‘Hard work’ got first trans government employee to where she is today in India

'Hard work' got first trans government employee to where she is today in India

Sanjana Singh | Supplied The first trans woman to land a public service job in an Indian state is no stranger to adversity

Sanjana Singh became the first trans government employee in the central state, Madhya Pradesh, after she landed a role as the personal secretary Director of Social Justice and Disabled Person’s Welfare. Madhya Pradesh is also home to the first elected trans politician. In 1998, people voted Shabnam Bano to the State Legislative Assembly.

Forced to leave home at 15, Singh has spent her life hustling to get where she is today.

‘I just feel my hard work paid off,’ she told the Deccan Chronicle.

Working to help other women and improve her community has been a life ambition for Singh. She was the the first paralegal volunteer of the District Legal Authority.

‘The welfare of society was what I was interested in. I later worked for an NGO for over a year,’ she said.

‘My work has been focused on making society accept the transgender community.’

Singh wants to ensure trans people can get access to education and employment.

‘I want our community to get job reservation,’ she said.

‘The opportunity to people should be given who are willing to work. It should be an option for the community because if everyone has a job, then after a certain point of time, the transgender community will lose its culture of what they do now – performing at weddings and visiting homes of newborns.’

The altruist had some words of advice for parents of LGBTI children. Singh told them to accept their LGBTI children as they are and not to try to change them.

While conditions for trans people slowly improve in India, the marginalized trans community warned they remained at risk .

This Illinois bill could punish doctors who provide transition-related medical care

This Illinois bill could punish doctors who provide transition-related medical care

The Youth Health Prevention Act would penalize doctors providing transition-related care to transgender youth (Photo by Ted Eytan)

A new bill introduced to the Illinois legislature would punish medical professionals assisting trans youth in their transition-related care. The Bill

Republican Representative Tom Morrison introduced the bill, titled the Youth Health Prevention Act .

The Act ‘provides that a medical doctor shall not prescribe, provide, administer, or deliver puberty-suppressing drugs or cross-sex hormones and shall not perform [surgeries] on biologically healthy and anatomically normal persons under the age of 18 for the purpose of treating the subjective, internal psychological condition of gender dysphoria or gender discordance.’

The bill also ‘Provides that any efforts to modify the anatomy, physiology, or biochemistry of a biologically healthy person under the age of 18… shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall be subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board. Provides that no medical doctor or mental health provider shall refer any person under the age of 18 to any medical doctor for chemical or surgical interventions to treat gender dysphoria.’

In addition, it seeks to amend the Medical Practice Act of 1987 to make these changes.

If a doctor does provide any of the aforementioned treatments to trans youth, they could risk losing their medical license. Reactions

‘It’s trying to get in between a medical professional, parents, and their children. They’re basically trying to do that because of somebody’s identity,’ Miles Brandy Davis, communications manager and press secretary for Equality Illinois, told ThinkProgress.

‘We’re going down a slippery slope if we’re going to allow a lawmaker to discriminate against somebody because of their identity. What if somebody decided he just doesn’t like people with cancer? Are we going to stand in between them and accessing care? It just blows my mind that a bill like that was even introduced.’

Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago opposed the bill and sent out the following statement:

‘Many of our patients develop anxiety or depression due to the severity of their distress. These young people find a tremendous amount of relief from the medical services that we provide. Through the use of medical and surgical interventions, their bodies begin to align more closely with their identities. And they are able to focus their mental energy on normal, healthy parts of adolescence. Like their studies, relationship building, developing goals for the future, and blossoming into independent adults.’

According to Joshua Safer, executive director for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai, it would be a breach of medical ethics to fail to treat patients according to standard guidelines.

Safer told ThinkProgress that this type of bill is ‘problematic.’ Why it matters

Trans people and experts on transition-related care believe access to proper treatments can be a matter of life or death. In the past, trans people have died using illegal silicone injections due to the lack of professional guidance. Additionally, the mental health of transgender people is put at risk when they are unable to access the necessary treatments.

A 2018 study showed 51% of trans male adolescents, 30% of trans female adolescents, and 42% of nonbinary youth attempted suicide.

‘By contrast, transgender individuals who have treatment provided as needed have mental health concerns closer to what we see in the general population,’ Safer said. ‘It appears that transgender individuals who seek medical intervention have fewer mental health concerns when that treatment can be provided earlier. That includes patients doing better when they’re able to be treated at younger ages.’

The Youth Health Prevention Act is currently in the Informed Consent subcommittee. However, Davis does not expect it to pass. Still, the introduction of this kind of bill sets a worrisome precedent.

‘Transgender youth face stigma and ignorance throughout their lives. [They] are often forced to forego medically-necessary care for fear of how their parents, their school, or their peers might react,’ Gillian Branstetter of National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) told ThinkProgress. ‘This bill does nothing but add to that pain by rejecting the overwhelming consensus of the medical and childcare community that transgender youth should be validated, believed, and loved.’ See Also:

Parkfield Community School LGBT protests: School denies ‘U-turn’

Parkfield Community School LGBT protests: School denies 'U-turn'

Assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat created the No Outsiders programme A school which has suspended lessons about LGBT rights and homophobia following protests from parents has denied the move is a U-turn.

Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock, Birmingham, has seen protests over its No Outsiders project.

It said it was always the plan for the classes to stop at half-term.

But, it added, there is a need for discussions between teachers and parents about the curriculum and how it should be delivered in the future.

A spokesperson for the school – which has about 740 pupils aged three to 11 – told the BBC the No Outsiders programme is still an integral part of its ethos.

They said it was always in the curriculum plan to use the remainder of the term for religious education. About 100 people gathered outside the school gates for a demonstration in February The project was developed by assistant head Andrew Moffat in 2014, with the aim to educate children to accept differences in society.

As well as LGBT issues, it teaches about race, religion, gender identity, age and disabilities. Latest news from the West Midlands

But it has faced criticism from some Muslim parents for teaching children about same-sex couples.

Parents said the classes are not appropriate for young children and have staged protests claiming hundreds of pupils were kept home from lessons on Friday.

Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill, who was present at a recent meeting between the school and parents, said he has asked the Secretary of State to meet with families. "Hundreds" of pupils skip Birmingham school in LGBT row The school said it will hold talks with concerned parents over the remainder of the school term about the teaching of The Equality Act 2010. You may also be interested in:

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In a letter detailing plans , it encouraged parents to ask their children what No Outsiders is about, saying "the children are very clear there is no focus on one aspect of equality, rather No Outsiders teaches that everyone is welcome".

It also said, in light of new government legislation to make relationships education compulsory in primary schools from September 2020, it will be consulting with parents to develop its policy and curriculum on the subject. Parents have held a number of protests over their concerns about the No Outsiders programme Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook , on Twitter , and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Illinois House votes to require LGBT history curriculum be taught in schools

Illinois House votes to require LGBT history curriculum be taught in schools

Lawmakers in the Illinois state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a plan that includes historical figures in the LGBT civil rights movement in K-12 textbooks, NPR reported .

The measure, which now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) desk for a signature, requires schools to include "the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State" in official textbooks.

Supporters of the rule say the measure is intended to reduce anti-LGBT bullying in schools by teaching students about the historical place of LGBT figures in American society.

"We think all students are better off when we teach them the full breadth of history," Brian Johnson, the CEO of the LGBT organization Equality Illinois, said of the bill last year. "It makes them more likely to understand that a diverse cast has contributed to our society."

The measure previously passed the state Senate by a vote of 34-18 last May.

Some Republicans in the state’s legislature opposed the bill’s passage, questioning why it was relevant to include history about LGBT figures in children’s textbooks.

“Here’s what parents in my district said, ‘How or why is a historical figures’ sexuality or gender self -identification even relevant? Especially. when we’re talking about kindergarten and elementary school history,’ " state Rep. Tom Morrison (R) said, according to NPR.

The bill was also opposed by some conservative Christian organizations who accused Democrats of trying to "normalize" LGBT Americans.

"The left’s motive is what it always is: It is to normalize homosexuality," said Laurie Higgins with the Illinois Family Institute, a Christian organization, last year.

Parents’ row over LGBT lessons in Parkfield could herald a wider argument

Parents’ row over LGBT lessons in Parkfield could herald a wider argument

Protesters address the crowd outside Parkfield community school (Photo: SWNS) On a bright spring morning in Birmingham, hundreds of parents could be found milling around the gates of their children’s primary school. But this was not the usual hubbub of drop-off time: this was a protest sparked by a row about teaching LGBT sexuality and gender equality.

Around 600 children aged four to 11 were withdrawn from the city’s Parkfield Community School this month over the “No Outsiders” programme in a series of weekly demonstrations by parents.

“Stop confusing our children,” read one banner tied to railings at the school, which has been subject to weekly protests, with parents claiming it is promoting gay and transgender lifestyles. “My child, my right,” read another.

In January, more than 300 parents at the school, which is 98 per cent Muslim, signed a petition calling for the lessons to be dropped from the curriculum.

The “No Outsiders” project was created by assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, who was awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education in 2017.

i told in December how Mr Moffat, who has written several books on equality and teaching, was one of three British teachers named among the 50 best in the world after being shortlisted for the Varkey Foundation Global Teaching Prize, which has a prize of $1m. His website says the project’s aim is to teach children about the Equality Act 2010 and British values, prepare children for a life in modern Britain and “create a positive school ethos where everyone feels they belong”. Outstanding – and exempt

Parkfield was rated outstanding in 2016 and is thus exempt from routine inspections, but Ofsted arranged a monitoring visit after concerns were raised over the school leadership.

Birmingham City Council said earlier this month following the protests at the school that Birmingham was a city “built on diversity” and “celebrated difference as a strength”. It urged parents and the school to “come together in the spirit of co-operation in the best interests of the children”.

Just this week, inspectors backed the school, saying there was “no evidence” that the education and equalities curriculum “focuses disproportionately on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues and that this work is not taught in an age-appropriate manner”.

They recommended the school “further develop” its engagement with parents so they all have a “clear understanding of the school’s policies and procedures, the curriculum content and how it is taught”.

The school said on Wednesday that it was working with the Regional Schools Commissioner to “find a solution” that will support the children to continue their education “in a harmonious environment. Until a resolution has been reached, ‘No Outsiders’ lesssons will not be taught at Parkfield and we hope that children will not be removed from school to take part in protests.” ‘Nothing to do with diversity’

Parent Mariam Ahmed stages a protest outside Parkfield community school (Photo: SWNS) But Amir Ahmed, a leading member of the parents’ campaign, says the protest is about families “holding a different moral position” to those being taught at the school. “The material that is being taught has nothing to do with diversity,” he says. “It’s about asking four-year-olds to change their moral position on sexual relationships.

“The school should know the local community and its values. There is no intolerance here, but the community has strong values and a conservative attitude towards sexuality. The school should have known parents would never approve of this. It feels as though the children are being indoctrinated to accept a moral viewpoint. It’s not acceptable to us. It has nothing to do with the Equality Act, it is about proselytising four-year-olds who can’t say anything back.”

The row at Parkfield has raised concerns about a larger backlash against schools when new guidance on relationships and sex education comes into force next year. Primary schools will have to educate children about different kinds of relationships and family structures.

A Department for Education document published last month, says: “The content must be age and developmentally appropriate, provide schools with the flexibility to deliver the subjects in a way that will be most beneficial for their pupils, and be delivered in schools in a way that engages parents and recognises that they are the primary teachers of their children.” LGBT bullying

In 2017, the Stonewall School Report highlighted that anti-LGBT bullying and language had decreased across Britain’s schools. But it added that almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying at school and more than two in five trans young people have tried to take their own life.

Just one in five LGBT pupils has been taught about safe sex in same-sex relationships, it revealed.

A Government Equalities Office report said the UK’s education system is failing to prepare LGBT young people for later life and that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is a problem that still needs to be tackled.

“It’s really important to emphasise that this isn’t about promoting a particular sexuality or gender identity,” says Professor Jonathan Glazzard, an academic at Leeds Beckett University, whose research focuses on the experiences of learners who identify as LGBTQ. “It is about educating children to develop inclusive values, which are essential for when they go into secondary school, college, university and the world of work, where they will encounter diversity. Respecting views

“Schools have a legal duty under the Equality Act to educate them about these issues. Parents need to understand it isn’t about trying to convert children to be gay – it’s about respecting difference.

It should never be about a school challenging people’s moral values. It should be about promoting that culture of respect and understanding people have different points of view.

“We need to respect people’s views, but this is a legal issue as well. In the new relationships and sex education guidance published by the Department for Education, there is a very clear message that children need to be taught about different kinds of lifestyles.”

Rainbow Rage: Kyrgyz Rail Against LGBT After Central Asia’s ‘First’ Gay-Pride March

Rainbow Rage: Kyrgyz Rail Against LGBT After Central Asia's 'First' Gay-Pride March

Human rights activists were quick to defend the Women’s Day march and excoriate deputies for their remarks. What many consider the first gay-pride march ever held in Central Asia has unleashed a storm of controversy in Kyrgyzstan, with threats of violence against participants, counterprotests, and fiery parliamentary debate over whether to rein in civil society.

The peaceful march by some 400 people in central Bishkek on Women’s Day on March 8 promoting women’s rights and "equality for all" was fiercely criticized by socially conservative lawmakers in the predominantly Muslim country.

"The men who do not want to have children and the girls who do not want to pour tea…must not only be cursed, they must be beaten," Kyrgyz parliament deputy Jyldyz Musabekova wrote on Facebook of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) supporters who took part in the march in the Kyrgyz capital, with several of them carrying rainbow flags.

"We have to beat the craziness out of them," she added. "Are there any decent guys out there [willing to do that]?"

She warned later during a March 13 debate in parliament that "if we sit silently…Kyrgyzstan will become a ‘Gayistan.’" Kyrgyz parliament deputy Jyldyz Musabekova: "We have to beat the craziness out of them." Musabekova’s comments were harshly criticized by some parliament members and on social media but echoed in gentler terms by other deputies.

Deputy Ziyadin Zhamaldinov said that in allowing the march to take place Kyrgyzstan had "disgraced" itself in front of neighboring countries. No women’s marches were held in any of the four other Central Asian states.

Zamaldinov’s colleague, Ainuru Altybaeva, said the march had "damaged" the concept of the traditional family.

Such comments are emblematic of a deep societal division within Kyrgyzstan, the region’s only democracy and arguably its most progressive country.

‘Very Proud’

Human rights activists were quick to defend the Women’s Day march and excoriate deputies for their remarks.

"We are not offended by this parliament — these deputies have in past years expressed even more absurd ideas," rights activist Tolekan Ismailova said.

"I think it’s very cool that the LGBT community came on the march, because this is also related to the rights of women if we are talking about lesbians and transgender girls who face tremendous violence in Kyrgyzstan," said Bektour Iskender, the founder of the popular Kloop.kg website and a participant in the march.

"This is part of the women’s rights movement — it’s impossible to separate them. And I’m very proud of Kyrgyzstan that this has become possible here."

Iskender added that it wasn’t the only time that supporters of sexual minorities in Kyrgyzstan had been taking part in the women’s march — only that this was the first time opponents of the LGBT community had noticed.

"I urge people in Kyrgyzstan to stop being afraid of LGBT people — they’re also part of our society," he said. "I think that parliament deputies would also do well to get some kind of education in the field of human rights, because they’re saying some very uneducated things."

30 Or 40?

Bektour told RFE/RL that this year’s women’s march had more participants than in previous years because of actions by the nationalist 40 Warriors (Kyrk Choro) organization, which had made threats to marchers and city officials allowing the event to be held.

City officials initially tried to discourage organizers from the Bishkek Feminist Initiatives (BFD) from holding the march, saying that it could cause traffic jams and lead to confrontations.

But the BFD was undeterred.

"The city police told us that for ‘security reasons’ you should not go out because members of Kyrk Choro could ‘come and do something,’" BFD representative Gulaiym Aiylchy said. "We told them that despite your warnings we will still come out [and march]."

While there were 40 Warriors members present at the march, they didn’t directly interfere with the procession. However, they are accused of making threats to female activists and others who attended.

Rights activist Rita Karasartova, political analyst and former government deputy minister Edil Baisalov, and ex-lawmaker Ravshan Jeenbekov also said they had been intimidated or threatened for taking part in the march.

40 Warriors was also criticized for the behavior of its leader, Zamirbek Kochorbaev, who was accused of intimidating Mira Tokusheva, a march organizer, during a public TV program on March 11 in which he said he had the organizers’ "addresses." Kyrk Choro leader Zamirbek Kochorbaev addresses media in Bishkek on March 11. 40 Warriors called on March 11 for Bishkek Mayor Aziz Surakmatov to resign for permitting the march, and two days later the nationalist group held a counterprotest in front of parliament, warning its members that it and its "thousands" of supporters would take action if lawmakers did not.

Only about 30 people attended the nationalist group’s rally. "We propose that 40 Warriors rename themselves," Iskender said, "to 30 di**heads."

Sociologist and anthropologist Altyn Kapalova said the statements by deputy Musabekova on social media and in the parliament may have violated the law.

"What Musabekova wrote can be regarded as a violation of the fundamental rights of every Kyrgyz citizen," she said. "It is not just rudely expressed, but also calls on other people to commit violence. To this we must not just respond but bring to justice."

Blaming NGOs

The debate in parliament on March 13 included the national security agency deputy chairman, Orozbek Opumbaev, who said he "shared" deputies’ concerns about the participation of LGBT members in the Women’s Day march.

He told the deputies it was "necessary" to pass a law similar "to what was adopted in Russia" that would monitor the finances of NGOs — a reference to the controversial "foreign agents" law passed in Russia in 2012.

"This is the main problem — that the financing [of NGOs] goes unchecked," he said. "In particular, on LGBT [groups]. How much money comes in [from abroad]?" he asked. "If we pass this law we have control."

For activist Ismailova, the idea is a nonstarter for Kyrgyzstan, where there are more than 14,000 registered NGOs.

"To those who say that NGOs should be checked, I would say: Read the constitution! NGOs openly show where they get funding from, provide all reports, and pay taxes," she said. "The companies of [some parliament] deputies do not pay as much taxes as we do."

Written by Pete Baumgartner based on reporting by RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service correspondents Ernist Nurmatov, Eleonora Beyshenbek Kyzy, and Kasym Rakhmankulov, and Current Time

8 LGBTI wrestlers smashing stereotypes and changing the wrestling game

8 LGBTI wrestlers smashing stereotypes and changing the wrestling game

LGBTI wrestlers from left to right – Dave Marshall (@davemarshall89), Sonya Deville (@sonyadevillewwe), Darren Young (@realfredrosser) and Nyla Rose (@nylarosebeast). | Photos: Instagram Like most competitive sports, seeing openly LGBTI wrestlers can be a rare occurrence.

But that’s all slowly changing.

There are a handful of LGBTI wrestlers making waves in the wrestling game, smashing stereotypes and living their lives out and proud.

These eight LGBTI wrestlers are showing the world how it’s done: 1. Sonya Deville

Sonya Deville (real name Daria Rae Berenato) is an American professional wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) SmackDown brand, although she started out in Raw.

The 25-year-old wrestler made her professional wrestling debut in December 2015 in WWE’s developmental brand NXT.

In 2017, she formed a trio with wrestlers Mandy Rose and Paige, known as Absolution.

Although Paige retired from wrestling in April 2018, Deville still wrestles alongside Mandy Rose. She’s also competed in big wrestling events, like Royal Rumble and Survivor Series. Deville came out as a lesbian on national television four years ago during a televised Tough Enough competition.

‘Mandy and I were both on the show,’ she recalled to Sky Sports . ‘During the preliminary taping of the first premiere episode, they asked me if I was in a relationship.

‘I had a girlfriend at the time,’ she said.

Deville then explained: ‘I thought “What do I do… well, tell the truth, right?” So I said, “Yeah, I have a girlfriend, but she’s not my wife yet”.

‘I got nervous, and they all started smiling.

‘I said “Oh my god, I just came out on national television”. And Triple H replied “Yeah you did!”

On why coming out is important , she said: ‘If you’re scared to do it, my advice would be do it, because it was the best thing that ever happened.’ 2. Dave Marshall

Dave Marshall made international headlines in November last year when Gay Star News broke the story of his charity fundraising efforts.

Marshall is a personal trainer and openly gay wrestler from Perth, Australia.

He started his wrestling career in 2015, at the age of 26. He now wrestles for Perth-based wrestling company Southern Hemisphere Wrestling Alliance.

Marshall initially came out as bisexual to his now ex-girlfriend at the age of 23, then came out again as gay at 25.

‘I owed it to myself to explore [it] at a mature age,’ he said. ‘My family – even a very homophobic uncle – were all very supportive.’

What makes Marshall remarkable is his hugely successful charitable initiative of making homemade porn to fight LGBTI suicides.

Marshall explained he wanted to do something to give back to the community after his father took his own life two years ago.

In an Instagram post, Marshall revealed he saw ‘how big depression and anxiety has become in society and almost overlooked.’

Marshall then added: ‘Older men have a “Harden the fuck up” mentality they were brought up with.

‘Stats on LGBT in this area are quite scary too so I hope I can in some way, give back to my community. Positivity is everything,’ he said.

He initially donated the money to suicide prevention charity Beyond Blue, but they informed him they couldn’t accept his money because it came from pornography.

So he decided to instead donate his money to mental health charity, the Black Dog Institute . He’s raised $10,000 AUD ($7,228 US) in a year. 3. Nyla Rose

Washington-born Nyla Rose (aka Nyla the Destroyer) actually started out as an actress.

She starred in the 2016 Canadian television comedy series The Switch as the lead character. Rose played a Native American IT manager who comes out as a trans woman and has to rebuild her life after losing her job and her apartment as a result of her announcement.

The show aired six episodes over one season. Just last month, Rose made history by becoming the first transgender person to sign onto a major wrestling league.

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) made the announcement on 7 February and Rose confirmed the news on Twitter by posting a photo of the AEW logo, with the caption: ‘Oh it’s true alright.’

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, with Nyla Rose getting into a heated argument with Kylie Ray on stage: Kylie Ray vs. Nyla Rose #DoubleOrNothing pic.twitter.com/9IB5vCIit4 — GIF Skull – #RAW #ThankYouKurt (@GIFSkull) February 8, 2019 The transgender wrestler has won the Warriors Of Wrestling Women’s Championship twice, the Covey Promotions Women’s Championship three times and the United Pro Wrestling Association Women’s Championship once. 4. Darren Young

Darren Young (real name Frederick Douglas Rosser III) is a hugely successful professional wrestler.

He made several appearances on WWE’s Sunday Night Heat, Velocity, Raw and SmackDown and is best known for his time as one half of the Prime Time Players with Titus O’Neil, as well as being part of the seven-member team Nexus.

In an interview in 2015, Darren Young publicly came out as gay . This made him the first ever active wrestler to come out as gay. The 35-year-old revealed his sexuality to a TMZ photographer after he was asked if a gay wrestler could be successful.

Laughing, he said: ‘Absolutely, absolutely! Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar, and to be honest with you I’m gay. And I’m happy, very happy.’

Young then added: ‘It’s very important to me that people understand that someone’s sexual preference shouldn’t really matter. It should be about the person.’ A post shared by Freddie fka Darren Young (@realfredrosser) on Aug 2, 2018 at 9:53am PDT He’s since gone on to participate in anti-bullying campaigns and be vocal against WWE touring the United Arab Emirates , due to the country’s anti-gay laws.

Young was also a playable character in WWE’s 2K14 video game.

He now wrestles on the independent circuit under his real name. Young also revealed his mother is a lesbian. 5. Paige

Paige (real name Saraya-Jade Bevis) is an English professional wrestler, making her debut at the age of 13.

She signed on with WWE in 2011 and debuted on their main roster in 2014. In her debut match, she won the Divas Championship, becoming the youngest champion in the title’s history at the age of 21.

Paige quickly became one to watch, winning several big titles throughout her professional wrestling career. She’s also amassed a huge online following, with over 5.3 million followers on Instagram to date.

She announced her retirement from in-ring wrestling in April 2018, but then became the general manager of SmackDown. At the end of last year, she stepped down from the position, but remains in the show.

Alongside her wrestling career, Paige joined the cast of Total Divas – an American reality television show on the lives of female professional wrestlers.

During one of the episodes, fellow WWE colleague Rosa Mendes kissed Paige, who then revealed she’s bisexual.

As the cast were discussing if they’ve kissed girls in the past, Paige said: ‘I feel like it’s ok to do these days. It’s like the 21st century – I’m not very fussy.’

Mendes responds: ‘So you have been with a girl then?’Then Paige replies: ‘Well yeah, it’s the 21st century – I just said that.’Paige said she doesn’t discriminate between genders when it comes to finding love. She is currently dating rock band Falling in Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke. 6. Kris Wolf Kris Wolf (real name Kris Hernandez) is a Chicago-born professional wrestler. She spent her childhood years in New Jersey, but eventually settled in San Fransisco before moving to Japan to be an English teacher in Tokyo.After a year and a half of teaching, she entered a competition to start joshi puroresu – a popular form of professional wrestling in Japan. She signed with World Wonder Ring Stardom.Over the next four years, she won a couple of championships, including the High Speed Championship and the Alternative Wrestling Show Women’s World Championship.In January this year, Wolf posted to Twitter about her wedding to her wife.‘I found my human,’ she wrote on Twitter. ‘She makes me feel like existence is slightly less terrifying. Thank you, universe.‘P.S. All of my in-laws are tall vikings. The universe has quite a sense of humor,’ she tweeted.Last month, Wolf announced her latest tour will be her last and she’ll retire due to injuries. 7. Mack Beggs Mack Beggs made international headlines in 2017 when the state of Texas forced him to compete in the female state wrestling tournament, despite identifying as male.According to guidelines, athletes must compete in tournaments that match their gender assigned to them at birth.As a result, Beggs won both the 2017 and 2018 state championship tournaments.The crowd ended up booing Beggs after his 2018 win.He said in a recent interview with Daily Dot : ‘I still get upset about it sometimes. Yeah, I won two state titles. But I identify as a dude.’Beggs then added: ‘I couldn’t do anything about it. Technically, I did win but I didn’t win. It’s a fucked situation.’The 19-year-old wrestler recently announced on his Instagram page that he will now be wrestling for Life University in Georgia.ESPN created a new documentary entitled Mack Wrestles, which follows his inspiring story. It also features the unique relationship he has with his supportive grandmother. 8. Jake Atlas California resident Jake Atlas (real name Kenny Marquez) came out as gay at the end of 2017. He made the announcement on Twitter, right after winning the Southern California Rookie of the Year award.The 24-year-old said winning the award was the ‘proudest’ moment of his life and it gave him the confidence to live his truth.He first realized he was gay in the sixth grade, when he liked a boy in his class.But when he actually came out to his mother and brother three years later, they didn’t react well.‘Being openly gay is still something I struggle sharing with my mom,’ he told Gay Star News in 2018. ‘She’s fully become accepting, but she always admits that in her heart, it hurts her.’Atlas found Santino Bros Wrestling Academy in Los Angeles in July of 2014 and initiated his training then.He trained at least three to four days a week for the next two years until finally achieving his professional debut on 6 August 2016.He’s now on the independent scene and said he’s ‘having a blast’. See also: Wrestler stripped of college scholarship for yelling ‘F**k f*ggots!’ at Trump rally

Ambiga calls out Pakatan’s cowardice, says law protects LGBT minority too

Ambiga calls out Pakatan's cowardice, says law protects LGBT minority too

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan says the law gives equal protection to everyone, even the LGBT community which is marginalised and vulnerable due to the discrimination and hate directed against them here. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 ― Politicians from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PAS who verbally attacked the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) minority community in Malaysia are showing cowardice, prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.

Currently a commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists also reminded the federal government that the law gives equal protection to everyone, even the LGBT community which is marginalised and vulnerable due to the discrimination and hate directed against them here.

“Are they proud of the way they attacked a minority community with their non-scientific based views, thus exposing them to more violence and hate?

“But then, it is easy to attack a minority group. That is not courage. That is cowardice,” she said in a stinging statement as she tore into politicians who tried to score political points with voters at the expense of the vulnerable LGBT community.

Ambiga listed examples of how the LGBT community has to grapple with threats to their welfare and lives, including the murder of transgender people with victims found with signs of having undergone extreme violence or torture; a Penang teenager who died in 2017 after being assaulted for being effeminate; accounts of transgender women being arrested and forced to strip naked; and LGBT persons facing discrimination at workplaces and at hospitals.

Ambiga, who is formerly a member of the government’s Institutional Reforms Committee, said it was horrifying to hear PAS and even PH MPs pour vitriol on the LGBT community on Thursday.

“I urge all leaders who condemn LGBT persons to consider this ― you do not have to agree with the LGBT community or approve of them. But as leaders you do have a duty to ensure their safety and to protect their fundamental rights,” she said.

“It is easy to beat up on minority communities who are unable to fight back. What takes courage and leadership is to fight for their fundamental liberties even if you disagree with them,” she added.

Ambiga claimed that some PH leaders were behaving like bullies instead of responsible leaders, where they allegedly not only fail to protect the weak but further endanger them with discriminatory remarks.

Calling for the police to stop probing the organisers of the Women’s Day march which featured demands against violence or discrimination towards LGBT persons, Ambiga also gave PH leaders a tip on what to say if they are questioned by the public on this issue.

“We are aware that there are many who may not personally approve of the LGBT community. However, everyone is entitled to equal protection of the law. The Federal Constitution does not discriminate on the grounds of gender or sexual identity. This government will not tolerate any form of violence against any person.. Every human being deserves to live free from fear,” she suggested to the PH leaders.

While saying that Malaysians want the PH government which it voted in to succeed, Ambiga noted that they must show leadership on tough issues by relying on the rule of law and using a rights-based approach.

“If they do not, then they are no better than the previous government who, at least, did not pretend that they cared about minority rights and the rule of law,” she said.

In her statement, Ambiga also noted the parallels between the LGBT minority in Malaysia and Muslims who are a minority in New Zealand and who yesterday were gunned down while preparing for Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch by a man who has been described in the media as a white supremacist and a terrorist.

Ambiga expressed sadness at the mosque attacks against that took the lives of 49 people and injured another 48 to date, including two Malaysians, one is critical after being shot in the spine.

“While writing this article, I read with overwhelming sadness of the Christchurch massacre. Heinous crimes of hate such as these are no less acts of terror and must be condemned in the strongest terms.

“May the lives lost in this senseless violence rest in peace and may those who were hurt recover speedily. This is a crime upon all of humanity,” she said.

LGBT party offers new choice in Thailand’s election

LGBT party offers new choice in Thailand's election

Seven million-strong community presses for equal rights Pauline Ngarmpring, right, is one of up to 20 LGBT candidates representing the Mahachon Party in Thailand’s general election. © AP BANGKOK — Thailand’s much awaited election on March 24 is set to be dominated by pro- and anti-junta candidates, but the rest of the field will be far more diverse than in previous years.

While the main contenders have focused on the economy and the widening rich-poor divide, the Mahachon Party is preparing to field up to 20 candidates who openly identify as LGBT, and are promoting inclusion and equal rights.

Some may question the wisdom of running on a single-issue platform, particularly one so sensitive. But the LGBT community represents roughly 13% of the 51 million people eligible to cast their ballots, and many feel that the country’s reputation for embracing diversity is not necessarily reflected in legal terms.

"There are an estimated 7 million LGBT voters Thailand," said Party leader Apirak Sirinavin. "If just 10% of them vote for us, I think we can win some seats in parliament, where we can push forward our policies."

That figure is based on public health statistics collated from records of patients who listed themselves as LGBT while attending medical appointments.

Apirak added that the number of LGBT candidates in this election is the highest ever, and felt that the country was increasingly ready to accept a more diverse field.

In contrast to other parties, Mahachon hopes its focus on one specific issue will help win support. The party aims to push forward civil partnership and same-sex marriage acts that are being debated in the National Legislative Assembly.

"The LGBT community is generally accepted among friends and in wider society," said Pauline Ngarmpring, a 52-year-old transgender female candidate. "However, we still lack the laws to support the rights of our groups," added the former CEO and well-known sports promoter. According to public health figures, Thailand’s LGBT community numbers 7 million. © Reuters Since the 1980s, Thailand has built a reputation as an LGBT-friendly tourist destination that is based on far more than the vibrant nightlife of Bangkok and other big cities.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has promoted the country to LGBT communities in the West, in hopes of tapping a demographic renowned for having high levels of disposable income. Tourism accounts for up to 20% of Thailand’s gross domestic product.

Somporn Thamachat, a 30-year-old transgender dancer in Bangkok’s Silom Road entertainment district, said she would vote for an LGBT candidate as she wants legal recognition for the community.

"Yes, we get wider acceptance, but we still lack the right to marry legally and to adopt. I think voting for the group could help," she said.

For many in the LGBT community, however, there are concerns over the Mahachon Party’s perceived lack of a stance on wider issues.

"I am not going to vote for them just because they are gay, only if their policies match my needs," said Eakapop Panthurat, a 35-year-old transgender female who works at a well-known public relations agency.

Even if candidates like Pauline do manage to secure a number of seats, passing bills in parliament will be a different challenge altogether.

"I think we finally ignited the light of understanding among Thais," said Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of rights group Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand. "But it will take years for some lawmakers, particularly those who hold conservative views, to completely understand and agree to pass laws to support us."

Poland’s ruling party picks LGBT rights as election battlefront

Poland's ruling party picks LGBT rights as election battlefront

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s ruling nationalist party aims to stem a decline in its popularity ahead of two key elections this year with warnings that opposition support for LGBT education is a threat to Polish culture and should be blocked wherever possible. Police officers stand guard as far-right protesters try to block first in the city "Equality Parade" rally in support of the LGBT community in Lublin, Poland October 13, 2018. Jakub Orzechowski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS

The Law and Justice Party (PiS) has condemned a new school sex education program planned in Poland’s opposition-ruled capital Warsaw, calling it an infringement of traditional Catholic values by Western liberalism.

PiS has targeted LGBT rights as it strives to reverse a decline in popularity amid corruption allegations against financial regulators and questions about party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s business dealings, among other things.

Poland’s European Coalition, an umbrella grouping of opposition parties, has passed PiS by two points ahead of May’s European Parliament elections, according to a new opinion poll. Parliamentary elections will follow in the autumn.

The approved lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) education program in Warsaw is meant to teach students about sexual orientation, discrimination and reproductive health, according to standards set by the World Health Organization.

Conservative politicians, Roman Catholic leaders and commentators argue such lessons will rob parents of the right to decide how their children should be educated and see children discovering their sexuality too early.

“The whole social mechanism of preparing a young person, first a child and then a youth, for future roles as women and men, to start a family, for the role of mother and father, is being questioned. It could be destroyed,” Kaczynski told a PiS party convention on Saturday.

He added that if the opposition prevailed in the coming elections, it would “continue this attack on families, on children,” and urged voters to help PiS foil such outcomes.

Over half of Poles think homosexuality is not normal but can be tolerated, while a quarter believe it should not be tolerated at all, according to a poll carried out in late 2017 by CBOS.

Poland remains one of Europe’s most devout countries. Roughly 90 percent of the 38 million population identify as Catholics and some 12 million attend mass every Sunday. But while PiS is popular in small town and rural areas of Poland, it draws much less support in larger cities like Warsaw. ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR?

Some analysts said the PiS decision to zero in on LGBT matters in an election year was a strategy of playing on fear of the unfamiliar to win votes at a time when support for the PiS is floundering among young voters and urbanites.

“What the ruling party is doing isn’t a normal discussion about LGBT rights. Through certain connotations, linking this subject with a so-called threat to children, politicians are trying to create an atmosphere of fear,” sociologist Malgorzata Fuszara told daily Rzeczpospolita on Wednesday.

The tactic worked for PiS previously, analysts said, noting how in 2015 it used anti-migrant rhetoric to drum up support before its election defeat of the governing center-left Civic Platform.

“Here they’re playing on fear just like they did with migration. Only this time it’s not against migrants and Islamic countries but against the expansion of Western values,” said Aleksander Smolar at the Stefan Batory Foundation.

For their part, Polish bishops said in a statement that the Warsaw sex education program would undermine democracy by limiting parental rights and eroding free speech, as children would be instructed in ways at odds with Polish tradition.

PiS has used its electoral mandate to strengthen Catholic values, vowing to “lift Poland from its knees” in its fight against the alleged imposition by countries like Germany and France of a more secular, liberal way of life.

“We don’t want families to be replaced by a new social structure. We don’t want the state, specialists or experts to be the only ones to decide on how we raise our children,” said Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, a PiS ally in the European Parliament.

Polish schools do not currently offer formal sex education, instead teaching students how to prepare for “family life”.

Poland ranks second to last out of 28 European Union states when it comes to equality and non-discrimination, according to Rainbow Europe, an organization linked to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Gay marriage is illegal in Poland and homosexual partnerships are not legally recognized.

PiS has long focused on bolstering the traditional family unit, comprised of a mother, father and children through social spending programs such as “500+”, which awards 500 zlotys ($131) a month per child to families with more than one child.