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Trans-inclusive policies on college campuses improve the well-being of trans students

New report provides recommendations to institutions of higher education regarding the creation of trans-inclusive communities.

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report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that transgender-inclusive policies and support systems on college campuses provide transgender students a greater sense of belonging and more positive perceptions of the campus environment.

The report reviews previous research on the experiences of transgender students and presents new findings from interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with transgender students.

“The majority of transgender students arrive at college having endured harassment and bullying in secondary school, which research shows have a negative impact on their academic performance and mental health. This cycle may be compounded by further adverse treatment and institutional invisibility at college,” said author Abbie E. Goldberg, former visiting scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “However, through relatively small changes, faculty and administrators can make a world of difference in the lives of transgender young adults.”

The current research focused on the institutional structures and interpersonal interactions at colleges and universities that either enforce biases or serve as sources of support for transgender students. The report concludes with ten recommendations to institutions of higher education on how to create more transgender-inclusive campus communities.

Key recommendations include:

  • Colleges and universities should explicitly include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies.
  • College curricula should address gender identity and specifically transgender identities and experiences.
  • Students should be provided with education/training to enhance their understanding and acceptance of gender diversity.
  • Faculty/staff should be exposed to mandatory training on gender identity issues.
  • Students should be able to list their preferred name on campus records and alternatives to male/female should be provided.
  • All university literature and publications should use gender-inclusive language.
  • Gender-inclusive or single-stall restrooms should be readily available on campus.
  • Universities should provide trans-inclusive/trans-accommodating housing options.
  • Counseling and health services staff should receive training on trans-inclusive and trans-affirming practices and health insurance coverage should be inclusive of trans students.
  • Trans-specific spaces and/or groups should be created with sufficient resources to support programming and events.
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“A growing body of research indicates that gender, including gender identity, expression and gender norms, plays a key role in academic, health and economic outcomes,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges should engage students and faculty in conversations about gender and examine policies, including those related to information systems, through a comprehensive gender lens. This would have the potential to improve campus safety and promote academic success for all students.”

READ THE REPORT HERE.

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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Health & Wellness

Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, according to study

While people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in substance-linked sex, gay and bisexual men were more likely to have done so; homosexual men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

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Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This is according to new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey, which looked into global trends of substance-linked sex.

The findings, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, revealed that alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs most commonly combined with sex.

Respondents from the UK were the most likely to combine drugs with sex, compared with the US, other European countries, Australia and Canada.

“While using drugs in combination with and to specifically enhance the sexual experience tends to be associated with gay and bisexual men, we found that in our sample, men and women of all sexual orientations engaged in this behavior. However, differences between groups did emerge,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Will Lawn (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences). “Harm reduction messages relating to substance-linked sex in general should therefore not only be targeted towards gay and bisexual men, as they are relevant to all groups.”

As part of the Global Drug Survey, roughly 22,000 people responded to online questions about which drugs they used in combination with sex, in addition to questions about whether they used drugs to specifically enhance their sexual experience, and how these drugs affect the sexual experience.

Alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine were most commonly used, while GHB/GBL and MDMA were rated most favorably. For instance, MDMA increased ’emotionality/intimacy’ the most, while GHB/GBL increased ‘sexual desire’ the most.

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While people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in substance-linked sex, gay and bisexual men were more likely to have done so; homosexual men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

Alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine were most commonly used, while GHB/GBL and MDMA were rated most favorably.
Photo by Roberto Roman from Unsplash.com

Drugs typically considered as ‘chemsex’ drugs – methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL – were more commonly used by gay and bisexual men in combination with sex, which the researchers say highlights the continued need for certain targeted harm reduction messages.

As the survey respondents were self-selecting rather than a representative sample, the researchers say their estimates of prevalence will be substantially larger than the general population. However, relative differences between groups are expected to be reliable.

While country of residence was not asked specifically, currency was used as a proxy. This revealed that those from the UK were more likely to have combined all drugs, except for cannabis, with sex; this trend was particularly strong for mephedrone.

The researchers say that understanding how and why people use drugs is essential if we are to deliver harm reduction messages that are in touch with peoples’ lived experience.

“By engaging with your audience and accepting that drugs provide pleasure as well as harms, you can deliver harm reduction messages in a more trustworthy and nuanced manner,” said Lawn.

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Senior author Professor Adam Winstock, founder and director of the Global Drug Survey, added: “By appreciating how different drugs affect sex we can tailor our harm reduction messages. These pragmatic messages can save lives.”

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Health & Wellness

How easy is it to get on the Keto Diet train?

Our bodies know what’s going on when we are eating too much and thus, the digestive system begins to try and first hasten and then stabilize our metabolism. Eventually however, age will mean our bodies slow down whether we like it or not. You will put on more weight and easier, than when you were in your teenager years when you’re over 30.

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The majority of people don’t gain weight suddenly. It happens over a long extended period of time. Our bodies know what’s going on when we are eating too much and thus, the digestive system begins to try and first hasten and then stabilize our metabolism. Eventually however, age will mean our bodies slow down whether we like it or not. You will put on more weight and easier, than when you were in your teenager years when you’re over 30.

So how does this even happen? It’s the little things that eat away at your weight goals. The snacking between meals is definitely going to have an accumulative effect on our health. The bag of chips here and there will eventually pile up. Carbs are the thing you need to avoid or at least decrease in your overall diet. It’s not the butter on your toast that’s making you fat, it’s that plate of pasta or noodles that is doing the damage. The only modern solution when it comes to diets then is, the keto diet.

Do you want to know how you can jump aboard this train?

A leaner breakfast

For the most part the modern day breakfast is full of carbs. Take a look at your cereal box and for every 100 grams, check out the carbohydrates grams. It’s common for 100 grams of cereal to be made up of 40-50 grams of just carbs. That is a lot for just 100 grams and that should tell you what you’re up against. This normality of consuming so many carbs is astonishing in our culture. It should be the opposite whereby we focus on getting a leaner breakfast. If you’re unsure or are leaning towards not changing your breakfast habits, you’ll love this.

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Instead of a bowl of cheerios or granola, cook up 3 to 4 slices of bacon. Instead of a toast, cook yourself a French crepes omelette with chives, butter, tomatoes and some roast chicken. Rather than making yourself a bowl of oatmeal, make yourself a plate of smoked salmon and avocado. What’s not to like? What are you really missing out on if you didn’t have a big bowl of kellogs or weetabix this morning?

Not every meal is a hassle

Meals with carbs as the main part, are not as quick and easy to make as you might think. Pasta is by far the most popular dish when it comes to a carb-heavy meal. You might read on the back of a packet of rigatoni that it only takes 5 minutes to cook in boiling water, but how long will it take to bring the water up to a boil? In reality you’re looking at around 15 or 20 minutes to make a pasta dish with all the other ingredients. With a keto diet, you need only to begin cooking lean mean straight in a pan. Actually you don’t have to cook one meal out of your day. You can lower the risk of heart complications with KetoLogic which swaps one meal out for a KetoMeal that comes in the form of a milkshake. You’re not eating a meal that’s heavy in carbs but gives you some natural sugars, fats and proteins in one. This meal can be made in under a minute, so you have more time to get on with things in the day.

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No ditching the deserts

Contrary to almost every other diet out there, the keto diet doesn’t say you need to cut out deserts. In fact a cheesecake is quite within the normal boundaries of this diet. A lemon strawberry cheesecake is more than going to satisfy your cold sweet tooth. You can chop some fresh strawberries on top as well. Some whipped cream is also okay to have with it. Dairy ice cream is also allowed by this diet as really, you’re eating frozen fat and protein anyway. Butter chocolate tiffins are another great choice. The fat from the butter and the sugar from the chocolate is better than a slab of carbs such as a slice of cake. The only thing you need to take care of is though, is your calorie count. Don’t have a desert if it means you’re going to go over your limit.

The keto diet is incredibly inviting. You’re not missing out on anything. You get your fats and proteins from the bacon and eggs in the morning. You can take some salmon and salad with you to work. And still after dinner, enjoy a cheesecake or dairy ice cream. It’s little wonder that more people haven’t adopted this as their go-to diet.

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Health & Wellness

The benefits of sustained happiness

Maintaining a happy state of mind is not the easiest thing to do, but it does have some major benefits. We look at how happiness affects your body.

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The benefits of being happy…

For most people, happiness is an elusive state of being, a transitory experience that sneaks up on you on an idle Tuesday when you are drinking coffee and staring out the window. For a prejudiced community, or someone who is labelled as different, happiness can be even more fleeting.

The truth is that happiness is a skill that can be learned. Research has proven that levels of happiness can fluctuate depending on mental and physical input. Like any skill, it can be learned and perfected as long as you put in the time and effort to maintain a healthy mental state. The benefits of being happy are only now being researched and clinically proven. Here is how happiness can improve your quality of life.

STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM

The link between body and mind has long been discussed and debated on. Today, clinical experiments have proven that people exposed to the common cold are less likely to get sick if they are in positive emotional state. Researchers found that people who people who experienced longer periods of calmness, humility and happiness didn’t get sick and if they did, their recovery time was much shorter. They also found that if a person is depressed, moody or angry, their immune system was more vulnerable to attack.

Researchers found that people who people who experienced longer periods of calmness, humility and happiness didn’t get sick and if they did, their recovery time was much shorter.

BETTER HEART HEALTH

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It may sound clichéd, but happiness really is good for your heart, and that’s why having fun and playing at the mobile casinos Canada has to offer can actually keep you healthier! Multiple experiments have been done on heart health and happiness. The most significant research was done over a 10-year period where people were asked to rate their happiness levels every month while their blood pressure and cholesterol levels were tested. The data shows a direct correlation between a happy disposition and lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

IMPROVED PHYSICAL FUNCTION

While more research needs to be done in this area, some data shows that being happy can reduce the amount of pain you feel from inflammation or physical ailments. The feedback loop then kicks in allowing you to be more physically active which releases endorphins, which makes you feel happier and healthier. Just improving your outlook on life can change how you look on the outside.

LONGEVITY

Research into happiness and longevity is still on going but initial data shows that happier people tend to lead a more active and productive lifestyle, which in turn leads to a longer life.

The truth is that happiness is a skill that can be learned. Research has proven that levels of happiness can fluctuate depending on mental and physical input.

HOW TO KICK START YOUR HAPPINESS?

There are a few simple ways to boost your mood and get you on the path to sustained happiness.

  • Eat a healthier diet – Research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables improves your diet, your mood and your health.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. If you want to boost your mood, get a solid 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
  • Get out into nature – Studies have shown that being outside, in a park or in nature can boost your mood and your mental outlook. Just five minutes in nature can do more for your body than most prescription drugs.
  • Get active – Daily physical activity is the key. Do something physical every day and you body will thank you for it. Not only will you be physically stronger, you will also feel happier and more alive.
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Health & Wellness

Bias may affect providers’ knowledge of trans health

According to a study, increased hours of education related to caring for transgender patients may not correlate to more competent care.

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As it is, transgender people already face many barriers in accessing health care, from dealing with issues with intake forms that use non-inclusive language, to challenges finding providers who are knowledgeable about transgender-specific health issues.

But a Michigan Medicine-led study is suggesting that more training may not be the answer to improving competent care, since this study found that more hours of education in the field was not associated with improved knowledge of transgender care among physicians and other providers.

Published in the journal Medical Education, the study found that nearly half of providers said they had cared for a transgender patient, but as many had received no training on the topic. What distinguished knowledgeable providers from those who were less so, however, appeared to have little to do with their medical education.

Transphobia, or a prejudice against people who are transgender, was the only predictor of provider knowledge.

“We were surprised to find that more hours of education about transgender health didn’t correlate with a higher level of knowledge about this topic among providers,” said lead author Daphna Stroumsa, M.D., MPH, an obstetrician gynecologist at University of Michigan’s Von Voigtlander Woman’s Hospital and a National Clinician Scholar at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

“Transgender and gender diverse individuals often face discrimination in health care settings and many are unable to find competent, knowledgeable and culturally-appropriate health care,” Stroumsa added. “Lack of provider knowledge is a significant barrier, but our findings suggest that simply increasing training may not be the solution.

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Because of this, “medical education may need to address transphobia and implicit bias in order to improve the quality of care transgender patients receive,” Stroumsa said.

Researchers surveyed 389 attending physicians, advanced practitioners and residents from the departments of internal medicine, family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology in a large urban health system.

It is worth noting that the study did not evaluate the content or format of the education providers were exposed to; but it is still likely that educational efforts that address unconscious bias would be more effective. Stroumsa noted that even in educational programs that address transgender health, the topic is usually presented as a separate section of provider education, rather than as an integral part of general medical education and training – a distinction which may further fuel “othering” of transgender patients.

Many providers – especially those traditionally considered “women’s health” professionals – likely need to be better prepared to care for transgender patients, Stroumsa said.

People who identify as transgender and non-binary may require many of the services provided by Ob/Gyns and other “women’s healthcare” providers, including prenatal and fertility care, cervical cancer screening, menstrual cycle management, as well as gender transition-related care (i.e. hormone therapy), and other routine Ob-Gyn care.

“We obviously have a lot of work to do in improving health outcomes for gender diverse people,” Stroumsa said. “We need to take a close look at our healthcare environments, practices and approaches to medical education. These are just beginning steps in reducing wide health disparities. Creating a safe, knowledgeable, trustworthy care environment will help us expand the care we provide to a broader more diverse patient population.”

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Health & Wellness

The amazing health benefits of using a gaming chair

When you are a frequent gamer, your playing experience shifts from one of seeking comfort to one of demanding comfort. With the long hours that you will spend in front of a screen playing different games, you will feel the pressure mount on your back.

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Gaming has come a long way thanks to the advancements in technology. The population of gamers on the internet today is a lot higher than it has been in previous years. That said, there is quite the technology to support every aspect of gaming, be it diverse games, gaming accessories and peripherals, gaming chairs and tables, to mention a few.

Talking of gaming chairs, could it be that they had more benefits than meet the eye? Here are the fantastic health benefits of using a gaming chair.

Figure 1: GAMING CHAIRS

ADEQUATE NECK SUPPORT

The thing with gaming chairs is that they are made to support a lot more than your rear region, much as a sitting surface is for the comfort of your lower part of the body, you need equal support for the top part. Since gaming chairs have a high-back, your neck gets adequate support. This way, you do not need to worry about getting neck cramps from straining your neck too much.

REDUCE BACK PAIN

When you are a frequent gamer, your playing experience shifts from one of seeking comfort to one of demanding comfort. With the long hours that you will spend in front of a screen playing different games, you will feel the pressure mount on your back. Most people fail to realize that when sited on any surface, a lot of pressure is directed in the rear region, but also on the back.

If you do not get a quality gaming chair like the omega gaming chair, then you may suffer a lot of back pain. A gaming chair will align your back and spinal column in the most comfortable and natural curve position, allowing your weight to balance out evenly across your body. This way, you do not pleasure in gaming at the expense of your back. Remember that your priority is in protecting your spinal column from any harm whatsoever.

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Figure 2: RECLINING CHAIR

BETTER SITTING POSTURE

Posture happens to be a crucial health concern that most people take for granted. Not just in the gaming world, but in other scopes of life, a good sitting posture at all times has an added health advantage. Ideally, the regular chairs, or worse, sitting on the floor when gaming, does not allow for a proper sitting posture. The body will always try to adjust to a position of utmost comfort, even when it means compromising the sitting posture. That said, you will need a gaming chair to help with the posture. Since most gaming chairs are ergonomic, they are customized to adopt a better sitting posture than traditional chairs.

The best bit is that the gaming chairs have a reclining function that allows you to fashion a sitting posture that best suits the angle you want to sit while playing, not to mention, protects your spinal alignment.

FATIGUE PREVENTION

Fatigue in the body is a factor that can not only cause your body to strain but accounts for the stress levels in your body. As a gamer, you may not have the privilege of enjoying social interaction and activities to help with coping with fatigue. Form the different sitting positions, slouching and postures you take up as your play; there is a high likelihood that your body will end up being fatally fatigued. Technically, the crucial body parts like the lower back, neck, shoulders, and even feet, require proper support.

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Without a gaming chair, most of your sitting positions will result in weakly feelings after extensive gaming. With time, muscles in some of your crucial body areas become weak, until you are too fatigued to play effectively and make your moves.

BETTER BLOOD FLOW

Another critical concern is that of proper blood circulation in the body at all times. Most of the health practices people take up, including drinking a lot of water, walking and stretching the body every once in a while, eating proper foods, among others, are all in support of better blood flow in your body.

When playing video games, a lot of time is spent sitting around, without much movement of the body. This means that the body may not enjoy a proper blood flow, especially in parts of the body like the feet, and the head. That said, with a regular chair, you will be exposing your body to the risk of reduction in lower body circulation.  To avoid such issues as dizziness, shortness of breath, among others, you must consider a gaming chair to ease the flow of blood throughout your system. The bottom and sides of a gaming chair are usually made in a way to keep the body in the correct posture that facilitates pumping of the blood to all parts of the body, even the legs.

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