Coming Out with PowerPoint

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Coming out to friends and family can be a hurdle, but coming out to a group of strangers in a public setting is another feat entirely. That didn’t keep Benton Sorensen from coming out as transgender during a class presentation about inspiration. After showing a picture on the overhead projector of a young girl with a pretty smile and long, light brown hair, Sorensen confidently shares his story of female-to-male transitioning with a classroom full of strangers.

Our society places an incredible amount of pressure on all of us to fit its predetermined heteronormative standards of sexuality, sometimes making it difficult for any person on the queer qpectrum to find a voice. But Sorensen’s experiences shared in both his class PowerPoint as well as on his YouTube vlog make him a fearless proponent for trans education and acceptance. “Our professor assigned us an ‘inspiration’ project,” he writes in the video’s description. “We had the freedom to do whatever we wanted with it, so I thought it was a great opportunity to come out to my new class and tell them that I am a female to male transgender.”

It got better

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As a kid, transgender icon Janet Mock felt like her gender identity was policed by those around her. In a recent video for the “It Got Better” project, Mock explained what it was like to grow up as a gender-nonconforming child in Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California, and discussed the obstacles she faced as she began to live authentically as a young trans girl.

Watch the video for some heartfelt advice for young trans people.

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.

Swallow Troye’s Happy Little Pill

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Teen idol Troye Sivan had a Hollywood gig at age 13, a lead role opposite John Cleese at 14 and a recording contract on his 18th birthday – all after a career “failure” at 12. How, exactly?

To most shoppers out at Perth’s Murray Street Mall, 19-year-old Troye Sivan probably looks like any other local teenager – albeit an elvishly pretty one – out running errands with his mum and little brother. But to girls of a certain age (say, 12 to 17), Sivan seems to exist on a different plane altogether. Sporting his trademark quiff and oversized T-shirt promoting Tumblr, he could be a good 100 metres away and still the girls somehow sense him, the way birds detect unseen disturbances in their immediate environment.

Soon enough – in Topshop and City Beach; outside Fossil and the newsagency – Sivan is surrounded by teenage girls in the process of thoroughly losing their minds. To be fair, most of them are lovely and sane, asking Sivan to pose with them in selfies before running off for a private group squeal. But on other days, Sivan’s fans have proper, pituitary-induced meltdowns. Some scream at his face point blank, while others shed hot, silent tears.

Last Halloween, fans tracked down Sivan’s home address and waited outside the front door, calling out tauntingly, “Trick or treee-eeat?” Troye’s younger brother Tyde – who has a face that belongs in Dolly magazine and is fast becoming famous in his own right – deadpans that it was more like “Troye or Tyyy-yyde?” The brothers spent the evening hiding indoors, held hostage in their own home. Later, Sivan tells me that this kind of behaviour is why he avoids being near local schools after 4pm. Sivan’s mother, Laurelle, adds that she’s in the process of having their home de-listed from the White Pages.

Read on…

Stay Weird

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Graham Moore gave a very candid speech while accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, a film about gay codebreaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing.

”When I was 16 years old I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong, and now I’m standing here,” he said on stage Sunday night. ”I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along.”