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Semantics and Half: How to Come Out?

The power of the choice of words, and some things to consider

Coming out is hard. On that, we all agree.

Everybody that has struggled with their sexuality or their gender orientation knows about it. Families, relatives and friends of LGBTQ people, on the other hand, also struggle with the subject, to whether confirm or disprove their suspicions.

While I cannot tell people what to do, I can try to show people how to see for themselves what their options are, and most importantly, how to take the right decision.

Before I start dabbling into this riddle of semantics, let me quickly explain the basics of sociology: Everyday life.

We are social people.

We live in a world that we share with other people. We connect and interact with them daily. The world was time and space before we even existed, and it will continue to be present after we die.

This unquestionable truth is what we call reality.

In our daily lives, we synchronise our internal sense of time with the that of reality. We can tell, for example, when something is taking longer or faster than usual based on our ability to contrast experiences with the new data that we receive as we go about our business.

This is when the other unquestionable truth comes to mind: Things take time.

Coming out of the closet is no different. From the first time we questioned aspects of our identity or sexuality to the moment that we finally came out of the closet, there had been several steps in between or there should have been. In short: It did not happen simultaneously.

The problem to some people begins when they have accumulated lots of information about LGBTQ issues during their journey, and they want to compress years of thoughts, research and experience, into a small family conversation. It is impossible to do. If you manage to, though, let me know how.

I am not going to say that by following a sensible approach you will succeed because there are families and friends who will refuse to listen regardless. You can, however, pave the way and prepare them to listen.

Just think for a moment about the disparity in knowledge between you and someone who knows nothing about LGBTQ issues. Think about the amount of knowledge that you would have to impart on them before you even discuss coming out.

Some peers and relatives —rare, wonderful creatures— have so much empathy and selfless love that they care without needing to research or understand. If that is your case, consider yourself very lucky.

However, testing the waters and imparting a bit of knowledge in the form of raising awareness on LGBTQ issues, a little at a time, won’t hurt anybody.

To recap:

  • Remember that it took you a while to learn about LGBTQ issues.
  • Remember how your thought processing used to be before you became an advocate.
  • Speak to your peers and friends in a language that they can understand.

I know a lot of people who were openly homophobic before they came out. In fact, there are some studies about that, which suggest that homophobes are potential closet homosexuals themselves.

Let’s not get into that just now, though. Let us just remember that our parents and friends might have the best intentions, but they lack the background information, and will naturally not be in touch with what you’re saying. That doesn’t make them bad people. They are just human.

 

By Ellie Hope (@elliehopeauthor on facebook/twitter)  

 

Georgia Transgender Men Win Right To Legally Change Their Names

Court of Appeals of Georgia reverses Columbia County decisions on transgender name changes

Thegavoice.com

The decision came as a complete shock for attorney Beth Littrell and plaintiffs Rowan Feldhaus and Andrew Baumert, who were supposed to present oral arguments to an appellate panel on Feb. 9.

“The court decided it didn’t even need to hear from us,” Littrell said. “The arguments we already presented on paper persuaded it to direct the lower court to grant the name changes.”

Judge David J. Roper denied the men’s requests for name changes in separate 2015 and 2016 decisions, citing the name changes would “confuse and mislead” the public, and demanded the names be gender-neutral enough before granting approval, according to the appellate decision. The Court of Appeals reversed Roper’s decision and directed the lower court to “remand to enter an order” changing their names as requested.

“I was completely off-guard and surprised and I was like, is this a joke? This is too surreal,” Feldhaus, a resident of Grovetown, Georgia, said. “I’m more than happy with what I heard today. I just felt a since of ease come over me and it’s just done. There’s a precedence for this.”

“This request is not unusual and is in line with standard-of-care for treating gender dysphoria, and in line with First Amendment rights,” Littrell said. “The only remarkable think about these cases was the judge denied the request. The judge did so in both cases based on the court’s own ‘policy’ of refusing to approve [of transgender name changes] unless he approved of the name requested.”

The names requested were “too male” for Roper, who decided both of the cases months apart.

“The decisions were almost verbatim the same,” Littrell said.“Name changes are one of the ways in which transgender people live their truth and live authentically. To have the government step in and deny transgender persons the right to live their truth is outrageous, unconstitutional and we wanted to ensure it didn’t happen to another transgender Georgian.”
Source: Georgia Voice

Whose Line Star Defends Transgender Daughter from Haters on Twitter

And his comeback was fabulous..

Comedian Colin Mochrie revealed that he and his wife, Deb McGrath, have a transgender daughter when he went on twitter to defend LGBTQ rights.

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The “Whose Line Is It Anyway” star revealed that he’s the father of a transgender girl when  he questioned people who can’t accept transgender people.

“My 90-yr-old mother-in-law and 87-yr-old mother love and acceptance of our trans daughter warms me. Wonder why some who are younger can’t,” Mochrie tweeted.

“The negative is that my mom refers to the community as BLT. It’s a learning curve.”

Mochrie hasn’t spoken publicly about his daughter, but he and McGrath performed in May at an event to fund the Welcome Friend Association’s Rainbow Camp, a one-week camp for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) youth that “honors creativity, individual choice, and social justice while having fun.”

India Opens First School for Transgender Students Who Dropped Out Of School

Teachers are also transgender

Reuters

A residential school for transgender people has been opened in the Indian city of Kochi, to help adults who dropped out of school finish their education.

Transgender people can face judgement and hostility in India, and around half of them fail to complete their schooling as a result.

Sahaj International is the first school of its kind in India.

It will welcome 10 pupils, aged 25-50.

The students will be prepared for India’s Class 10 and 12 board exams, normally sat when students are aged 15-16 or 17-18 respectively. The curriculum will also include some vocational skills.

Transgender activist Vijayraja Mallika, who heads the school, told the BBC: “The school aims at making transgenders eligible for taking decent jobs and living a dignified life.”

“We have admitted six candidates so far, all male-to-female persons, from 14 applicants. Of the 10 seats, we have reserved one for female-to-male and one for the disabled.”

Teachers are also transgender

The school is in Kerala, which is the first Indian state to adopt a transgender policy against discrimination. It promotes inclusive education, and offers free gender reassignment surgery at government hospitals.

The centre’s organisers said they had arranged sponsors for all the students, to pay for their food, accommodation and studies.

The teachers also belong to the transgender community – a measure designed to protect and encourage the pupils.

The decision comes after India’s first transgender college principal, Manabi Bandopadhyay, resigned from her post claiming that some of her students and fellow teachers had agitated against her because of her sexual identity.

India has an estimated two million transgender people, and in 2014 the country’s Supreme Court ruled that they have equal rights under the law.

As well as the right to marry and inherit property, they are also eligible for quotas in jobs and educational institutions.

But abuse and exploitation are still common. Many transgender people are thrown out of home by their families, denied jobs, and forced into sex work, begging, or dancing at weddings to make ends meet.

‘700 people turned us away’

Even finding a venue for the school was a challenge, as nobody was willing to rent the founders their premises.

“We approached some 700 people and 51 households, and all of them turned us away. They seemed to think that we were looking for space for prostitution,” Ms Mallika said.

Finally, a suitable site was found.

All of the school’s first students come from Kerala, but Ms Mallika hopes to gather more from beyond the state.

“This is a model centre. Once proved successful, we will expand the facilities and admit more people, from across India,” she said.

“Kerala has some 25,000 transgenders, and 57% of them were forced to drop out of school due to stigma. They all should get a decent accommodation the policy initiatives envisaged.”

The school was opened by activist Kalki Subramaniam, who is a transgender woman herself.

“This day is historic for me,” she said.

Reporting by Ashraf Padanna in Trivandrum, Kerala

BBC News

Pakistan Passed law Allowing Transgender People to Legally Marry under Islamic Law

Gay marriage is still illegal, though.

Pakistan might have become the first muslim nation to give legal status to transgender people, and perhaps the first country in the world where the T comes first as regards equal rights.

Last monday, Pakistan declared that marrying transgender individuals is permissible under Islamic law, Reuters reports

The religious leaders also announced that transgender people have full rights when it comes to Muslim burial ceremonies and Islamic inheritance law.

 

AP / Screen Capture (Fair Use)

The fatwa — a ruling on Islamic law — said that only a “female-born transgender person having ‘visible signs of being a male’ may marry a woman or a male-born transgender with ‘visible signs of being a female,’ and vice versa.”

This leaves homosexual transgender women and men unable to marry, just like cisgender homosexual couples.

The controversial document, which refers to cisgender people as “normal”, concludes:

“Normal men and women can also marry such transgender people as have clear indications on their body,” it states.

BREAKING: Truck ploughs into christmas market in Germany. 9 dead, over 50 injured.

A big lorry has ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing and injuring several people.

Twitter

DEVELOPING STORY

Police on the ground have said this is a suspected attack on German shoppers.

A witness said “people are crushed” while another said people are passed out on the ground underneath the articulated truck.

Videos and pictures emerging online have shown market stalls crushed by the huge lorry.

The driver has been arrested, according to reports.

The truck drove up the Budapester Strasse onto the footpath and came to a stop before the gigantic Norwegian Christmas fir tree erected just a week ago.

One person at the market said the truck was travelling “fast” and crashed with a loud bang.

As many as 50 people have been injured and locals are reporting several fatalities.

How to Spot “Fake News”

Follow Ellie on twitter (@elliehopeauthor)

“NEW YORK (AP) — The Pope has endorsed Donald Trump for president.”

“A Washington, DC, pizzeria is a front for a child sex abuse ring.”

“George Soros will “bring down” the U.S. by funding “black hate groups.”

 

These are just some examples of viral stories circulated on social media recently that are completely untrue. Facebook on Thursday announced some steps it’s taking to stop the spread of such “fake news” on its huge social network.

This includes working with outside fact-checking organizations and drying up financial incentives to what it calls the “worst of the worst” spammers that traffic in made-up stories. But there are basic things news readers can do themselves to spot fake news. And if you want, you can report them to Facebook, which can flag stories for fact-checkers to evaluate.

CHECK THE SOURCE

Some hoax sites, designed to draw you in for advertising revenue, feature designs that resemble legitimate, well-known websites. Such “spoofing” can be quite effective — but there are often telltale signs to indicate their true nature.

For example, you should be vary of articles on sites whose addresses, or URLs, that end in “com.co,” writes Melissa Zimdars, a communications professor at Merrimack College whose own list of “fake news” sites went viral. (She has since taken it down and published a more general guide .) You can also check the website’s “about” page, its list of contacts, and other stories and photos on it. Poke around a little; if things look less-than-official, you’re probably on a spoof site.

GRAMMAR AND EMOTIONS

Random use of ALL CAPS? Lots of exclamation points? Does it make sense when you read it out loud? Can you imagine a TV newscaster reading it out loud? Is there something just off about it? Does it sound very angry, inflammatory, emotional? None of these are good signs.

POKE AROUND FOR OTHER COVERAGE

If a story is real and really big, you will likely (though not always) see some version of it from multiple sources. Is it on sites like ABC News, The Associated Press, the New York Times, or other places you have heard of? Is it featured in your local newspaper, the one printed on actual paper?

Let’s put it this way: If the pope actually endorsed Trump, you’d see it everywhere.

SOURCES, SOURCES, SOURCES

Anonymous sources can appear in legit as well as made-up news stories. But Googling the people who are named in a story is a good way to check whether the story itself is real. They might have a LinkedIn profile, or appear in other news stories, for example. Someone says they are a university professor? Google the name of the university. Is it a health study on a new cure for cancer? Look it up.

ON FACEBOOK

Facebook users often share articles without reading them. Don’t be that person.

Instead, click on the link and read the story before hitting the “share” button. If you believe a story someone shared is fake, you can post a comment, or report it to Facebook for outside fact-checking by clicking on the gray arrow on the upper right corner and selecting “report this post.” You’ll get an option for “It’s a fake news story.”

 

Source: AP

Why pop stars won’t play for Trump

Reports from the US suggest Donald Trump is struggling to find renowned stars to perform at his inauguration.

American President-Elect Donald Trump / Wikipedia

When President Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, many artists played at his inauguration, such as Beyonce and Aretha Franklin.

During his stay in the White House, he’s had audiences with the likes of Rihanna, James Taylor and Kendrick Lamar.

Donald Trump might not be so lucky.

The Wrap reports that Trump’s inaugural committee is struggling to find stars who are willing to play at his swearing in ceremony on 20 January 2017.

An artist who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I couldn’t do it,” “Not even for a billion dollars.”

British Singer & Songwriter Sir Elton John won’t play at Trump’s inauguration. / Wikipedia

“They’re calling managers, agents, everyone in town to see who they can get and it’s been problematic,” an unnamed source told the site.

Grammy-winner John Legend, who has been a guest of the Obamas several times, says he is “not surprised at all”.

“Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate,” he told the BBC News

“We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that’s preaching division and hate and bigotry, it’s unlikely he’ll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him.”

“I would never do it,” agrees Swedish star Zara Larsson, speaking at the BBC Music Awards.

“A lot of artists out there have been very pro-Hillary and anti-Donald. So I would never do it and most other smart people wouldn’t do it.”

Sources within Trump’s circle said that Elton John would play, but John denied the claims. His publicist sated:”Incorrect. He will NOT be performing, there is no truth in this at all.”

Low Profile Stars

Since then, the names bandied around have been much lower-profile – from rap-rock rascal Kid Rock to Achy Breaky country star Billy Ray Cyrus.

“I don’t think I would take the money on that one,” says US pop star Adam Lambert, the part-time frontman of Queen, who is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ rights.

“I don’t think I’d be endorsing that. They might struggle.”

 

Source: The Wrap / BBC News / Wikipedia