mainly due to the way the news had presented the Indian women: as victims of exploitation and in a situation of poverty. The authors found that as the debate progressed, there was greater rejection towards homosexuals due to the fact that they were taking advantage of the poverty of women in countries like India to achieve their goal of having a baby.

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The results show that the focus of the content of the news put to debate contributed to defending an attitude of the repudiation of surrogacy, with a feeling of aversion that also extended to gay couples wishing to become parents.

“As we saw in the results of our study, attributing responsibilities, placing the debate on surrogacy on the conflict of homosexual couples who want to become parents, on the one hand, and the feminist rejection of the commodification of the woman’s body, on the other, may have very negative consequences for the traditional link between the feminist movement and the LGBT community,” said the authors. “It may feed discriminatory attitudes towards gay couples and create a clash between the feminist and the LGBT causes, forcing the public to adopt a position in favor of one of the two sides, as it is interpreted as a controversy,” they add.

There is still no law specifically dealing with surrogacy in the Philippines, even if this has been entering the Filipino news cycle/awareness because of the involvement of well-to-do people, including Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez, as well as gay fragrance entrepreneur Joel Cruz.

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Those rejecting gay people ‘don’t have human heart’ – Pope Francis

Even if his LGBTQIA support continues to be spotty, Pope Francis said: “We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity… There are people that prefer to select or discard people, because of the adjective. These people don’t have a human heart.”

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Another rainbow-supporting message from the Vatican – at least on the surface.

“Giving more importance to the adjective (i.e. ‘gay’) than the noun — this is not good.”

This is what Pope Francis said when he met with gay British comedian Stephen K. Amos, one of eight celebrities who participated in BBC Two’s “Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome”, a docu-series about faith and spirituality.

Amos, who is grieving the loss of his mother and twin sister, told the Roman Catholic Church leader that he’s “looking for answers and faith, but as a gay man, I don’t feel accepted.”

Pope Francis responded that “We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity… There are people that prefer to select or discard people, because of the adjective. These people don’t have a human heart.”

The Roman Catholic Church has historically resisted strides in LGBTQIA liberation, but Pope Francis has – particularly on the surface – shown a more progressive view than his predecessors.

But his messages on LGBTQIA issues have been mixed.

In 2013, for instance, he was widely quoted for saying: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

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But in 2018, he reportedly instructed bishops to keep gay men out of the priesthood. He also reportedly criticized trans-inclusive education, arguing instead that children be taught to “accept their own body as it was created”; and he objects to marriage equality.

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Like watching porn? You’re more likely to be bi, says study

Heterosexual people are more likely to watch porn once a week or several times a week, but bi people are more than twice as likely to watch porn several times a day than once a week.

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People who watch more porn on a regular basis are more likely to be bisexual, according to a new survey that also noted that LGBTQIA people – in general – are also more likely to watch porn daily.

Porn site xHamster discovered these correlations based on a survey of over 11,000 users who answered questions about their porn watching habits and identity, among others.

Majority (67.7%) of xHamster users identify as heterosexual, with bisexuals the second largest group (22.3%).

Acknowledging that the site has primarily heterosexual content, xHamster noted that watching porn “opens up users to the idea of a more fluid sexuality”.

Overall, the survey found bi people are more likely to watch porn several times a day – i.e. Heterosexual people are more likely to watch porn once a week or several times a week, but bi people are more than twice as likely to watch porn several times a day than once a week.

Note that bi people are in the same league with gay men and lesbians, who watch porn more frequently than their straight peers. While most users (a majority of each group) watch weekly, bi people and gay men and lesbians watch daily more than straight users.

When xHamster isolated the data collated by gender, it found that 38% of women in the survey identified as bisexual, and this may be skewing the data.

But when the data was narrowed down to just bi men, it was found that 10.8% watched once a week and 27.2% watched multiple times a day.

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Majority of the respondents also consider porn as a healthy sexual outlet, with bi people the most likely to agree with this (85%).

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Mormon church drops anti-LGBT policy from 2015; children of same-sex couples can now be baptized

A 2015 church rule stipulated that church members in same-sex marriages were apostates and subject to excommunication, and that children of same-sex couples were banned from rituals like baptisms and baby-naming ceremonies.

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Gilbert Arizona Temple in Gilbert, United States. Photo by Joe Cook from Unsplash.com

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nee Mormon church) announced that it would allow children of same-sex couples to be baptized.

This is a reversal of church policy from one of the more prominent anti-LGBTQIA religious groups. A 2015 church rule stipulated that church members in same-sex marriages were apostates and subject to excommunication, and that children of same-sex couples were banned from rituals like baptisms and baby-naming ceremonies.

But the decision, which was delivered by President Dallin H. Oaks, did not end the church’s teaching that acting on same-sex attraction is sinful.

“While we cannot change the Lord’s doctrine, we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality,” the First Presidency, the church’s highest governing body, said in a statement. “We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today.

It is worth noting that the church still considers same-sex marriage “to be a serious transgression,” the statement added, but “it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline.”

It added that instead, “the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.”

The 2015 policy allowed children of same-sex couples to join the church only after they reached the age of 18 and moved out of their parents’ homes, technically abandoning their families. They also had to disavow same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s leadership.

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Gay, lesbian, bi people more likely to perpetrate or become victims of ‘revenge porn’

The rainbow community is tarnished, with gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents more than twice as likely to admit to taking and threatening to distribute sexual images of another person without their consent. They were also 2.5 times more likely to actually distribute them.

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Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are more likely to perpetrate or become victims of “revenge porn” and other forms of abuse involving sexual photos or videos.

This is according to a study done by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and first reported by Perth Now.

The researchers polled more than 4,200 people aged 16 to 49, asking them if they’d secretly taken photos or videos of someone, distributed the images, or threatened to do so. Eleven percent (11%) admitted to engaging in some form of image-based sexual abuse over their lifetime.

Behaviors included here are: receiving a consensually-shared nude or sexual selfie and sending it onto others without the subject’s consent; covertly filming or photographing someone without their knowledge; and threatening to share or sharing explicit images of another person — including past sexual partners — in an attempt to embarrass or humiliate others.

Another 9% of the respondents said that they had taken nude or sexual photos or videos of someone without their consent, and 6% admitted to distributing such images. This includes instances where people covertly filmed up women’s skirts or down their blouses.

Interestingly, self-identified victims of these abuses were also more likely to be abusers. And these abusers were also more likely to share images of people they knew, including partners, ex-partners, friends and even relatives, rather than images of strangers.

Men were twice as likely as women to admit to perpetrating revenge porn.

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The rainbow community is tarnished, with gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents more than twice as likely to admit to taking and threatening to distribute sexual images of another person without their consent. They were also 2.5 times more likely to actually distribute them.

Additionally, gay and bisexual men were more likely to engage in such behavior than lesbian or bisexual women.

Governments all over the world are actually already developing/implementing laws pertaining “revenge porn:, even if the success of cases still largely depend on the willingness of victims to go after the perpetrators.

In the Philippines, for instance, there is an existing Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 (Republic Act 9995) that eyes to prevent the publication, copying and distribution of similar materials that would damage the honor of a person on media platforms.

However, violations to this law continue to increase. Data from the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Cybercrime division show that in the first three months of 2019 alone, there were already 142 reported cases of violations of RA 9995, a figure surpassing the total 94 cases filed in all of 2018.

For its part, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) recorded 106 cases in the first two months of the year: 49 in January and 57 in February.

Members of the local LGBTQIA community also make the news for this, including – and more recently – the Vic Fabe scandal.

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