Trans kids do just fine if you let them, major study says

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Some things seem to be obvious but in the face of ignorance and hate it can’t hurt to lay out the scientific facts. That’s exactly what a study of trans- and cisgender kids recently did. And they found that that trans kids are indeed the same as any other kids.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers from the University of Washington’found no difference in gender expression between trans and cis kids.

“Trans kids are showing strong identities and preferences that are different from their assigned sex. There is almost no difference between these trans and cisgender kids of the same gender identity — both in how, and the extent to which, they identify with their gender or express that gender,” wrote lead author Selin Gülgöz.

More than 300 trans children aged between three and 12 took part in the study on gender development, the largest of its kind, along with 189 of their cisgender siblings and a further 316 cisgender control subjects.

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Study: young people are more homophobic than older folks

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Queer people are everywhere. When they’re not presiding over whole countries (see Luxembourg and Serbia’s heads of state), they’re dominating the Billboard Hot 100 for months at a time like our boy Lil Nas X. A whole bunch of them are playing pivotal characters in the iconic, Emmy-winning series Pose right now, and are dominating magazine covers too.

Right now, we’re supposedly living in a queer utopia, in which young people’s futures are being nurtured by progressive politics and a new-found acceptance from mainstream culture.

Just a decade ago, the surface-level scenario seemed different. Interpretations of queer people on screen were sanitised, one-dimensional and, more often than not, white. (Friends, for example, didn’t even include a same-sex kiss in their ‘The One with the Lesbian Wedding’ episode).

Meanwhile trans people were either victimised or the butt of a joke; like Lieutenant Lois Einhorn in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. We needed a new wave of liberal young minds to help dismantle those ideals. For the most part, we have them now.

But while the general outlook looks positive — a study commissioned by GLAAD showed that Americans over the age of 72 were more accepting of LGBTQ+ people now than they were just a year ago — the demographic we thought held the key to instigating change in future seem to be the ones most likely to turn their backs on the community instead.

In fact, data gathered by the LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity Gallop found 1 in 4 Britons under the age of 24 thought the community was “immoral”. The same demographic also thought they were a danger to society, or that homosexuality went against their own beliefs. This is compared to one in five people in older age groups given the same survey.

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Homophobia is still a problem in the world of dance

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Earlier this year, “Good Morning America” ran what was supposed to be a cute culture story about the first-grade curriculum of Britain’s Prince George. But when correspondent Lara Spencer mentioned that the 6-year-old boy was studying ballet, she couldn’t suppress her laughter.

As Spencer said, “We’ll see how long that lasts,” co-host George Stephanopolous and most of the studio audience also laughed. Being laughed at for pursuing dance is familiar to almost any boy who studies the art form, especially ballet.

Deidre Tangorra’s 9-year-old son, Julius, has been aggressively bullied for dancing. At school, he’s been put in a chokehold, tripped and tackled while being called “twinkle toes,” “fairy” and other homophobic slurs. He can’t ride the school bus because of other kids spitting on him, according to both Julius and his mother.

“If a boy wants to do something perceived as slightly feminine, they’re perceived as weaker,” Tangorra said. “It’s not about being against dance, it’s machoness.”

Julius had a strong reaction to Spencer’s laughter and comments. “When she said it, I felt bad and angry and embarrassed,” he said. Following the TV host’s controversial remarks, the dance community rallied to the young royal’s defense, and #BoysDanceToo became a trending social media hashtag.

Spencer apologized for her comments and interviewed three male dancers who discussed their careers and experiences with bullying. Yet, the issue of men being perceived as feminine never came up in their discussion and neither did sexual orientation nor gender identity. The subtext of the apology was that Spencer erred in saying that male dancers aren’t masculine, but not that it’s wrong to laugh at men who have a feminine side.

Many in the dance community felt it was a missed opportunity to address the root of the stigma male dancers deal with — homophobia and misogyny — especially because these exist within the dance world as well.

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Photos: Kirill Sokolovsky

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American Psychological Association endorses use of singular “They” pronoun

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The American Psychological Association (APA) now endorses the use of “they” as a singular pronoun. They are the latest major organization to provide style guidelines around “they,” meaning that scholars, writers, and scientists will be mandated to use they/them pronouns when needed within their professional and educational fields.

It’s just one step towards the legitimization and standardization of the singular “they” pronoun, validating those who use it as a gender-neutral option within a major medical context.

“This means it is officially good practice in scholarly writing to use the singular ‘they,’” APA’s Content Development Manager Chelsea Lee writes in an APA Style blog post. Style and grammar guidelines for use of the singular “they” now appear in the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the APA Style website.

APA is America’s largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists, with over 118,000 members. Its Publication Manual is followed by a vast amount of professionals, educators, and scholars, who work in the social or behavioral sciences, medical field, and other related fields.

APA Style would have previously accepted the use of the phrase “he or she” to indicate a gender-neutral subject; for example: “A person should enjoy his or her vacation.” But Lee writes that this usage “presumes that a person uses either the pronoun ‘he’ or the pronoun ‘she,’” which might not always be the case since some people use other pronouns such as “they,” “zir,” “ze,” and “xe,” among others. “When readers see a gendered pronoun, they make assumptions about the gender of the person being described,” Lee writes. “APA advocates for the singular ‘they’ because it is inclusive of all people and helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender.”

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The rise of young adult books with LGBTQ characters

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When Amy Rose Capetta started writing her young adult novel “Echo After Echo,” she wasn’t sure if it would be embraced by the publishing industry.

Though she had already published two books, “Echo After Echo” was different: The mystery, set on Broadway in New York, features a romance between two teenage girls. As she searched for a publisher, Capetta, 34, said she was never explicitly told to tone down her characters’ sexuality, but she did wonder if editors who said they were “not able to connect” with the characters were really saying that the same-sex relationship might not appeal to straight readers.

“I wrote ‘Echo After Echo’ in breathless fear that I was tanking the career I’d been dreaming of and working toward,” she said. “That story took three years, which is a long time to be breathless.”

Yet instead of diminishing her career, “Echo After Echo,” which was published in 2017, did the opposite. It was a Junior Library Guild selection and established Capetta, who identifies as queer, as an LGBTQ young adult author. She’s scheduled to have three books published in 2019.

The market for YA books featuring protagonists who identify as LGBTQ is growing, as publishers and authors tap a rising demand among young readers for a broader diversity of characters and storylines.

Publishers including Simon & Schuster and Alfred A. Knopf said they do not track the number of YA books with LGBTQ protagonists, but they have observed an increase in the genre over the last few years.

“In years past, you would see a concentration of distribution in the institutional and education markets, as well as independent stores,” Justin Chanda, vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, wrote in an emailed statement. “Today, there are many, many books featuring LGBTQ+ characters being published in various genres that are being carried in large numbers by all accounts.”

Some of those books — including works by Amber Smith, Christina Lauren and Tim Federle — have become best-sellers. Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s 2012 book “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” — a story about two Mexican-American boys navigating family relationships, race and sexuality — has been one of the Simon & Schuster’s best-selling backlist titles for the past several years, Chanda said.

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