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Women’s colleges more welcoming to transgender students

In this Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 photo, Ninotska Love, who has been accepted at Wellesley College, opens the door to her dorm room at the school in Wellesley, Mass. A growing number of women’s colleges are welcoming transgender women on campus after refusing to admit them for years. Two trans women, including Ninotska, attending Wellesley this fall are believed to be the first at the school since it decided to start allowing trans women in 2015. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Until last year, Ninotska Love would have been barred from attending Wellesley College. She’s an accomplished student who has persevered through hardship, but under longstanding rules, the college would have rejected her.

Now the rules have changed. This week, Love will become one of the first transgender women to attend Wellesley in the school’s 147-year history.

“For me to be accepted to one of the best colleges for women in the nation, it is a big validation of the person that I have become. At first I couldn’t believe it,” said Love, 28, who was born in Ecuador but fled to the U.S. in 2009 after being kidnapped and threatened because of her gender identity. “I’m so thankful to be here.”

Her arrival on campus reflects a quiet but momentous shift that’s taking place at a wave of women’s colleges that have begun allowing trans women. On Tuesday, Spelman College in Atlanta became the latest to say it will accept students who identify as women, “regardless of their gender assignment at birth.” But even as many schools embrace shifting views on gender, some have been reluctant to change amid lingering differences over the role of women’s colleges.

At least nine women’s colleges have moved to allow trans women since 2014, starting with Mills College in Oakland, California. Joining Wellesley in 2015 were Smith, Bryn Mawr and Barnard colleges, the last of the so-called Seven Sisters women’s colleges to make the change. Spelman, a historically black college, announced its new policy will take effect for students enrolling in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Advocates say others have likely done so without advertising it.

“I think it’s a step forward, one that’s long overdue,” said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “If they say they’re women, then saying that they can’t attend is denying their identities and marginalizing them.”

Just how many trans women are attending women’s colleges remains unknown. Many schools that now accept them won’t say how many they enroll, if any, citing privacy concerns. Schools including Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges say they don’t track the gender identities of their students.

Chicora Martin, vice president of student life and dean of students at Mills College, said some fear backlash from alumni or donors who don’t support the change, and they want to protect students from outside scrutiny. At Mills, 8 percent of more than 700 undergraduates identify as trans women.

“I think that’s something they don’t want to draw to their students,” Martin said. “Ultimately the attention is drawn to them, and that can be negative attention.”

Colleges of all types have faced increasing pressure to meet the needs of trans men and women, who make up an estimated 0.7 percent of the nation’s youths. Some schools have responded by offering gender-neutral bathrooms and medical insurance that covers hormone treatments, or by letting students pick their gender pronouns .

Still, alumnae of some women’s colleges have opposed the admissions change, saying it undermines the institutional mission to empower women. Leaders at some schools counter that women’s colleges were founded to educate those who have been marginalized because of their gender.

“That’s always been the historic role of women’s colleges,” Martin said. “The definition of gender and gender identity has broadened, and yet it’s still very much that mission.”

Some schools have resisted widening their gender policies. At Hollins University, a private school of about 800 in Virginia, trans women can be accepted only if they have completed a legal and surgical transition from male to female, which legally entitles them to consideration anyway.

Hollins spokesman Jeff Hodges said the policy “supports how the university defines its mission as an undergraduate institution of higher learning for women.”

At Wellesley, Love said she knows of at least one other trans woman starting this week. Wellesley leaders said that they don’t comment on the gender identities of specific students but that they welcome Love to the school’s “community of outstanding women.”

“As the leading liberal arts college for women, Wellesley’s mission is to educate women who will make a difference in the world — and those women represent diversity in every dimension,” Sofiya Cabalquinto, a college spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Love is considering a major in women’s and gender studies and later hopes to become a civil rights lawyer for LGBT students and immigrants. It’s a goal shaped by her own past; Love says she illegally entered Texas from Mexico before being granted asylum because of her persecution in Ecuador.

Her first job in the U.S. was cleaning dorms at a college in North Carolina. She later moved to New York City and started classes at LaGuardia Community College, where she earned academic honors and gained support from the Kaplan Educational Foundation, which helps low-income and minority students transfer to four-year universities.

Love was accepted to a dozen colleges but says Wellesley was always her top choice.

“I knew that it would be a challenge; I knew that it would be difficult,” she said, “but at the same time I knew that I can make a difference — and I knew that I can show to other people that we transgender women are humans, too.”

Animated short film celebrates young gay love & melts all the hearts

Prepare to have your heart melt with this year’s sweetest animated short film, which tells the story of a gay boy whose feelings can’t help but show.

Young gay love is all too often ignored in films, animated and otherwise, making the project that much more important.

It tells the story of a closeted boy who “runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams” and is the work of filmmakers Beth David and Esteban Bravo, from the Ringling College of Art and Design, with score from Arturo Cardelús and sound design by Nick Ainsworth.

This beautiful work speaks best for itself, so without further ado, watch it below.

The Anniversary…

Sam Cech July 20th, 2016

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Sam Cech. We need to remember that because you are different and don’t go along with the “Straight, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay” spectrum doesn’t mean you are a freak or broken. You are who you are. We are all different and that’s what makes us human. This terrible sad story reminds us of that.

Sam Cech 1997-2016 Article

Dr. Peter Matters | Published on: July 21, 2017 | Last Updated: July 21, 2017 3:18 PM MDT. © Copyright 2015 MisterAwareness.

A School Included This Teen’s Service Dog In The Yearbook And It’s The Purest Thing

Last week, along with the rest of the seniors at Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia, 18-year-old Diana Bloom got her yearbook.

“Seeing a picture of a dog caught my eye pretty quickly,” Bloom told BuzzFeed News. “I thought it was so cute, and I knew that some of my underclassmen friends hadn’t seen it yet because they didn’t have their yearbooks so I took a picture and tweeted it.”
Her tweet has since been retweeted more than 2,500 times.

“This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

This very good student is called Alpha, and he’s a service dog for Andrew ‘AJ’ Schalk, a 16-year-old junior at Stafford High.

Bloom said she and Schalk ride the same bus but don’t have any classes together so she didn’t know that Alpha would be appearing in the yearbook.

Schalk told BuzzFeed News that he has Type 1 diabetes and Alpha’s job is to alert him when his blood sugar is getting too low or high.

“The amazing thing about Alpha is that he knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell,” he said.

“He has saved my life multiple times already, by waking me up in the middle of the night to extremely low blood sugars, which are very dangerous,” Schalk said.

Schalk said he started bringing to Alpha to school with him last year “to get him acclimated to the school environment so he would be prepared for this year.”

“He has become a huge part of my school, coming to my classes with me, and a lot of people know about him,” Schalk said. So he spoke to the people in charge of the yearbook to see if Alpha could be included in the yearbook, and they were 100 percent supportive.

“All the teachers and students were 100 percent supportive,” Schalk said.

“I just brought him with me when I got my yearbook picture taken,” Schalk said. “The only thing they changed was the camera height. They just had to lower it a little haha.”

Alpha even got his own school ID.

“He has been a great companion and added a lot of happiness to my school’s environment,” Schalk said, “It brightens people’s days seeing him in the halls or in my class and I love being able to have that effect on people.”

“Yes, Alpha is really an amazing animal,” Schalk said. “He makes a disability, such as my diabetes, such a positive experience for me and my life overall, and really turns it into a blessing rather than a negative part of my life.”

Germany will vote on marriage equality on Friday

The German Parliament plans to vote Friday on whether to legalize same-sex marriage — only days after Chancellor Angela Merkel backed off her conservative party’s long-standing refusal to budge on the issue.

The German news agency dpa reported Wednesday the Parliament’s legal committee had given its OK for the vote to take place Friday.

Merkel surprisingly said Monday she could see lawmakers making the issue a “decision of conscience,” voting according to individual preferences rather than along party lines.

Her comment came ahead of Germany’s Sept. 24 election in which all of Merkel’s potential coalition partners, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, are calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships since 2001.

Emilie (Emmett) Lamache

My journey to a career in fitness is far from conventional. After my graduation from High School, I attended the University of Alberta in Ancient and Medieval History for two years, I then moved on from that path to NAIT where I took Graphic Design. Upon graduating from NAIT, I started my own Graphic design company named Pandora’s Box design. Finally, after a few years of running my own business, I felt like there was something missing, and turned towards the NAIT website to browse the programs. The Personal Fitness Training program caught my attention, and I applied that very night in a spur of the moment. That decision changed my life as I discovered a passion for fitness and the industry around it. I worked hard at school to learn as much as I could, and eventually came to see that the industry was very lacking when it came to LGBTQ+ specialised training and program design. Being gender-queer myself, I struggled to find a place for me, and others like me who got lost amongst the ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories without truly finding a place. That is when my I truly found my path for my fitness career; research training methods for transgender and gender non-conforming folks, and also create inclusive training for the LGBTQ+ population as a whole. This is now my focus, to fill a void that is deeply felt by the community, and provide support and expertise without judgement or questions. My goal is to create a guideline for training transgender and gender non-confirming folks so that every trainer can give the best care and fitness prescription to their clients. It is also to give a new perspective on the fitness industry, and the dichotomy we seem to have fallen into regarding gender and sex. We all benefit from a fit, healthy life. My goal is to make that available to all who identify as a gender or sexual minority.

Pride 2017!

Pride is coming up soon! Please remember that attending Pride events as an ally means you need to support the LGBTQ2I+ community on days without a party. Pride is a ton of fun and an amazing celebration of queer culture and identity, but also represents a long uphill battle that is still ongoing. Please don’t forget that there is work to be done when no one is looking.

If you show up to the parade without acknowledging the existence of non-binary people, respecting people’s pronouns, protecting trans people and holding your pals accountable when they don’t, you are doing harm and assisting in erasure. Listen, support, make space and uplift. Year round. We have a long way to go.

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Ellen tells Matt Lauer: Trump ‘against everything I stand for’

Ellen DeGeneres says she doesn’t want President Trump on her talk show because “he’s against everything that I stand for.”

“I’m not going to change his mind,” the daytime TV host told Matt Lauer in an interview on “Today” that aired Friday.

The Emmy winner — who has played host to several political figures on her show over the years, including former first lady Michelle Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former President George W. Bush and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — added, “We need to look at someone else who looks different than us and believes in something that we don’t believe in and still accept them, and still let them have their rights.”

DeGeneres, 59, says she met Trump during one of the first seasons of his former NBC show, “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“I flew in his helicopter and did a bit with him. So I knew him then,” she told Lauer.

“I have not spoken to him since he’s run for president or become president,” she said.

In a separate interview with Lauer on Thursday for her eponymous show, DeGeneres discussed with the morning TV anchor Trump’s relationship with the media and his dubbing much of the press as “fake news.”

“It’s something that he goes out and says in front of a crowd of supporters and he gets a great reaction,” Lauer, who estimated he had interviewed Trump roughly “30 or 40 times” on “Today,” said.

“He doesn’t hate the media. As a matter of fact he’s one of the people I know who has over the years loved the media more than most people. But it’s just this kind of catchphrase, the ‘fake news’ and the ‘fake media,’” said Lauer.

“I think he hates the media that doesn’t praise him,” said DeGeneres — who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama last year. “I think he hates the media that’s gonna attack him, which anyone would.”

“But you can’t have it both ways,” Lauer replied. “You can’t just have a media that you only want them to say the things you want them to say. I think it’s going to die down, I really do.”

Mississippi funeral home refused to pick up body when they found out he was gay

A gay man is suing a funeral home in Mississippi for refusing to take his husband’s body when they found out he had been married to a man.

Jack Zawadski’s partner of over 52 years, Robert Huskey, died in May 2016, and Zawadski’s nephew made funeral arrangements with the Picayune Funeral Home in Mississippi. The funeral home reportedly refused to pick up the body when they found out Huskey had been a gay man.

“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” the 86 year-old Zawadski said in a statement on Tuesday. “Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community. And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn’t believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through.”

They had to take the body to another funeral home, nearly 100 miles away.

He is suing the funeral home, as well as the parent company, Brewer Funeral Services, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation, with help from Lambda Legal.

“John made all necessary arrangements before Bob’s passing in order to shield his…uncle from additional suffering and to allow friends to gather to support Jack in his grief,” Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell told NBC News. “Instead, Bob’s peaceful passing was marred by turmoil, distress and indignity, adding immeasurable anguish to Jack and John’s loss. This should not have happened to them, and should not be allowed to happen again.”

“Instead, Bob’s peaceful passing was marred by turmoil, distress and indignity, adding immeasurable anguish to Jack and John’s loss. This should not have happened to them, and should not be allowed to happen again.”

Mississippi has no protections for LGBTQ people to prevent such actions, and House Bill 1523 gives companies the right to turn away LGBTQ people if they have a religious reason for doing so. The law has been blocked from taking effect while an ongoing legal challenge plays out, which also includes Lambda Legal.

Yesterday, Democrats introduced the Equality Act of 2017 to provide completely, nationwide protections for LGBTQ people. On the same day, news broke that Trump is planning to sign a “religious freedom” executive order, similar to Mississippi’s HB1523.

13 things you always wanted to know about being transgender but were afraid to ask

As it becomes more visible it also becomes harder to deny or oppress it when you see that it’s a possibility

A growing number of people are identifying as transgender — changing the gender they were assigned when they were born.

And while many people are now educated about what it means to be gay, lesbian or bisexual, there’s now lots to learn about what it means to be transgender.

  • P.E.I.’s LGBT community meets with Trudeau’s special advisor
  • IWK psychologist says transgender resources on P.E.I. are improving

Ash Arsenault is an Islander who transitioned a few years ago from female to male.

In the name of education, the 25-year-old young professional — he works at Veterans Affairs Canada while finishing up a master’s degree in physics — good-naturedly agreed to help answer some politically-incorrect questions about what it means to be transgender.

1. What does being transgender mean — is it in any way the same as transvestite?

Ha! No they’re very different. That’s one of the common misconceptions — the term transvestite refers to somebody who changes their gender expression usually for entertainment purposes. You know, drag for example. Whereas identifying as transgender implies an actual incongruence between your gender identity and the sex you were assigned at birth, which can cause deep distress.

2. Is using the term ‘tranny’ a no-no?

Yes that’s hugely offensive to most trans people. It has a huge negative connotation and historical ties to violence, so as a general rule it’s best to just avoid that word.

Even the word transgendered, with an “ed,” while less derogatory, that can still be offensive to some people, because it implies that trans-ness is something that “happens to you” as opposed to just being who you are and always have been.

For example, you wouldn’t call a person of colour “blackened.”

I think most people have some sense of something being different or something wrong at a very early age,’ says Ash Arsenault.

3. Are more people identifying as transgender now — is it ‘trendy?’

Ha ha! I definitely think more people are coming out as trans now, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because of a trend. I think it’s just more acceptable to do so now because we’ve come a long way and we’ve progressed as a society. And after repressing it for so long, we have more and more cases crop up.

4. What age do you think most trans people know [they’re trans]?

It’s hugely different from one person to the next … there’s a lot of people who come out and transition later in life. I know somebody who came out and started transitioning at 72!

I think most people have some sense of something being different or something wrong at a very early age, even if they can’t put it into words right away.

I kind of felt that feeling when I was probably three or four — as early as I can remember. But I didn’t put it into words until I was in my late teens, early 20s.

5. Why is using a trans person’s old name or ‘dead’ name a no-no?

It can bring up a lot of dysphoria in people, as people remember how they felt before while using that name — so it can bring up a lot of negative feelings. They never identified with that name.

My case is unique — I changed my middle name [from Nicole to Cole] — but I kept my birth name which is Ashley because it’s a unisex name and I have no issue with it. But I think that’s uncommon. I’m a huge creature of habit!

  • ‘Able to be who he is’: Transgender 11-year-old from P.E.I. shares story
  • P.E.I. transgender community applauds ID changes

6. You transitioned a few years ago from a girl to a boy. What’s the gender transition process?

It’s different for everyone. Some people only transition socially and not medically.

My experience is, it was absolutely vital and I wouldn’t be here without it — and also very enlightening. I find the way that I’m treated is very different when I’m perceived as male as opposed to female. So it really opened my eyes, big-time, as to why we need feminism. People trust what I have to say a lot more — they just trust blindly.

On the medical side of things, I started hormones three of four years ago. I’m on them for life.

I had top surgery [to remove my breasts] two years and a bit ago. It’s healed very nicely.

I’m not sure what else will be in my near future — I’m just taking it as it comes.

7. How rude is it to ask what surgery a trans person has had?

Some people are perfectly fine talking about it, others not so much. I’d say it’s best to ask nicely beforehand whether somebody’s comfortable talking about it. It’s probably safest to assume it’s too personal.

8. Gender identity has nothing to do with sexual preference, right?

Right. You can be a trans man and prefer men or women.

9. How hard is it for trans people to find love?

I’m not going to lie, there are challenges associated with dating as a trans person. But it’s definitely doable.

We aren’t undesirable people: in fact, trans people very often have a confident sense of who they are and plus, being socialized as more than one gender has its perks in my opinion! It kind of gives us a broader understanding … having those different perspectives is kind of a cool thing, I’ve really embraced that part of it.

10. What does cis or cisgender mean?

That’s just the term that’s used to refer to somebody who identifies with the sex with which they were born.

11. Transgender people are the T in LGBT, and some people add Q for queer — what does queer actually mean?

Everybody has a slightly different definition, but I sum it up as somebody who doesn’t really fit into society’s gender norms. So, anybody whose gender might be not what it was assigned at birth, or gender-fluid or people who dates anybody … who lies outside the hetero-normative idea. Basically it encompasses all of us who don’t really fit into society’s gender norms.

I associate it with a community too, because it is really a great community of people.

12. Non-binary is another term I’m hearing more often these days. What does it mean?

That’s somebody who doesn’t really necessarily identify with being male or female. Their gender kind of lies outside the realm of gender, or somewhere in the middle, or maybe fluctuates from one end to the other. It’s just like the whole trans movement in general — It’s probably going to become more and more accepted as we’re becoming more open-minded to that sort of thing.

First we had gay rights, now we have trans issues and I think non-binary people will become more visible as well.

13. Do you think people on P.E.I. are becoming more accepting of the trans community?

Definitely. I think society is, as a whole. I feel that positive shift for sure.