What good Sex Ed looks like

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Jansrud is a Norwegian celebrity and the 29-year-old host of the state-funded educational TV series Newton on Norway’s NRK TV. Recently, Newton aired a segment on puberty featuring Jansrud frankly discussing (and demonstrating) such topics as French kissing, masturbation, and how to give a hickey.

The segment begins with Jansrud explaining that puberty “gives you a new body that can make children if you have sex—otherwise known as fucking, screwing, shagging, getting it on, or making love”.  Jansrud then demonstrates where the clitoris and the sensitive nerves on the penis are located, on both live and rubber models.

“Now, what everyone starts with sooner or later, but rarely talks about, stroking your own sex parts. To masturbate,” she says. “Both the clitoris of the girl and the head of the penis on a boy is full of nerves that make it pleasant to touch.”

She then lubricates the vagina before demonstrating penetrative sexual intercourse on the rubber models, as well as how to use a condom. “For it to be pleasant, it’s vital that the vagina be moist enough,” she explains.”For the woman, you also have to rub the clitoris.”

Jansrud caps off the segment by showing viewers her pregnant belly. She found out she was pregnant on the air in February, and she plans to turn her pregnancy into a recurring segment on the series in the coming months.

This isn’t the first time that Newton has taken such a frank and educational approach to sex. Last month, the series landed in hot water on Facebook when the social network deleted a clip of Jansrud demonstrating where the uterus and fallopian tubes are located on a woman’s body by painting the organs on a naked model’s skin. Another clip showed Jansrud explaining menstruation by filming the blood trickling down a live model’s legs.

Such a straightforward approach to sex education seems to be par for the course in Nordic countries. Back in January, a Swedish TV children’s cartoon segment featuring a dancing penis and vagina went viral. The video featured the lyrics “Here comes the penis at full pace” and “the vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady.”

Unsurprisingly, Newton’s latest segment has been heavily criticized on a handful of foreign blogs, whose writers seem to think the segment is borderline pornographic and prurient. This is despite the fact that Jansrud also touches on such important issues as homosexuality, the age of consent, and the need to use contraceptives. She’s also quick to assure teens that “there’s no need to rush into having sex. It’ll happen soon enough.”

Yet sex-positive Norwegian commenters are applauding Jansrud for speaking about issues, like masturbation and penetrative sex, so frankly. “Great series, that I would like should have seen when I was in school!” one commenter wrote, while another chimed in: “I am genuinely proud of the fact that Norway is leading the way here. Stand on!”

Perhaps other countries should take a page out of Jansrud’s book and take a similarly frank approach to sex ed, or maybe we wouldn’t have things like chlamydia epidemics at public high schools in America to deal with.

Trans Nightmares

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Transgender Europe, a Berlin-based organization working on inclusion of transgender people throughout Europe, recently released a powerful video as a part of their #TransNightmare campaign.

The video portrays the nightmare that transgender people still face today in 34 countries in Europe [PDF]. Prior to changing name or gender in official documents, people in these countries must undergo forced sterilization, file for divorce, and/or receive a diagnosis or psychiatric opinion.

Transgender Europe works to change the situation for transgender people by:

  • Campaigning: In 2014, they launched the Europe-wide Access All Areas! Recognition Opens Doors campaign, calling for quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition.
  • Educating: They publish and share information and campaign materials, like this video or the Trans Rights Europe Map, to raise awareness about the problems with legal gender recognition. Learn more.
  • Changing laws: They inform politicians and policy makers about the problems with legal gender recognition and work with them to create better laws in Europe. Learn more.
  • Supporting the trans community: They work with and train transgender organizations across Europe to help them create political change at the country level. Learn more.

Many transgender Americans face the same struggles. Right now 32 states lack explicit protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The levels of violence and harassment transgender people face in the United States constitute a national crisis.

Hate as a Business Model

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Freedom is a precious thing but some people have a rather peculiar idea of what exactly freedom is. For them freedom means they should be free to decide who they can discriminate against, who they can bully, whose freedom they can take away.

Recently several US states introduced so called “religious freedom” bills that were supposedly meant to make sure that the citizens of those states can practise their religions freely. This becomes a problem though when someone’s religion says that being Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Transgender is wrong, a sin even. In that case these bills enable religious people and businesses to discriminate against queer people so we end up with less, not more, freedom.

“Critics of religious freedom laws need perspective, at least gays aren’t executed” — US Senator Tom Cotton

Maybe even worse are cynical business owners who take this opportunity to make a quick buck with their hate for queer folks. Like the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana who received a mind-boggling $800,000 in donations for their public statement that they would not cater pizzas for a gay wedding–as if any of us would have a taste bad enough to consider pizzas as an option for a wedding anyway. All thanks to a donation rally on the website GoFundMe. On the same website fundraisers for cancer patients and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing received a lot less money.

In other states refusing to serve customers based on their sexual orientation is still not legal but that doesn’t keep some business owners from turning their hate into cash. A florist in Washington who didn’t want to have anything to do with the queers was fined $1,000 but is now $100,000 richer after asking for donations.

The Gender Spectrum finally becomes Mainstream

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Young people are more likely to believe gender exists on a spectrum, according to a new study. 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 34 were surveyed on gender, with half believing the binary categories of male and female are too limiting.

They were asked: ‘Some countries, including India, recognize a gender that is neither male nor female. Which more closely aligns with your view?’ Options were ‘There are only two genders, male and female’, which in total received 46% support, ‘Gender is a spectrum, and some people fall outside conventional categories’, which received 50%, and 4% answered ‘Don’t know’.

The poll found 57% of female millenials believe gender falls on a spectrum compared to 44% of male respondees. Northeast 18-34 year olds were even more progressive, with 58% agreeing with that statement compared to the South where that number fell to 42%.

The survey comes as more people are coming out as genderfluid and genderqueer, universities offering gender-neutral identity cards & housing options that include ‘other gender-identity room-mate pairings, regardless of biological sex’ and gender-neutral restrooms becoming more and more common.

via Gay Star News, photos by Thiago Antonucci

Shadow Sex – Boy, Girl & Beyond

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In November, 18-year-old Sasha Fleischman was set on fire by a teenager after falling asleep during the bus ride home. The assault resulted in third-degree burns and several surgeries. Sasha’s “crime”? Presenting as a boy while dressing in traditionally feminine clothing.

Born Luke Fleischman, the American teen wore a skirt for the first time to school sophomore year. Soon after, Fleischman started questioning the binary definitions of gender, and has since identified as agender, preferring to use the pronouns “they” and “them.”

Fleischman’s story made national headlines and led to a broader conversation about gender-identity issues. Now the teen, who expressed hope that their 16-year-old attacker would not be prosecuted as an adult, was also featured in a photo project by LA-based photographer Chloe Aftel.

Hoping to raise awareness of this diverse, often-overlooked community, San Francisco magazine published Aftel’s photos in an attempt to shed light on what it means to be a gender-fluid teen in the wake of Fleischman’s attack.

genderqueer-sasha

Comprised mostly of young people, the San Franciscans in the series use umbrella terms like “genderqueer” and “nonbinary,” Rachele Kanigel explained in San Francisco magazine’s story accompanying the photo series. “This growing community encompasses people who see themselves as agender (neither male nor female), bi-gender (both genders) and gender-fluid (shifting from male to female).”

But the agender community shares more than just an affinity for plural pronouns. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the most extensive study of its kind, 78% of gender non-conforming people face harassment at school, 90% suffer mistreatment at work and 53% experience being verbally disrespected in a public place.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice at every turn: in childhood homes, in school systems that promise to shelter and educate, in harsh and exclusionary workplaces, at the grocery store, the hotel front desk, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, health care workers and other service providers,” the report says.

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Micah, who identifies as neutrois (or genderless), was also profiled in the photo series. “I’m not a femme boy or a butch girl — I am too butch to be femme, too femme to be butch,” Micah explained in a blog post. “It’s not embracing both sides, or one side; it’s embracing neither. It’s not an absence of gender, and it’s not not-caring about my gender. Quite the contrary — I care very strongly about my gender, my gender expression, and my gender perception. I have a gender, and it’s a neutral gender.”

By documenting these expressions of gender in her intimate photo project, Aftel explores what it feels and looks like to push the boundaries of binary. Her photos, often taken in meaningful, personal settings, are a rejection of the idea that genderqueer people are gender-confused.

“They have a real strength of character and complete clarity about who they are,” Aftel told Vocativ. “I found it fascinating that there is this whole group of people galvanizing the debate about what gender is, and to a certain extent, what love is and what self-expression is. It’s about what works for you.”

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“I classify myself as nonbinary,” Finley Terhune, a 24-year-old graduate student, told San Francisco magazine. “To me that means not male and not female, but not having no gender either.” Terhune, who prefers the gender-neutral pronouns “en,” “ens,” and “enself,” “wasn’t as open at first, but gradually, that became more and more uncomfortable.”

The idea was that while coming out is difficult, it ultimately raises awareness of a complicated and relatively unknown identity shared by many of the series’ subjects.

“I think a lot of people like to see gender as this scale of blue and pink,” Emma, a 20-year-old college student, told the magazine. “I never really identified with either side of that, or even in between blue and pink. It’s so much more complicated — my identity varies so much on any given day. Sometimes I tell people I’m gold or something.”

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via mic.com