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Azeri Transexuals Face Social Stigma

Sex change just the first hurdle as society fails to accept gender reassignment.

By Leyla Leysan in Baku (CRS, IWPR)

Inga Ivanova seems like a normal 23-year-old woman as she sits in central Baku in light make-up, a jumper and jeans, but her story is one rarely heard in Azerbaijan. She was born a boy.

“I felt like a woman in a man’s body ... passers-by used to avoid me. I was never flamboyant, I did not shock people, I tried to hide who I was, that I was breaking away from normal modes of behaviour, but all the same I was different,” she said.

On leaving school, like any young Azeri male, she had to report for military service, and was sent for a hospital examination. Experts declared her unfit to serve in the army, clearing the way for her to do what only 100 or so Azeris had done before her – undergo gender reassignment surgery.

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New Play About Canada’s Prison for Women - Jan 27th, 8pm, Montréal

P4W: Invisible Stories from Canada’s Prison for Women
(a workshop production)

The only building to house Canada’s federally sentenced women was known to inmates and correctional officers simply as “P4W”.  From 1934 to 2000, the Prison for Women received public scrutiny from repeated investigations, and finally a federal inquiry that led to the closure of the then notorious institution.  But the issues that led to its shutting down are far from resolved for the cases of federally sentenced women in Canada.

Life on the inside of Canada’s Prison for Women

Now, ten years later, playwright and director Julia Ainsworth brings a thoughtful and unprecedented play to the lives and daily struggles for these women. In January 2010, Zeitgeist Theatre Collective, in association with Mischief Theatre, will bring audiences beyond the walls of P4W and into the hearts and minds of the women who lived there.

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Reaching the handicapped with HIV prevention in Mozambique

TETE, 11 January 2010 (PlusNews) - Stefania*, 17, who has been wheelchair-bound since being involved in a traffic accident as a child, likes to go to Celso's, a popular bar in Matundo, a suburb of Tete city in northwestern Mozambique.

From her vantage point at Celso's she can see the long line of trucks waiting to cross the Zambezi River on one of the few bridges in the region, making Matundo a busy hub for people and merchandise travelling between the port of Beira and Malawi.

Adult HIV prevalence in Mozambique is 16 percent, but what Stefania knows about the disease she has had to learn through her own observations.

"I come here to relax, and I see lots of girls getting into the trucks," she told IRIN/PlusNews. "Some of them have become pregnant, and two of my neighbours have fallen very ill, so having a lot of lovers can end in disgrace."

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 percent of Mozambique's 20 million inhabitants have some form of disability, but HIV prevention campaigns have so far ignored the fact that young disabled people are also at risk of infection. The Ministry of Health has put the number of HIV-positive handicapped Mozambicans at around 324,000.

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GritTV discusses gender in wake of Amanda Simpson appointment.

Naomi Clark, Julia Serrano & Jules Rosskam join Laura Flanders discuss the impact of gender identity in the public discourse. 

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Why Women's Reproductive Freedom Ensures Our Survival

By Kavita N. Ramdas*

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 8, 2010 (IPS) - Fifteen years ago in Beijing, then first lady, Hillary Clinton, stated firmly, "Women's rights are human rights."  Today, after eight years of non-existent U.S. support for women's reproductive rights, Secretary of State Clinton is reviving women's hopes around the globe by affirming the Obama Administration's support for the International Conference on Population and Development Action Plan.

This historic agreement, signed by 180 nations in Cairo in 1994, outlined a visionary 20-year strategy for making family planning universally available by 2015.

The Cairo declaration saw women's human rights take a quantum leap forward. For the first time, a global consensus acknowledged that the empowerment and economic independence of women and education of girls were integral to meeting global population and development goals. It was the first time that an international document clearly stated that women had the right to determine their own reproduction. Principle 4 of the Action Plan states: "ensuring women's ability to control their own fertility, is a cornerstone of population and development-related programmes."

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The Heart of Polyamory: The Elephant in the Living Room

By Millie Jackson

I continue to be very close with an ex girlfriend. We were partnered in what was my last monogamous relationship.  After four years together, we attended a workshop on polyamory at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  This gave us a context and the vocabulary to begin seriously discussing the prospect of opening our relationship.  Although we agreed that polyamory aligned with our philosophical and spiritual beliefs, we didn’t know how to access the poly life-style.  Our relationship ultimately ended after almost eight years together before we had the opportunity to explore polyamory.

There were ups and downs throughout the break-up.  Since we were financially enmeshed and shared a lease on a house that was our home and our businesses, this process dragged out for an excruciating six months.  This emotionally challenging period eventually led to us taking much needed time apart without any contact.  This was difficult given that we had been not only lovers but best friends, roommates, business associates, and travel companions.  We did everything together--we shared expenses, shared meals, and shared a level of intimacy we had never known before.

arvan's picture

Call for Writers: AQSAzine Issue #3: My Islam

Dear friends, lovers, sisters, allies, revolutionaries

Submit and spread the word about the AQSAzine Issue #3 MY ISLAM "because Allah gave you the right to figure it out"


Because you’ve asked the question “what is my Islam and what does it mean to me?” Because you constantly explore it, navigate it, confront it, take it apart, or reject it. Because you’ve been excluded from it. Because you hold it close, embrace it, own it. Because you’ve been attacked for believing in it. Because you are tired of defending and defining it.
Because you feel Islam has been used misused and abused, helping some gain illegitimate power and others rationalize oppression. Because you feel that despite this, it is a quest for humanity and peace of mind, body, soul that is at its core.
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South African Intersex Criminal Kingpin Interviewed

By Shanaaz Eggington [Times Live]

'I look like a man, I talk like a man, I am a man'

Underworld flabbergasted to discover 'Fat' Murphy is Intersex

On the drug-ravaged streets he's known as Fat Murphy. Feared by many, the burly suspected drug lord is clean-shaven and wears his second wife's name tattooed on his arm.

But the man who was banished from a crime-ridden suburb on the Cape Flats by furious residents protesting against alleged drug dealers has now been unmasked - as a hermaphrodite named Hilary.

Police and the underworld were shocked this week when Fadwaan "Fat" Murphy, 37, stood up in court to face charges of possession of stolen property, and declared under oath that he was born with both male and female sexual organs.

Police claim they discovered Murphy's "true" gender when a strap-on penis fell off while he was being searched during a raid at his Kuils River home two weeks ago.

A visibly upset Murphy was forced to discuss his gender during a bail application in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court in Cape Town.

"I had a vagina that could not be penetrated. But I also had male organs, testes. But I always knew I was really a man and that was what I wanted to be," he told the court. A startled public gallery had to be told by court orderlies to keep quiet, as he dropped the bombshell.

book of blue's picture

Breakfast Camp

This continues a series of posts from events and explorations conducted at Burning Man 2009.

Black Rock City 2009.

I left off my story of my journey across the playa and waking up with Siobhan, and she suggesting that we visit Breakfast Camp.  Then the connection washed through me: moments ago Yasmine was describing my experience walking across the field of desire – my dream image of the playa – where I had seen all my deepest desires and yearnings projected in front of me.  That walk across my own dreamscape.

The thing about Burning Man, the deepest feeling that I’ve taken with me, is that for the impression made by the city and the people and the high voltage vibe, the deep part is the Earth setting of that plateau…a lakebed, embraced by mountains…a small sample of a massive geological lake woven around the mountains, gone but for a few remaining high pH pools…which lay vacant for 10,000 years…a moonscape…and then this trans-human encampment descends on it, with all its noise and color, but the chaos is held in this deeper pool of silence and space…and time…

Siobhan and I walked toward breakfast camp, which turned out to be the haunt of Lucille; whom I had photographed the prior day.  Just yesterday?  It easily felt like I had lived a month between then and now, but I did the logic and it was,  in fact, yesterday.  She often surfaced at Paradise (Poly Paradise, where I was staying); in fact somehow she always seemed to be there.  Others, at other camps, had this impression as well.  Only here, she was called Bliss.  I also found a third camp where she had a third name and seemingly a third reality.

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