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Women’s coalitions launch 18 Days of Activism against Violence

Observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW), which marks the start of the 18 Days of Activism Against VAW, women’s groups united to call for justice for Jennifer Laude during this 18-day campaign period that starts on November 25, and will sustain the campaign until justice is served.

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JusticeforJennifer

To observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW), which marks the start of the 18 Days of Activism Against VAW, women’s groups united to focus on the call for justice for Jennifer Laude during this 18-day campaign period that started on November 25, and will sustain the campaign until justice is served.

“We are all Jennifer!” said Jean Enriquez of the World March of Women, in behalf of the other women’s groups and supporting social movements. “The commodification, the objectification, the hate crime, the murder of Laude are illustrative of the continuum of violence against women suffered by many women, including trans women.”

Enriquez explained how various forms of violence against women, including sexual harassment, physical and economic abuse, rape and others, share the same roots – that of gender inequality, that of keeping women in a subordinated status in society, and are interrelated, sometimes recurring in a woman’s life.

“Jennifer Laude was killed because of her sexual orientation and gender identity – because she is a trans woman,” said Jelen Paclarin, a leader of the Philwomen on ASEAN. Paclarin added that the groups demand the Philippine government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), to exhaust all legal measures to ensure that Jennifer’s perpetrator will be punished under Philippine law.

Groups of transgender women highlighted the continuing spate of hate crimes against transwomen, such as the killing of two others in Quezon province, weeks after Laude was killed on October 11.

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Naomi Fontanos, executive director of GANDA Filipinas, stated that “as long as patriarchal beliefs and attitudes, sexism and machismo exist, there will be more Jennifer Laudes.” She stressed the need to expand anti-violence interventions to address those directed towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos.

Scrap VFA Coalition’s Proleta Nunez underscored that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has to go, along with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US. “The EDCA, like the military bases agreement, will likely be committing violence against women once it becomes operational,” said Nunez.

The women leaders vowed to be vigilant, especially during the Christmas season, as they remembered how US soldier Daniel Smith, then convicted with rape of a Filipina by a lower court, was transferred to US custody a few days before New Year. In the next 16 days, activities to increase awareness on the Jennifer Laude case, on sexual violence, hate crimes and US militarism, will be held. Among these are:

December 5 – Conversations with LGBT groups
December 6 – Metro Manila Pride March
December 8 – Scrap VFA Forum, UP Institute of Human Rights
December 9 – Premiere of Pink Documentary, Trinoma
December 10 – Human Rights Day Rally
December 12 – Trans Film Showing as part of Pink Fest, Trinoma
December 13 – QC LGBT Pride March.

Involved groups included: Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP), Bagong Kamalayan, Buklod, Buklod ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan, CATW-AP, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Development Action for Women Network, Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, KAISA-KA, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, LILAK (Purple Action for Women’s Rights), Partido ng Manggagawa, Piglas Kababaihan, Philwomen on ASEAN, PKKK, RENEW, SARILAYA, SCRAP VFA, WomanHealth Phils., Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Women’s Crisis Center, World March of Women – Pilipinas, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), SENTRO, and Women’s Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organization (WEDPRO).

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Mental health talk series on women, LGBTQ+ slated starting Aug. 23

SPARK! Philippines is organizing a three-part mental health talk series called SPARK! Conversations, to be held on August 23, September 6 and 27 at Commune Cafe + Bar, Makati City.

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Photo by Camila Quintero Franco from Unsplash.com

SPARK! Philippines is organizing a three-part mental health talk series called SPARK! Conversations, to be held on August 23, September 6 and 27 at Commune Cafe + Bar, Makati City.

The mental health talk series is specifically targeted towards women and members of the LGBTQ+ community who have suffered from mental health issues due to social factors such as gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. With the passage of the Philippine Mental Health Law, this mental health talk series aims to promote efforts to improve the awareness and encourage discussions on mental health in the Philippines, especially on women and the LGBTQ+ community.

The three-part series of SPARK! Conversations Mental Health Talk Series will focus on the topics of:

  • Single working mothers and the structural disadvantages they tend to experience, such as financial insecurity and lack of social support
  • Supporting the supporter, the struggles that the support system of people who have mental health disorders go through especially in balancing what they can offer to others while also looking after their own needs
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community and the mental health challenges that they face due to discrimination, societal pressures and stigma that they come across every day

The series is held in partnership with Vanguard Assessments and the Austrian Embassy Manila with the support of J. Amado Araneta Foundation and Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment.

For more information, contact Kassandra Barnes at ktbarnes@sparkphilippines or 09177287961.

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Catriona Gray bats for anti-discrimination law that actually works

Catriona Gray reiterated her support for members of the LGBTQIA community, with an Instagram post that pushed not only for an anti-discrimination law, but one that actually works/is properly implemented.

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Screencap of Catriona's Gray's IG post

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray reiterated her support for members of the LGBTQIA community, with an Instagram post that pushed not only for an anti-discrimination law, but one that actually works/is properly implemented.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1JxnVEg0A0/

On Tuesday, a transgender woman was prohibited from using the female toilet in Farmer’s Plaza in Cubao, Quezon City. But the trans woman was eventually also handcuffed, and then detained.

For Gray, this “only highlights further… the Philippines’ need for implementation of the #SOGIEEqualityBill.”

Gray added: “LGBTQ+ rights are HUMAN rights – mga karapatang pangkaligtasan at kalayaan mula sa diskriminasyon, karahasan at pagmamalupit batay sa pagkakakilanlan.

But because the unfortunate incident happened in a city with an existing anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that supposedly legally prohibits discriminatory acts to be committed against members of the LGBTQIA community, Gray noted that “ibig sabihin, walang saysay ang isang bill na hindi maipatupad sa isang komunidad.

Gray mentioned two recommendations that for her ought to also be considered with the development of any anti-discrimination policy.

First, “‘accessible forms of information for the public such as educational drives, programs and awareness campaigns’; para mas maintindihan natin ang mga pangangailangan ng LGBTQ+ community at para malaman natin ang mga bagay na maaari pa nating magawa bilang mga kaalyado o mga taong may awa sa kapwa.

And second, “a SOGIE workplace policy; para sa lahat ng mga pampublikong tagapaglingkod at mga taong may impluwensiya sa komunidad.”

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Gusto ko ring pagtuunan natin ng pansin ang katotohanang wala dapat makaranas ng anumang uri ng pagpapahiya at pang-aabuso (emotional, physical o sexual), LGBTQ+ man o hindi,” Gray said.

She added that “the whole argument of shifting the blame to the victim for reasons of being trans to justify abuse – is still victim blaming and IS NOT RIGHT. The blame should be on the perpetrators who should be held accountable and corrective actions should be taken… to help prevent future similar incidents from happening. Ang LGBTQ + ay nakikipaglaban para sa kanilang mga karapatan – ang karapatan sa kaligtasan, proteksyon at pagkakapantay-pantay – ay laban din natin.”

Gray has been vocal about her support for the LGBTQIA community in the past. Let June, for instance, she stated that “religion is never an excuse to hate, put down or act indifferent to the suffering of others. I believe God is love, and I will treat everyone – no matter who they are, to best of my ability, with love.”

Despite her outspokenness, however, it is worth noting that when Gray posted about LGBTQIA people in June, it was because of her endorsement of @sanmiglightph (San Miguel Light), an alcoholic drink. Though still not widely discussed particularly in the Philippines, members of the LGBTQIA community are at higher risk for alcoholism (and polysubstance abuse, in general).

Also, last July, Gray backed Manny Pacquiao during his fight against Keith Thurman. The boxer cum senator is infamous for referring to gay people as “mas masahol pa sa hayop (worse than animals).”

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Trans woman handcuffed, detained for using female toilet

Use of toilet befitting their gender identity continues to be a big issue for members of the trans community. If a trans woman uses the male toilet, for instance, she may be harassed/molested; and if she uses the female toilet, apparently she could also be jailed.

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Screencap of a photo provided to the media by the group of Gretchen Custodio Diez

A trans woman, Gretchen Custodio Diez, was handcuffed and then detained late Tuesday after she used the female toilet of a mall in Cuba, Quezon City.

It is worth noting that Quezon City is supposed to be a “Gender Fair City”, with its own anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that eyes to prevent discrimination of members of the LGBTQIA community.

Use of toilet befitting their gender identity continues to be a big issue for members of the trans community. If a trans woman uses the male toilet, for instance, she may be harassed/molested; and if a trans woman uses the female toilet, something like this could happen.

In an Instagram post, singer/songwriter and former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairperson Ice Seguerra said that being barred from using a comfort room is one of his biggest fears.

In his post, Sueguerra said: “Honestly, this is one of my biggest fears whenever I’m out. Lalo na pag nasa Arabic countries ako. Pag sa pambabaeng banyo, ilang beses na akong pinalabas. And kung sa panlalaki naman, ang daming tanong, lalo na kung may mga Pinoy.

To avoid an incident like this from happening, Seguerra said that “kapag may ASEAN events akong dinadaluhan nung nagtatrabaho ako sa NYC, hindi ako umiinom ng tubig buong araw kasi natatakot ako mag-banyo. This is a real concern. Na hanggat hindi mo pa narararnasan, isasawalang bahala mo lang. Concern na hindi ko kailanman inisip na pagdadaanan ko rin pala.

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Seguerra also noted that many people may think this is a superficial issue, but “hindi mababaw yung pagtititnginan ka ng mga tao lalo na yung papalabasin ka. Parang kinakain ako ng lupa sa tuwing nangyayari yun and what’s worse is I don’t feel safe. All of these feelings and more, AND NOW THIS… just because gusto lang namin magbanyo.”

In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte stated:

Nakatutok ako sa kaso ni Gretchen Custodio Diez, isang transwoman, na umano’y sapilitang pinalabas sa isang comfort room para sa mga babae ng Farmers Plaza at dinala sa QC Police District 7.

“We condemn this kind of discrimination towards members of the LGBT+ community. Ang Quezon City ay ang unang lungsod na may Gender Fair Ordinance upang protektahan ang karapatan ng mga miyembro ng LGBT+. Sa batas na ito, ipinagbabawal ng lungsod ang lahat ng uri ng diskriminasyon, at binibigyan ng proteksyon at paggalang ang dignidad at karapatang-pantao ng lahat, lalung-lalo na ang LGBT+.

Malinaw na hindi sumusunod ang Farmers Mall sa nasabing ordinansa kung saan lahat ng government offices, private, at commercial establishments ay dapat magtalaga ng ‘All-Gender Toilets’ para sa lahat (Section 5: Affirmative Acts, 1 Affirmative Acts in Employment, Part D).

Ipinag-utos ko sa Business Permit and Licensing Department (BPLD) na siguraduhin na susunod, sa lalong madaling panahon, ang lahat ng business establishments sa ating Gender Fair Ordinance.

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“We assure the members of the LGBT+ community that Quezon City will always protect their rights and be a home for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. We do not support any kind of violence and discrimination in our city. Sa ating LGBT+ community, protektado ang karapatan ninyo sa QC.”

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The legal team of Diez is still considering what steps to take, considering that the mall ended up as the complainant against her even if she did not violate anything.

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Support needed for foster carers of LGBTQ young people

Carers reported particular dilemmas in supporting young people in care to feel confident in expressing their LGBTQ identities while simultaneously protecting them and helping them to protect themselves from bullying.

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More support is needed for fosters carers looking after LGBTQ young people.

This is according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The study, titled ‘Providing a secure base for LGBTQ young people in foster care: the role of foster carers’, was written Gillian Schofield, Jeanette Cossar, Emma Ward, Birgit Larsson and Pippa Belderson, is published in Child and Family Social Work.

The first ever study of LGBTQ young people in care in England found good examples of foster carers being available and sensitive, and offering acceptance and membership of their family. However, there was also evidence of foster carers struggling in some areas in relation to meeting the needs of LGBTQ young people, whether because of their lack of knowledge, skills and support or because of ambivalence, discomfort or, in a few cases, homophobia or transphobia among foster family members.

Although there were some positive descriptions of the support available from social workers, most carers felt alone with the question of how best to support LGBTQ young people. This lack of support also meant that negative attitudes and approaches could go unchallenged.

The research, conducted by UEA’s Centre for Research on Children and Families, focused on the nature of foster carers’ experiences and perspectives on caring for LGBTQ young people. It involved interviews with 26 carers, who described the importance of offering LGBTQ young people not only the nurturing relationships that all children in care need, but helping young people manage stigma and other challenges associated with minority sexual orientation and gender identity.

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The findings – published in the journal Child and Family Social Work as part of a special issue on fostering teenagers – are from a wider study of the experiences of LGBTQ young people in care, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and led by Dr Jeanette Cossar from UEA’s School of Social Work. This also included a survey of local authorities in England and interviews with 46 LGBTQ young people who were or had been in care.

Gillian Schofield, Professor of Child and Family Social Work at UEA and lead author of the foster carer paper, said the experiences and needs of LGBTQ young people in care had been overlooked in England, both in policy and research.

“LGBTQ young people in foster families are likely to have many of the same needs as other fostered adolescents, but they also face additional challenges,” said Prof Schofield. “Their emotional, psychological and social well-being depends on how they manage, and are supported in managing, both the difficult histories they share with other children in care and their minority sexual orientation and gender identities.

“Understanding caregiving roles and relationships for LGBTQ young people in care has important implications for recruiting, training, matching and supporting foster carers to care for LGBTQ young people effectively, to ensure their needs are met. Our work highlights one of the key areas in fostering that professionals supporting young people in foster care and training and supporting foster carers need to be better informed about.”

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For LGBTQ young people, trust in caregivers was often said by carers to have been damaged by previous adverse experiences that included abuse, neglect, separation and loss. For some this had been compounded by moves linked to rejection of their sexual orientation or trans identity by birth, foster or adoptive parents.

Carers described needing to be sensitive to the difficult choices facing young people about how open they wanted to be about sexuality or gender, especially when they were anxious about being rejected or moved. They reported particular dilemmas in supporting young people in care to feel confident in expressing their LGBTQ identities while simultaneously protecting them and helping them to protect themselves from bullying.

Carers talked with pride of the way in which young people treated them as parents, and often recognised the additional element of security that accepting young people’s LGBTQ identity contributed to a sense of family belonging. Where foster carers had helped LGBTQ young people to feel fully accepted as family members, this gave them greater confidence in other areas of their lives. However, it was also important for foster carers to promote positive relationships between young people and their birth families.

A number of implications for practice emerged from the interviews with foster carers, and were supported by other data from the project from young people and social workers.

Prof Schofield said: “At the initial assessment, training and preparation stage, it will be important for fostering agencies to explore prospective foster carers’ values and attitudes in relation to LGBTQ issues.

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“Key also to ensuring high quality foster care will be the quality of the work of supervising social workers and children’s social workers. Foster carers in this study felt that they needed social workers to offer better information, for example in relation to LGBTQ support groups or gender identity services.”

Carers also needed clearer policies and better support to manage the day-to-day decisions within the care system, whether regarding decisions over sleepovers or managing inter-professional meetings such as statutory reviews. Better training for social workers about the experiences and needs of LGBTQ young people and their carers is also essential, both in qualifying and post-qualifying programmes.

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Trans women case study shows sperm production is possible but not certain

A study found that one transgender woman was able to produce viable sperm after a few months of discontinuing her puberty-halting medication, whereas a different patient on hormone therapy could not produce sperm during the time she could psychologically tolerate being off her medication.

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Scientists at Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI), collaborating with clinicians at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh report two cases in which young transgender women attempted to recover their fertility after starting and stopping gender-affirming medications.

The study, published in Pediatrics, found that one transgender woman was able to produce viable sperm after a few months of discontinuing her puberty-halting medication, whereas a different patient on hormone therapy could not produce sperm during the time she could psychologically tolerate being off her medication.

“We were interested in examining the timeline for getting viable sperm after stopping masculinity-suppressing medication,” said lead author Hanna Valli-Pulaski, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at MWRI. “Going on and off gender-affirming medications can cause psychological distress in this population and it’s important patients have a discussion with their health care provider before starting or stopping any treatment.”

The research team examined medical records of two transgender women who tried to preserve their sperm after stopping hormone therapy and compared their semen quality against eight other transgender women who elected to preserve their sperm before beginning therapy. All of the study participants came through the Fertility Preservation Program in Pittsburgh between 2015 and 2018 as young adults.

One of the patients who elected to preserve their sperm after beginning therapy had been taking the drug Lupron–a sex hormone blocker that halts puberty when taken in adolescence–for six months. She elected to stop taking Lupron to attempt sperm cryopreservation.

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Five months later, she was able to produce a sperm sample comparable to those collected from the eight transgender women who saved their sperm prior to undergoing treatment.

Although this one case shows that it’s possible to recover sperm after starting gender-affirming therapy, stopping medication for even just a few months can be psychologically distressing, Valli-Pulaski said. For male-to-female transgender individuals, facial hair can start to sprout and the voice begin to deepen after just a few months of stopping medication. It’s possible to reverse these effects, but it would take time.

What’s more, a second case included in this study showed that fertility doesn’t always return quickly after going off gender-affirming drugs.

This patient had been taking estradiol and spironolactone for more than two years. Four months after stopping treatment, she was still unable to produce viable sperm, and at that point, she decided to stop trying for fertility preservation and proceeded with gender reassignment surgery.

The sperm production results of the two study participants provide valuable information that clinicians can share with future patients wishing to have biological children after beginning gender-affirming therapy, notes Valli-Pilaski.

“Right now, there’s not much information available about fertility preservation for transgender patients,” Valli-Pulaski said. “If you have any data, it’s important to share so that patients, researchers and clinicians can learn from it.”

Additional authors on the study include Emily Barnard, D.O., Stephanie Rothenberg, M.D., Marie Menke, M.D., of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital; Cherie Priya Dhar, M.D., Selma Witchel, M.D., Gerald Montano, D.O., of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; and Kyle Orwig, Ph.D., of Magee-Womens Research Institute.

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Loneliness and social anxiety a bad combination for people using dating apps

Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

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Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who fit that profile were more likely than others to say they’ve experienced negative outcomes because of their dating app use.

“It’s not just that they’re using their phone a lot,” said Kathryn Coduto, lead author of the study and doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University. “We had participants who said they were missing school or work, or getting in trouble in classes or at work because they kept checking the dating apps on their phones.”

Coduto said it is a problem she has seen firsthand.

“I’ve seen people who use dating apps compulsively. They take their phones out when they’re at dinner with friends or when they’re in groups. They really can’t stop swiping,” she said.

The study was published recently online in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Participants were 269 undergraduate students with experience using one or more dating apps. All answered questions designed to measure their loneliness and social anxiety (for example, they were asked if they were constantly nervous around other people).

Compulsive use was measured by asking participants how much they agreed with statements like “I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps.”

Participants also reported negative outcomes from using dating apps, such as missing class or work or getting in trouble because they were on their phones.

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Results showed, not surprisingly, that socially anxious participants preferred to meet and talk to potential dating partners online rather than in person. They tended to agree with statements like “I am more confident socializing on dating apps than offline.”

But that alone didn’t lead them to compulsively use dating apps, Coduto said.

“If they were also lonely, that’s what made the problem significant,” she said. “That combination led to compulsive use and then negative outcomes.”

Coduto said people need to be aware of their dating app use and consider whether they have a problem. If they have trouble setting limits for themselves, they can use apps that restrict dating app use to certain times of day or to a set amount of time each day.

“Especially if you’re lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use,” she said.

Coduto’s co-authors on the study were Roselyn Lee-Won, associate professor of communication at Ohio State and Young Min Baek of Yonsei University in Korea.

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