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Thursday, December 12, 2013

On When Life is Not a Bowl of Cherries

You are probably aware that this blog celebrates and encourages human rights of all sorts and is blatantly partial to LGBT rights, wherever they may be.

Now, we cannot help but be struck by the latest news we hear about two deflating moments in LGBT history in the world. One in India, one in Australia. At this point, we do not wish to bore you with the details of what went down except the fact that we find both to be retrogressive, unconscionable, and cruel.

This is strange, really. For at the matrix, that is, the source of such incomprehensible goings-on, folks are expected to say I do! come March next year. Yay! to them!!!

Onward! This may be a temporary defeat. THIS battle may be lost, but others
will come. Setbacks are marvellous tools for better strategizing and better reconnoitering. We are sure LGBT activists in both of these lands are fast at work devising ways and means to reach  an acceptable end, one that is agreeable to all the parties.

Meanwhile, all too conscious that life is not an enticing bowl of luscious red fruit, we will go in search of better news.

Hope springs eternal.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

On When What Goes Around, Comes Around

English: Clynotis severus, Female, Austin's Fe...
English: Clynotis severus, Female, Austin's Ferry, Tasmania, Australia(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cryptically, or perhaps not so cryptically, this short text is to remind us all that every action has a reaction. That is precisely why this blog, and this writer, are of the opinion that we have to strive to do Good to whoever/whatever.

Practicing goodess and fairness is good and fair for the doer and for the recipient. Mutually beneficial. Win-win.

Usually, people will go through hell through no fault of their own, or because they are ensnared in a situation, caught in a web, from which they cannot extricate themselves. This is a very common occurrence in life. Surely when we make choices we have to abide by the consequences.

This blog, let us put it this way, may have an ulterior motive to be writing about this. Care to explain? No, not at the moment. Suffice it to say that we have been victims and witnesses to gross injustices. And no! We are not gloating.  We are just stating a fact. Such fact, mind you, is the very essence of this text. It serves to remind us and inspire us to keep on keeping on while travelling on the narrow road.

They say Karma is a bitch; she'll find you wherever you care to hide. Rather, you can't hide!  Nowhere!

She has eyes in the back of Her head.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

On When Countries Shut Down And Then Come Back

United States Capitol
United States Capitol (Photo credit: Jack in DC)
It's with a sigh of relief that this blog welcomes the news out of the United States reporting that the partial shutdown of the government has now come to an end, thus averting a crisis with global economic ramifications (therein our interest).

Federal workers will now be allowed to go back to work and business, as usual, will be conducted, at least for the time being. For detailed factual information, check your preferred news source.

You see, an eleventh hour bipartisan deal managed to bring the country back to its senses. That is absolutely laudable. The crisis, manufactured or not, is a sign of thigs to come: analysts here and there are quick to point out that the "can has been kicked down the road" and that eventually the whole crisis will be back on radio talk shows and TV screens.

We shudder at the thought, for we are all for understanding and rational thinking. We believe that the constant bickering between two parties, be they political or otherwise, only serve one purpose: to make things worse. Dialogue and commons sense in the best interest of all is the ultimate goal. Of course, you will say, that is wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking or not, we are idealists and hope for a better world for all, here and there.

Good luck again.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On When Governments Shut Down, Partially or Otherwise, It Can't be Good

English: The United States Esperanto: Loko de ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Easing back into writing mode, let me take a minute to comment on a still developing story which has to do with the current impasse in Washington D.C.

I am talking about the American government partial shutdown and its possible consequence not only for the United States, but for countries south of the Rio Grande. A partial shutdown with global economic ramifications.

You should bear in mind that I am no economist and my views are merely rhetorical and entirely personal as I consume the facts via social media and other news outlets,

Should the American government come to a grinding halt, and all but the essentials be closed for business, one thing that I can  immediately think of is the fact the companies that depend on the U.S. for their day to day affairs will be strongly hit. As an example: travel agencies, especially as they deal directly with American embassies and consulates and the fact that immigrant and non-immigrant visa processing would only continue while funds last, plus their attendant service industries and their employees.

The reaction in our neck of the woods has been significant for this country is a huge trade partner of the United States. In other words, we do a great deal of business together. Should anything happen to the American economy, you can be sure that the ripple effect will be felt where we are.

As for the fact that the current debacle is about health care and whether the average citizen should have access to affordable alternatives, I think this is something only voters have a say on.  I've got zilch, nada, to say on the subject. It's a matter of choice.

Meanwhile, the simple folk north and south of the coveted border are grinding on day by day, as surely as the sun rises in the East every morning, free and nuclear for everyone.

Good luck!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Pain of Being Born in Wrong Body

Roberta Close - First Surgery in Brazil
Now that we have Chelsea Manning come out as a transsexual, here's an old post about the subject.

"A transsexual's life is very hard. The difficulty is there from the moment we are born. When we start growing up and learning about things it starts to get tricky. Ever since I was a kid, I thought I was a girl. I had this sensation and it was a natural thing to have. Maybe there is a reason, because I am the youngest of three women. Some people used to believe that it was because of that. Thing is, when I grew up, and became a teenager, I started to notice my sexuality.” Vivian Proença

“It’s tough. Everyone goes through prejudice, the lessening of their condition. It was only through hard fights, even with myself, that I was able to find out who I really was. In the beginning, you are born and you get that doubt: who am I? What am I? What am I doing here? When you start to understand you begin the search. When I started to see myself as a transsexual, when I got the chance, I looked for the ideal treatment which was surgery. I had to wait for three years. Up until January 2002 when I underwent surgery…
” Fernanda Rodrigues

I am a post-op transsexual. Ever since I was a child I dreamed of becoming a woman, not only in essence but in body as well, to be one. I grew up with cravings and feelings of a woman, but with something that did not get in the way of my relationships… I had always been frustrated because of something that bothered me a lot. It was shameful to have something I did not like. I would never go to the swimming-pool. I was very repressed.Roberta Sampaio
The statements above are the gist of the suffering those born with Gender Identity Disorder, also known as transsexualism, go through. People born with this condition will only find peace of mind only after undergoing a difficult, painful and risky surgery to reassign their gender. The biggest challenge is to turn a penis into a working vagina and one that looks like a real one.

According to Psychiatrist Maria Lobato, member of the multidisciplinary team of the Programa de Atendimento dos Transtornos de Identidade de Gênero (PROTIG) – Program for the Care of Gender Identity Disorders (PCGID)- at the Hospital de Clínicas in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: “The alteration of male genitalia, which is irrevocable, cannot be made under the slightest sign of discomfort. The patient's request for sex-reassignment surgery must be shown to be genuine and surgeons have to make sure they are not just dealing with the erotic imaginations of an immature personality, but with a long-thought-of conviction that this is a real gender disorder."

That’s why a psychiatric evaluation has to come before such surgeries to preclude the existence of a psychosis – which may be a contraindication to surgery, but also a reasonable degree of intelligence and emotional stability must be present if the person is to be illegible for surgery. “It’s the psychiatrist who has the final say and there is no other way of helping the patient to find acceptance," the psychiatrist says.

Science says that transsexualism is a gender identity disorder that begins in infancy and is characterized by non-acceptance and distress towards the gender individuals are born with, occurring more often in males than in females. Frequently, transsexuals wish to change their sex and live with a permanent search for games, clothing, and patterns of relationship and occupation with people of the opposite sex.

Transsexualism must be set apart from other disorders of sexual identity such as travestism or homosexuality: transvestites wear clothes of the opposite sex, associated with either bisexual or homosexual behavior without the wish to change their sex; however, homosexuality involves sexual attraction to same sex individuals, without the wish to dress or become the opposite sex.

Both transsexuals and their families experience great difficulties within their family as in society at large due to the prejudice and disinformation about transsexualism. “Patients usually find it difficult to adapt in the social milieu, schools and the workplace for example”, says psychologist Jaqueline Salvador also a member of the team at the Hospital de Clínicas in Porto Alegre.

“The transsexual person believes he or she is a victim of a biological accident, cruelly trapped in the wrong body, incompatible with their sexual orientation. Many ask for sex-reassignment surgery despite the difficulties these imply. Surgery will only be justified in very motivated individuals with a stable social and professional life,” continues the psychologist.

Jaqueline Salvador says that there is an ever increasing demand for sex-reassignment surgery due to a decision by the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) from September 1997, in Brazil, which authorizes transgenitalization, or sex change, in transsexuals on an experimental basis. The Hospital de Clínicas of Porto Alegre is in charge of about 200 patients with gender identity disorder of both sexes.

According to the psychologist, “the requirement for the candidates for surgery is that the patients have to undergo a strict evaluation by the multidisciplinary team which includes behavioral, social, clinical and existential issues performed by psychiatrists, plastic surgeons, psychologist, endocrinologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, speech therapists and social workers".

Multidisciplinarity is especially necessary in the way surgery for sex-reassignment is performed. The main requirements are at least two years of therapy, and more: proof of age, older than 21, formal consent, absence of mental disorders and inappropriate physical features that may impact the surgery. The psychologist evaluates the transsexual candidate to make sure he or she is not just a homosexual or a transvestite.

Patients are expected to undergo therapy for two years and are made aware of the pre and post-op processes and resocialized within psychological, professional and sexual criteria. The diagnosis has to be precise, thus defining the interventions which are suitable to the patient’s personal characteristics with the sole aim of adapting the biological sex to the psychological one.

“The transsexual patient undergoes a great deal of distress before the sex-reassignment surgery. He or she will only get over their misery after the conversion and the taking on of either female or male identity, be that in name, behavior or social acceptance. It’s not only the frustrated sexuality, but the gnawing pain of being gender-discordant which makes, especially males, prone to self-mutilation, suicide attempt or outright suicide.

The false relief that comes from alcohol and drugs is a frequent complication”, writes Harry Benjamin in his book the The Transsexual Phenomenon, available on the internet: “Self-mutilations are not rare in at least four of my patients out of a 112 male transsexuals. Two of them tried to castrate themselves out of a total of 152 males. Two of them tried to castrate themselves but had to give up and call a doctor. One of them did with the help of a friend. One of them mutilated his penis and had several stitches to repair the damage.

"Many incidents like this may be out there,” Harry Benjamin writes. That, in the United States. It may be happening all over the world, as it did in Brazil, with the case of a young transsexual who mutilated himself in a hotel room in a small town then dying as a consequence.

Dr. Carlos Abib Cury, chief-coordinator of the Surgical Specialties Department at the São José do Rio Preto Medical School in São Paulo, writes in an-e-mail interview that there is nothing proven about the cause of transsexualism: “Just like other anxiety states, despite the great breakthroughs, medicine is still falling behind in many areas. There is a lot of controversy as to the real number of genes in the human body." he says, and then "It used to be thought they were around 1 million in the beginning, then they thought it would be around 30 thousand. Today it is speculated that it is around 21 thousand."

Further in the interview, he says that “when they find out the real number of genes, they will study the link each gene has for organic diseases and see whether there is a link with genetics." He mentions still that "Only then will they study behavioral diseases. Until that is clear, everything is a question of hypotheses, theories, suppositions without scientific evidence. Therefore for every 40 thousandth birth, one transsexual male is born and for every 1 millionth woman, one is born transsexual.”

In Transsexual..., Harry Benjamin writes that “the cause of transsexualism and the possible sources from which the wish to change one’s sexuality comes from are probably controversial” there is a trend in scientific investigation that takes into account more than merely psychological aspects.

The possible origin of transsexualism is not discussed in medical literature very frequently or in detail. Most times, it is affirmed that it has an unknown cause. Invariably, it is linked with travestism and sometimes to homosexuality, both opening doors to controversy. Both the main theories, to date, are concerned with organic causes, that is, biological - not necessarily inherited. Or more frequently, with the purely psychological ones.”

Obviously, transsexuals are not able to serve in the Church, Catholic that is, the Vatican demands the expulsion from their orders of those who have undergone sex change. Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, has signed a document eliminating any possibility of transsexuals having religious jobs in ecclesiastical orders. Still, according to the text, priests are not allowed to alter Certificates of Baptism to accommodate them to the sex change.

The position of the Holy See about the subject means that the Church has already experienced cases of transsexuality amongst its ranks. “Due to the complexity of the matter, everyone is asked to keep this letter and the Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under strict secrecy and that it should be used exclusively within its institute or religious society, with the proper aim in mind", emphasizes the document which goes on with yet more instructions for the various societies of the Church.

Because the Brazilian Penal Code is from the 1940's and the studies and techniques used in medicine are very recent, there has not been a change in legislation. There is not a law or ruling for the legalization of the surgery from a legal view point, which is detrimental to the transsexual when trying to sort out their papers. There is, however, in the legal profession, people who are specialized in the matter and who have earned preliminary verdicts favorable to post-op transsexuals.

Once all the legal procedures are surpassed, society has the final say. Cases of transsexuals who are fully integrated are very rare. Most times, the contradiction of the physical appearance and the name registered officially closes doors professionally. That is why, for many men and women who have managed to change their appearance "stolen by nature", the only way out is prostitution or, in the best of cases, the entertainment world.

Only a minority will get a satisfactory job and have a love life. Dr. Carlos Abib Cury remarks that “most of the post-op cases display euphoria, elation, which we consider harmful, once life’s difficulties go on despite the sex change. No Prince Charming will turn up and change the life of a transsexual. On the contrary, free from the shackles, he or she will have to work just as hard as the next person," he concludes.

What about the women from the beginning of the story?

I was in hospital for 8 days when I got the operation. It was painful and the time to recuperate was slow. The sense of freedom you have after the surgery is difficult to explain. The dream of a female transsexual is to be operated on. Medicine and science are advanced and they managed to make a dream come true. I feel complete physically. I am proud of being a post-op transsexual because I know how much I struggled to bring awareness to people. The surgery was a great victory. I accept myself. Despite undergoing two other repair surgeries, I do not feel sad. I believe that when I get my papers in order I am going to be more complete and live life better and better." Vivian Proença

After the surgery, I did not have to hide. The anticipation is better than before. Life changes. I was full of prejudice. There were things I would not do. Then I got that and everything gets easier. I got to change my life 360 degrees. Of course you will never reach perfection. I used to say that before the surgery I was on parole, after it, I got freedom. I used to live in a cocoon. Now I am a butterfly. Words cannot Express what I feel.” Fernanda Rodrigues

Today, seven years after the surgery , I'm the happiest person in the world because I'm the body, the soul and the mind of a woman. My biggest pleasure was to feel orgasm and be penetrated. Reaching orgasm is very good. I can say I am very happy.” Amanda Sampaio

Update: Jaqueline Salvador, psychologist at the Hospital de Clinicas updates the numbers: "80 out of 243 patients have undergone sex-reassignment surgery." September 2009.

Brazilian Health to Cover Sex Reassignment Surgery. June 2010.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On When Brazil is in the News | ALL for the Right Reasons

If you've been wondering why our young people have taken to the streets of 11 Brazilian cities, and why some of them have resorted to vandalism (even when it was uncalled for), see below the video presentations, in their own words.

In the words of one such protestor: "The people can't endure this any more. We have taken to the streets to fight for a better future for all of us. (BBC)

On this video:

"The recent uprising that is spurring in Brazil is not an act of unwarranted violence, and it is not gratuitous vandalism; it is the result of what happens when a society is forced to put up with the ludicrous, nonsensical laws that are created to benefit the lawmakers themselves."

And on this one:

 "I'm here to tell you why I'm not going to the World Cup."

And finally:

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On When Brazil is in the News

This Blog jubilantly announces that this is a red-letter date for LGBT citizens in Brazil.

It has emerged that the National Council of Justice in Brazil, which is responsible for the Brazilian judicial system,  has ruled that: "Notaries are prohibited from refusing to recognize the union of same-sex couples" and that they "may not refuse to convert stable unions between same-sex couples into marriage." 

The wonderful news about the decision came early on today and left future brides and grooms all fired up to reclaim those rejected plans they had made to tie the knot.

Now, go here, Freedom to Marry to learn more about the citations above and the convoluted, two-step precess we were subjected to in order to get where we are marriage-wise.

We say: Viva! Actually, we need many Vivas for the bible set was quick to condemn (Are you surprised?) the ruling by saying that this was going to be the "end of Brazil!"

As to the end, we will be waiting lying down... Meanwhile, join us for pie and champagne.

Where else in the world can you find Igualdade?

In the European Union:

1- The Netherlands
2 - Belgium
3 - Spain
4 - Sweden
5 - Portugal
6 - Denmark
7 - Norway
8 - Iceland
9 - France

Elsewhere in the world:

10 - South Africa
11 - New Zealand
12 - Canada

In Latin America:

13 - Argentina
14 - Uruguay
15 - Brazil 

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