Listen

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In time for Transgender Awareness Week, activist Jake Graf unveiled a powerful new short film this week highlighting the struggles of everyday life for trans kids. Listen shows numerous trans teens and the hardships they face, such as bullying, isolation, and more. Read more…

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Scotland to introduce world first queer curriculum in schools

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Scottish ids in are about to get some new lessons about queer people and historical events. Scotland has become the first country to mandate LGBTQ-centred curriculum be taught in its schools. Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney told parliament that the new education initiative will start immediately.

Schools will “teach themes like queer terminology and identities, tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, prejudice in relation to the queer community and promoting awareness of the history of queer equalities and movements.”

“Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe for queer equality,” Swinney said in a press statement. “I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTI inclusive education embedded within the curriculum. Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential. That is why it is vital the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools.”

The Scottish government launched an LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group before making the decision. The group reported back with 33 recommendations and the government has said they will implement them all.

William Beckford

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Few men attained greater celebrity during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries than William Beckford (1760—1844), the wealthiest man in England.

With enormous wealth as his Aladdin’s lamp, he decided to make his Arabian dreams come true. By the time he died at the venerable age of 84, he had built the loftiest domestic residence in the world, had assembled a virtual harem of boys, had his own militia to protect his Fonthill estate of 6,000 acres, had written the first Oriental-Gothic horror novel in English literature, and had become the most scandalous connoisseur of hedonism in the modern world. His society bemusedly tolerated most eccentrics — even nouveau riche ones — but they chose to ostracize this remarkable personality, dubbing him “The Fool of Fonthill.”

Beckford’s father, twice Lord Mayor of London, was the richest man in England, with extensive holdings in the cloth industry, property, government bonds, and sugar plantations. As a result, Beckford received a brilliant education, and was widely learned in French, Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, law, literature and physics by the age of 17.

His private piano teacher was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — at least that is the legend, too romantic to be discouraged. He was being brought up as an empire builder, but his father died when Beckford was only ten, leaving him with no political ambition, and a millionaire’s taste for pleasure

Read on…

Butterfly

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ITV drama Butterfly is a three-part series which follows the uneasy transition of 11-year-old Maxine, who no longer identifies as a boy and wants to transition. This realisation, however, isn’t something which has spawned overnight.

Maxine’s estranged parents, Vicky and Stephen, both believed his desire to dress in pink and wear earrings was a mere ‘phase’ before puberty comes around. The situation has increasingly taken a toll on their marriage, with Stephen violently lashing out over Maxine’s feminine behaviour.

While Butterfly is partially about Max becoming Maxine, it more predominantly, and successfully, taps into how this issue affects the entire family. A standout scene between Vicky and Stephen as they bicker over the right way to handle Maxine’s feelings perfectly illustrates how their confusion has turned into anguish — unknowing of whether major steps, like delaying puberty through medication, is the right call for someone who’s barely started secondary school.

It’s a difficult issue to communicate through a mainstream drama because the situation isn’t as common, or relatable, as something more widespread like having a gay child (which is defiantly addressed here via baffled grandparents). It therefore falls to the struggles of the parents to become the show’s understandable jumping-on point for many — which, through the excellent performances and thoughtful writing, is easily the biggest achievement here.

Butterfly, however, is less successful when it comes to connecting to Maxine herself. While there’s touching moments, like explaining to her mum how she wants to ‘feel like I belong’ in the right bathrooms at school, these are offset by extreme behaviour which feels like it’s prioritising shocks above all else. The sudden switch to Maxine deciding to cut herself, stopping her mum going on a date with another man, felt particularly ill-judged and cheap.

It’s also hard to connect when we rarely see Maxine enjoying private time to explore becoming herself. Aside from the occasional pose in the mirror and cut short Kylie Minogue dance, we aren’t shown a comfortable, fun Maxine where she’s free to be her true identity. Her sister, Lily, however is very likeable as the supporting sibling who helps celebrate Maxine on the playground, despite the smirks from school bullies.

While Butterfly doesn’t always hit the right notes, it’s undeniably a thoughtful and challenging drama of the likes which rarely hits mainstream TV. The remaining episodes will decide how the show will be remembered, but for now, this will be an important lifeline for many families and individuals experiencing the same issues.

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RIP the gender binary

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More and more young people are rejecting the binary and embracing an identity that falls outside traditional gender norms, says new figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

According to research, the number of students who declared their gender as “other” on university forms has more than doubled in the past year. In the past 12 months, in fact, more than 800 students in the UK declined to categorise themselves under the traditional terms of “man” or “woman”, compared to just 395 in the year previous.

King’s College London was among the highest tallies of gender non-conforming students, with other creative institutions such as Glasgow School of Art and Courtauld Institute of Art not far behind. However, the 830 students who prefer to identify as a third, other gender come from a wide cross-section of British universities, with a concentration of the data coming from Strathclyde and Salford too.

The move away from the gender binary is not just confined to university students either. In the past years things which were considered strictly “feminine” — like make-up — are being reclaimed by a generation sick of traditional gender norms. Clothes have followed suit, with an increasingly number of luxury fashion houses offering gender neutral collections rather than the traditional menswear and womenswear.

Those choices are reflected in the day to day lives of queer teenagers, whose sexuality and gender identity are finally becoming less ‘othered’ and more accepted. The change has been welcomed by students both non-binary and cis-gender, and by university staff. Anthony Grayling, who works at New College of the Humanities, told The Times: “People should be completely free to let others know how they like to be thought of and addressed.

“It’s a phenomenon very widespread among people of university age and this is an important time for them to think about who and what they are. They are experimenting with their identity and the important thing is they should be completely free to do that.”

1999

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Have you ever wondered what the iconic scene in Titanic would look like with Troye Sivan and Charli XCX as Jack and Rose? Well, wonder no longer.

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan just released the music video for “1999.” The video continues the song’s heavy ’90s-inspired theme, referencing various pop culture moments, movies, and celebrities, like Britney Spears, Titanic, and The Matrix.

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