Jazmine Khan, a transgender 15-year-old with wisps of blue hair and nails to match, is crying in her doctor’s office. “I just wish I was me already,” she says to the camera held out in front of her, and wipes away tears with her free hand. “I just wish that I could be a real girl.”
Moments ago, her doctor told her that she won’t be allowed to start taking estrogen to aid her full transition — not for a long while. That means it’s time for yet another shot of Lupron, a drug that suppresses testosterone production. The Canadian teen has videotaped each of her six shots thus far — along with updates on the changes brought about by the drug — and posted them on YouTube for the world to see.
This particular video marks a low point after a particularly difficult visit: First, her mom referred to her as a “he,” then a nurse did the same. When she finally got to see her doctor, her hopes of moving on to estrogen treatment were dashed. “It’s too slow,” she tells the camera, angry with her doctor’s caution. “They gotta make sure I’m trans? Of course I’m trans. Who in their right mind would go through this [otherwise]?”
Some kids learn to play an instrument, some rather get into close combat with their peers and others become cheerleaders. Very few though attempt to achieve nuclear fusion when they’re just 14. And succeed. Taylor Wilson built his first bomb when he was 10 years old. Four years later he became the youngest person on Earth to ever build a working nuclear fusion reactor.
"Propulsion," the nine-year-old says as he leads his dad through the gates of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "I just want to see the propulsion stuff."
A young woman guides their group toward a full-scale replica of the massive Saturn V rocket that brought America to the moon. As they duck under the exhaust nozzles, Kenneth Wilson glances at his awestruck boy and feels his burden beginning to lighten. For a few minutes, at least, someone else will feed his son’s boundless appetite for knowledge.
Then Taylor raises his hand, not with a question but an answer. He knows what makes this thing, the biggest rocket ever launched, go up. And he wants-no, he obviously needs-to tell everyone about it, about how speed relates to exhaust velocity and dynamic mass, about payload ratios, about the pros and cons of liquid versus solid fuel. The tour guide takes a step back, yielding the floor to this slender kid with a deep-Arkansas drawl, pouring out a torrent of Ph.D.-level concepts as if there might not be enough seconds in the day to blurt it all out. The other adults take a step back too, perhaps jolted off balance by the incongruities of age and audacity, intelligence and exuberance.
As the guide runs off to fetch the center’s director-You gotta see this kid!-Kenneth feels the weight coming down on him again. What he doesn’t understand just yet is that he will come to look back on these days as the uncomplicated ones, when his scary-smart son was into simple things, like rocket science.
This is before Taylor would transform the family’s garage into a mysterious, glow-in-the-dark cache of rocks, metals and liquids with unimaginable powers. Before he would conceive, in a series of unlikely epiphanies, new ways to use neutrons to confront some of the biggest challenges of our time: cancer and nuclear terrorism. Before he would build a reactor that could hurl atoms together in a 500-million-degree plasma core-becoming, the youngest individual on Earth to achieve nuclear fusion. Read on… (seriously, do!)
Michele Bachmann is one of the darlings of America’s far right and considered running for presidency in the upcoming general elections. In her home district, evangelical Christians have created an extreme anti-gay climate. After a rash of suicides, the kids are fighting back.
Every morning, Brittany Geldert stepped off the bus and bolted through the double doors of Fred Moore Middle School, her nerves already on high alert, bracing for the inevitable. “Dyke.” Pretending not to hear, Brittany would walk briskly to her locker, past the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who loitered in menacing packs. “Whore.“
Like many 13-year-olds, Brittany knew seventh grade was a living hell. But what she didn’t know was that she was caught in the crossfire of a culture war being waged by local evangelicals inspired by their high-profile congressional representative Michele Bachmann, who graduated from Anoka High School and, until recently, was a member of one of the most conservative churches in the area.
When Christian activists who considered gays an abomination forced a measure through the school board forbidding the discussion of homosexuality in the district’s public schools, kids like Brittany were unknowingly thrust into the heart of a clash that was about to become intertwined with tragedy.
Barbara Daly Baekeland was a wealthy socialite who was murdered by her son, Antony Baekeland. Baekeland had a complex and allegedly incestuous relationship with her gay son, Antony. She attempted to “fix” her son by having prostitutes take him to bed; after this failed, Baekeland was alleged to have manipulated or coerced her son into having sex with her.
The Baekeland’s were determined to promote Tony as some sort of child prodigy, constantly showing off to their friends about everything he had written or drawn at school. ‘They wanted the boy to be a genius,’ said artist Yvonne Thomas. ‘That’s what struck me. I felt uncomfortable with him because I felt he felt he had to be something.’
One acquaintance remembered the Baekeland’s ordering their young son to read aloud from the Marquis de Sade’s erotic writings. Another broke off contact with the couple after hearing Brooks’s evident pride as he described how Tony had pulled the wings off a fly to see how it would affect its balance. ‘That kind of sadistic behaviour is quite common in children, but one seldom sees a father who thinks it is marvellous,’ said the shocked friend. Read on… [Warning: Daily Mail]
A sick-room torpor hangs heavily about this masterfully controlled, elegantly composed movie by Tom Kalin. It is a sensational, lurid story: erotic and repulsive by overlapping turn. And it’s pulp fact. Barbara Daly was the would-be actress, artist and social alpinist who in post-war New York married wealthy Brooks Baekeland, a travel writer and heir to the Bakelite fortune.
Her drinking, her propensity for making a scene in public, and her weakness for pseudo-bohemian adulterous flings evidently made the marriage a living hell. She could find a smothering intimacy only with her gay son, Tony Daly. Mother, father and son created a dysfunctional love triangle which ended in violence and bloodshed.
It is a story of the very rich, a milieu rarely and not always convincingly rendered in the movies: a brittle world of selfish people who are never sympathetic and often never even comprehensible. Appropriately for the leisured classes, Kalin has an eye for the mood and feeling of ennui. When Tony helps his mother from the bath, the camera lingers on her knees and she looks as vulnerable as a sickly child. This is a gripping, coldly brilliant and tremendously acted movie. [Full Review]
A third of all kids in the United States don’t get educated about sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies or anything other than heterosexuality and archaic gender roles. Instead they are told to “just say no” to sex.
This is stupid not only because this abstinence-only sex-education doesn’t work—about 50% of all kids between grades 9 and 12 actually do have sex—it also leaves teens unprepared for reality which shows in the fact that states teaching abstinence have significantly higher rates of STDs and unwanted pregnancies among their teenage population than states with comprehensive, useful sex education.
But there’s another problem related to abstinence-only sex education as AlterNet points out:
I believe that the heyday of our federal investment in abstinence-only programs had a terrible collateral effect — namely, kids who were "educated" in this way were more likely to bully and harass because they learned, in ways integral to abstinence provisions, outdated "traditional" ideas about gender and sexuality. Even kids whose parents talked to them at home, about contraception or healthy sex, were taught gendered rules and more and more of them appear to have enforced those rules to great harm.” Read on…
Bisexual is simultaneously one of the most common, most recognized, and least understood sexual orientation labels. In the most basic sense, individuals who identify as bisexual recognize that they are attracted to more than one gender—in other words, they are not monosexual in any direction.
This identification can be confusing, and lots of bisexual people (myself included) have been repeatedly confronted with stereotypes about bisexual identity that may apply to some people, but are certainly irrelevant to others. Read on…
More and more U.S. schools have police patrolling the corridors. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising normal childhood behaviour? The following reads like the Onion’s darkest satire but is, in fact, the sad truth for many kids who have to grow up into what is, quite literally, a police state.
Each day, hundreds of schoolchildren appear before courts in Texas charged with offences such as swearing or misbehaving on the school bus.. Children have been arrested for possessing cigarettes, wearing "inappropriate" clothes and being late for school.
In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 "Class C misdemeanour" tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later. Read on…
Nicole was born as Wyatt, a boy, who always liked girl’s clothes and films, while her twin brother Jonas played with traditional boy toys. Born identical twins, the siblings share the same DNA, but their gender identification took divergent paths. Now, at age 14, they are brother and sister, as Wyatt’s transition to Nicole is well under way. And they were best friends all along. Their story — marked by tearful emotions, bullying at their first school and eventually a lawsuit and a move to a different town — was chronicled in the Boston Globe.
Jonas was all boy. He loved Spiderman, action figures, pirates, and swords. Wyatt favoured pink tutus and beads. At 4, she insisted on a Barbie birthday cake and had a thing for mermaids. On Halloween, Jonas was Buzz Lightyear. Wyatt wanted to be a princess; their mother compromised on a prince costume. Once, when Wyatt appeared in a sequin shirt and mum’s heels, their father Wayne said: “You don’t want to wear that.’’ — “Yes, I do,’’ Wyatt replied. “Dad, you might as well face it,’’ Wayne recalls Jonas saying. “You have a son and a daughter.’’ Read on… [via Towleroad]
The Middle Ages had the Black Death, 1918 had the influenza epidemic. But the scourge sweeping the land at the end of the 19th century? Masturbation.
We’re not exaggerating. According to the medical minds of the time, "No single vice causes so much mental and physical debility… It impairs the intellect, weakens the memory, debases the mind, ruins the nervous system, exhausts the vital power and destroys body, mind and soul." They thought masturbation could result in insanity, impotence, epilepsy and "puny offspring."
You could blame pretty much everything on masturbation as long as you ignored the truth. Sure, the general view on masturbation became a lot more sane, sometimes even to a degree that went a bit too far for some (in the 1970s there were sex education films shown in some schools in countries like Belgium and Sweden that featured teens demonstrating how to masturbate) but even as late as 1994 the U.S. Surgeon General was fired for just saying masturbation was part of human sexuality. By Bill Clinton of all people.
Fortunately (well…) for sufferers, doctors back then had almost as many cures as there were symptoms. John Harvey Kellogg for example (yes, the cornflakes guy) was an advocate of circumcising young boys to curb masturbation and applying phenol (an acid that can cause second and third-degree burns) to a girl’s clitoris. Read more on Cracked: 5 Insane Ways Fear of Masturbation Shaped the Modern World
Gladly most of us are over this….
When she turned 38 last month, Brenda Frota Johnson got a sweet surprise: a formal “happy birthday” from her longtime partner’s mother. It wasn’t a gift or even a card, just a succinct text message, but even so, it had no precedent over the 10 years that she and her partner, Isabel Advirta, 39, had been making a life and a home here together.
Why this birthday? The two women share a theory. “Brenda’s now officially a part of the family,” Advirta said recently as they watched their 3-year-old daughter, Salomé, play in a leafy Lisbon park. Johnson agreed. “It’s because we’re married,” she said. That legal blessing — that loftiest of imprimaturs — has changed little between them but a lot around them. Read on…