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In an age of television that is still blatantly anti-LGBTQ+, one reality show rises above the rest. Love Island, in our view, didn't get enough criticism for it's heteronormativity among other flaws.

Representation of queer people remains massively lacking, especially on reality TV where most people involved are of the same weight, race, age and sexual orientation. They look filtered, pretty much.

MTV's latest series of Are You The One? is back for season eight, but with a beautiful twist: every one of the cast members are sexually fluid. Thank the good Lord, it's what we've been waiting for.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This glittery MTV show will fill the empty void of your life now that Love Island has ended. 16 singles from all over the US have flown to Hawaii for the summer to try and find love, without gender limits.

“Welcome to the most ambitious matchmaking experiment ever attempted,” said host Ryan Devlin. The cash prize is a little more than the ITV dating show…try $1 million. 

The contestants have 10 weeks, and 10 match-up (recoupling) ceremonies to try and find out who their perfect match is. All 16 contestants are fair game, so it's far more challenging this time around.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Topics surrounding gender identity and sexuality will be approached, and progressive narratives that the LGBTQ community wholeheartedly deserve.

Competitions, dates and truth booths will be part and parcel of the experience every week, but drama, fights, heartbreak, sex and juicy content ensues as a result.

The 2019 cast's perfect matches are discovered through a dating algorithm, based on a vigorous process involving comprehensive interviews, IQ and personality tests, interviews with family, friends and exes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“The matchmakers got pretty deep into all of the contestants’ past relationship history, so they would do these interviews with the contestants and their family, friends, and exes. All that information was combined and analysed,” executive producer Tiffany Williams revealed to Entertainment Weekly.

The discourse surrounding gender identity still needs to be opened up further, and queer representation is a great place to start. Awareness and education about sexuality can be provided through the medium of reality TV (Drag Race changed the damn GAME).

“It’s still a fun, drama-filled salacious ridiculous reality show but it’s now got a social message underneath it,” Executive producer Rob LaPlante stated in an interview with Variety.

MTV have provided a relationship expert, Dr Frankie, who specialises in working with the LGBTQ community. Proper mental health support is 100 percent needed throughout the process and afterward.

Seeing as much of the drama is usually constructed, many fans have expressed concerns for queer people being exploited for entertainment. MTV appear to be deconstructing heteronormative conversations in a positive way, however. We adore the inclusive cast.

Are You The One? season eight airs on MTV at 10pm every Monday. Grab that queer content by the rainbow. 

Feature image: MTV/Instagram/@areuthe1

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Victoria's Secret have hired their first out transgender model, only one year on from Ed Razek's controversial transphobic comments about the brand's annual fashion show.

The VS Angels have added Valentina Sampaio to their roster, making the model the brand's first out VS Angel. Sampaio announced the news to her Instagram followers, and her agent confirmed it with CNN.

Sampaio is already a spokesperson for L'Oréal, and was the first out transgender woman to feature on the cover of Vogue. She appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris in March 2017 with the issue covering transgender beauty.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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She later covered Vogue Brazil and Vogue Germany in the same year as well as appearing on ELLE Brazil's cover in 2016. Trans inclusivity was once again the subject, with ELLE being ahead of the curve,

Sampaio broke the news last week on her Instagram, posting a photo of her backstage during a Victoria's Secret campaign. She captioned the photo; "Backstage chick" and tagged VS Pink.

The stunning model's agent, Erio Zanon, confirmed that the lingerie brand hired Valentina to be part of a campaign for the PINK line, which will be released in mid-August.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Many of us will recall Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer for Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands. The exec made controversial comments about plus size women and transgender models during an interview with Vogue last year.

Razek commented that Victoria's Secret had chosen not to include diverse women in the show, in terms of body physique and genders.

"Do I think about diversity? Yes. Does the brand think about diversity? Yes. Do we offer larger sizes? Yes," Razek told the magazine.

"It's like, why doesn't your show do this? Shouldn't you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don't think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special."

Razek later apologised and retracted his comments, and his official statement was posted on Victoria's Secret's Twitter account:

"My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive," Razek wrote.

"I apologise. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We've had transgender models come to castings…and like many others, they didn't make it…But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are."

Feature image: Instagram/@valentts

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St John of God Research Study Day are currently presenting findings from their studies, which show a rapid increase of people presenting with gender dysphoria.

Today is the 28th Annual St John of God Research Study day, and features researchers and academics from the medical field displaying the results of their analysis.

Consultant Endocrinologist at St. Columcille's Hospital Loughlinstown, Professor Donal O'Shea, has stated from his own exploration in the field that 210 people presented with the condition last year, increasing from 10 in 2007.

This represents a 2100% increase over the entire decade. Dr. Paul Moran, Consultant Psychiatrist at St John of God Community Services, has joined Professor O’Shea to discuss the imperative needs of transgender people.

This vital talk comes just ahead of the launch of the National Gender Service, which hopes to make a difference in the difficulties which numerous members of the transgender community face daily.

According to Professor O’Shea:

“We see the most positive outcomes for patients experiencing gender dysphoria when a holistic and better paced transition journey is taken, with family support. I have observed patients who transitioned hastily, ultimately regretting the decision after irreversible treatment has taken place."

"The new national gender service has been established to address the rising prevalence of gender dysphoria and to ensure that those individuals who require this service receive the best possible holistic care."

St John of God Research Foundation Study are aiming to further examine the theme of 'an evidence based path to service provision; as well as interim results on the gap in mental health care for teenagers and young adults.

Another disturbing fact raised today stated that 50% of the general population who are experiencing mental illness are not being referred for child and adolescent mental health services after the age of 18.

The adult mental health services could intervene at this crucial time in the lives of those experiencing mental illness such as suicidal ideation, eating disorders, depression and ADHD.

The St John of God Research Foundation is presently being funded by the European Commission, and the landmark MILESTONE study is being conducted across 8 European counties, Ireland included.

Professor Fiona McNicholas, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at St John of God Hospitaller Services and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin is leading the Irish research on the MILESTONE study. She stated that:

“Mental health disorders are established early in childhood and for many persist into adulthood. The interim results of the MILESTONE study highlight that by not transitioning adolescents with established mental illness to an appropriate mental health service, we are leaving vulnerable teenagers without the support and medical care required."

"Without treatment, progress and recovery is hampered. Many will present only at times of crisis to emergency services, such as following suicide attempts or self-harm."

"They are prevented from receiving appropriate treatment that would help them live healthier lives, instead the huge percentage of young people not transitioning are more likely to be marginalised and experience homelessness, drug abuse and unemployment.”

Ireland's failure to effectively transition it's youth is not unusual for Europe. Broad European findings of the MILESTONE study which are being presented by Dr Helena Toumainen, from the University of Warwick supports this argument. 

Vanessa Lacey from the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) will be speaking today regarding loss from a transgender family's perspective.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For more information. please visit the St. John of God website.

Other support services include the national LGBT helpline, BeLonGTo, and advice for parents and a guide for terminology.

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The Victoria's Secret fashion show took place last weekend, and the controversy surrounding the event has been mounting ever since, despite the fact that it hasn't even been aired yet.

Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands (VS's parent company) threw caution (and tact) to the wind in his exclusive Vogue interview about the fashion show, which first began in 1995.

The public were less than impressed, to say the least, about his statements regarding transgender models in his 'fantasy' show, as well as his attitude towards Rihanna's ground-breaking Savage x Fenty lingerie show.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Razek was quizzed about the lack of diversity in his own show, which features predominantly skinny, cisgender white models, and had more than a few things to say on the matter:

"Do I think about diversity? Yes. Does the brand think about diversity? Yes. Do we offer larger sizes? Yes….Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy."

As you can imagine, this caused major drama, as it appears to imply that transgender models are not part of the 'fantasy' world of Victoria's Secret.

Razek later issued an apology regarding his comments about transgender models, which wasn't received well:

His outspoken opinions on the 'fantasy' which excluded transgender models were not the only bone of contention. Razek also shared his own thoughts on Rihanna's phenomenally successful show:

"It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us."

"They carp at us because we’re the leader. …We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"Everybody keeps talking about Rihanna’s show. If we had done Rihanna’s show, we would be accused of pandering without question."

Blogger and influencer Louise O'Reilly (@StyleMeCurvy) spoke out about the contentious chief marketing director in a tweet, which Bad Gal Riri LIKED.  The shade.

Her show featured a huge range of models ranging in size and ethnicity, as well as ability. Pregnant model and long-time Fenty ambassador Slick Woods walked the show while nine months pregnant.

Rihanna has yet to officially comment on the Victoria's Secret fashion show, but we highly doubt she'd be impressed by the now-infamous Vogue interview.

To think, it was only back in 2012 that Rihanna performed at the fashion show herself… how time flies.

2018 is a whole other fashion show ball game it seems.

Feature image: Syracuse.com

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The CW’s Supergirl has just announced it's latest casting addition and it is proving to be a divisive decision already. 

Last weekend, during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, producers of the hit show stated that the role of Nia Nal will be played by Nicole Maines, making her television's first ever transgender superhero. 

She will join the production for the upcoming fourth season. 

The actor, who previously starred in Royal Pains, will play a new member of CatCo’s reporting team. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, Nicole said of her character, ''she has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred. She’s the superhero we need right now.”

It was announced back in May that a transgender character would be coming to Supergirl but now that we have the actor in place, it has gotten very real. 

Nicole spoke to Variety about how she feels stepping into this role. 

“I haven’t really wrapped my head around it. It feels fitting to say with great power, comes great responsibility.''

She continued, ''we can be whoever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are. We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn't been the right representation.”

Reactions to the news on social media have been mixed.

Lots of people are happy with the news, with one writing, ''I'm literally crying right now. I never thought I'd see the day where we'd actually see this happen.'' 

Others hit back at negative comments, with one person saying, ''so many narrow minded people here, I hope someday you'll be brave enough to open your eyes.''

This isn't the first bit of history-making news to come from the CW this week.

It was just announced that a Batwoman series is in the works, which will be the first live-action superhero series with an openly gay lead at its centre. 

“It's such an important issue right now in our society and in the world. And so it seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to. I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little,'' Nicole has said of this news. 

Supergirl will return to our screens on October 14th on the CW.

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After a fabulous Pride month, there is another huge reason to keep the celebrations going in the LGBTQ community. 

For the first time ever, a transgender woman has been victorious in the competition for the Miss Spain title. 

Angela Ponce took home the crown on June 29th, beating out 22 other contestants. 

And now she'll take it one step further, by competing to become the next Miss Universe in the Philippines this December. 

Angela took to Instagram to share her joy at this momentous achievement. 

''Today I have fulfilled a dream that I always had,'' she wrote in Spanish. ''I'm going to the @missuniverse, with the awareness and commitment to carry forward a message of inclusion, respect, tolerance, love for oneself, love for others.''

Social media has largely backed Angela's victory, with one user saying that, ''trans can participate in any scenario, in the perspective of an inclusive society.''

Others were not so happy with the news, with one person commenting that, ''I agree that it is a revolutionary idea in pushing the definition of a woman. On the other side, I don't wanna lose the essence and tradition of our most loved pageant.''

This win is a monumental step when you think of the fact that until six years ago, trans women were actually banned from entering the contest. 

According to Express, the rules were changed after trans model Jenna Talackova threatened legal action against the competition. 

President Paula Shugart later said, ''we have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”

Hopefully this means that more inclusion in pageants worldwide will soon be a reality. 

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Scarlett Johansson has disregarded claims that playing a transgender character is problematic. 

The actor is set to star as Dante ''Tex'' Gill in Rub & Tug, a biopic about a transgender man who is also a crime boss.

The movie will take place in Pittsburgh’s underground sex work industry during the 1970's.

The reaction to this news across social media has been widely negative, with many being quick to condemn Scarlett for choosing to take on this role. 

Twitter lambasted Scarlett for taking roles away from people who are actually trans.

One Twitter user claimed that, ''Scarlett's been tone deaf on a heap of social issues,'' while another said, ''Scarlett Johansson…you should check your privilege. Also, and this goes for all casting directors, step up and break the cycle of misrepresentation.''

However, not everyone on Twitter was criticising her choice to play Dante. 

One said, ''it’s a movie!! Who cares, it’s a business!!'' while another user reiterated the fact that she is an actor who is simply doing her job. 

''There is no law that says only trans can portray a trans person in a film. Now f**k off with your insufferable moral grandstanding. Sincerely, A Trans-woman.'' 

Scarlett has responded to this accusations with her own statement to Bustle.

She said: ''Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."

This response has not been taken well by social media, with many calling it ''trash.'' 

''Clearly ScarJo doesn't’t give a sh*t about the trans community and wants her Oscar,'' one user tweeted.

Others still seem to see her point of view, with someone else pointing out, ''blame the casting director, not her.''

This movie will be the second time that Scarlett will have worked with director Rupert Sanders.

Their last film, Ghost in the Shell also faced major controversy. 

Scarlett was accused of whitewashing the Asian character that she played, which was based off of a Japanese manga character.

''I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive,'' she told Marie Claire last year.

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There are now more Irish people identifying as gay than ever before, a new study has shown. 

The survey, carried out by Dublin innovation studio Connector found that while 70% of participants identified as "completely heterosexual", 23% of people defined her sexual orientation as neither completely gay or straight, where 7% identified as gay. 

This is quite high in contrast to the UK and Australia where the number of people who identify as gay are estimated to be between 1.5% and 3.5%. 

While this is great news in terms of LGBTQ people being more accepted in Irish society, the survey also found that about a fifth of participants were largely unaware of "alternative" sexualities. Of those surveyed, 40% could not define terms such as asexual, pansexual and cisgender, while 25% had never even heard the terms mentioned before.

However, 22% of people reported that they are more accepting of people of non-traditional gender identity than they were a year ago with 12% of people knowing someone who uses non-binary pronouns. 

When asked how open Irish society is to trans people, 40% said that the general Irish public would be uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with a trans person. Conversely, only 16% admitted that they would react negatively to a trans person using their bathroom. 

18% for people don’t consider it important for public spaces to have gender-neutral access, and do not believe that they are becoming more accepting of non-traditional gender identities. Most interestingly, age is actually a postivive factor in acceptable of alternative gender identities; 28% of all 14-17-year-olds don't accept gender neutral pronouns, compared to 6% of all 45-54-year-olds and 12% of those who are 54 years or older.

According to Connector, this gap suggests that people become more accepting as they get older and experience different situations and perspectives.

The research showed that heterosexual people were more likely to be aware of alternative sexualities and more accepting of non-traditional gender identities if they have family or friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Commenting on the research, Ivan Adriel, Innovation & Strategy Director at Connector said: “Connector is a proud supporter of the LGBT community and we believe that creative innovators need to create work that reflects the society and push boundaries of the acceptance. Advertising is one of the strongest forces to challenge perceptions and we want this research to be an eye opener for marketers to become more inclusive”.

While we've come on a long way as a nation, we still have a lot further to go.

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Dublin Bus have just introduced one of the most comprehensive Workplace Gender Transition Policy and Guidelines in the country.

The move comes as part of the transport company's Equality, Diversity and Non-Discrimination Strategy and has been devised in consultation with Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).

Ireland's Gender Recognition Act was signed into law in 2105, meaning that any individual over the age of 18 can choose their true gender indentity.

According to Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), companies need to be more aware what is happening and Sara Phillips, Chair, TENI said:

“TENI is delighted to work in partnership with Dublin Bus to create one of the most progressive policies on transgender inclusion in the workplace.”

“Dublin Bus is part of the fabric of our capital city and it is encouraging that they both, value their transgender employees and are working towards making Dublin a more trans friendly city.”

The new guidelines include recommendations for employees, managers and HR departments on how to support a fellow employee's transition.

“It may be daunting for an employee to approach their manager in the workplace on this issue. These guidelines were created to help foster dialogue and understanding of trans issues. Just as there are gay, lesbian and bisexual employees in Dublin Bus, there are also employees who are trans,” said Vivienne Kavanagh, Employee Development and Equality Executive.

As one of the largest employers in the country, Dublin Bus is considered to be one of the most progressive in terms of supporting diversity among its workforce.

Commenting on the launch, Ray Coyne, Dublin Bus CEO said “We are committed to managing a workplace that integrates, benefits from, and achieves equality for our diverse employees, as well as promoting an inclusive workplace that celebrates and supports diversity.” 

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US President, Donald Trump, has effectively banned transgender people from serving in the US military.

He made the announcement in a series of tweets in which he said the decision had been made after consultation with his Generals and military experts.

The President also stated that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

It looks as though it's a case of one step forward and two steps back, as the new policy completely contradicts the Obama administration's efforts to loosen restrictions on transgender people in the US military.

According to The Independent, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that the Pentagon was giving the military another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would impact its "readiness and lethality".

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The Irish Girl Guides, sometimes more commonly known as IGG, has passed a motion that will allow transgender children into their ranks from now on.

The organisation, which met over the weekend, has confirmed that their rules have now changed to accommodate children who are male on their birth certificate but identify as female.

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The group said that this decision will amend its equality policy to include "anyone who lives their lives as female is welcome to join."

The CEO of the IGG, Linda Peters, said that they are currently coming up with guidelines on how to welcome the new members on-board.

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"Our board decided to invite one of our own members who has a transgender child to come to our next meeting to help with our discussions and consideration regarding practical guidelines for our volunteer leaders."

We're delighted things are going in this direction.

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Since its launch in 2009, Modern Family has been lauded for its treatment of adoption,  same-sex couples, and multi-cultural families.

And in keeping with the trend, the makers of the hit ABC show have confirmed that they are thrilled to feature the first openly transgender child actor on television in their next episode.

Taking to Instagram last night, the episode's director, Ryan Case, shared a snap of herself with the budding star, and could barely contain her delight at having him on set.
 

"This is Jackson Millarker. He's 8 years old, from Atlanta, and just happens to be transgender," Ryan wrote alongside her snap.

"He plays Lily's friend Tom in this week's Modern Family and he's wonderful," she continued. "One of the many reasons I love being a part of this show."

While there were some cruel remarks, the vast majority of Instagram users were pumped for Jackson, with one writing: "Awesome! So glad we are finally getting to a place where young ones are feeling safe enough to be vocal and express themselves how they choose to."

"Of course there will always be those few who speak against it… ahem…. a few of the above comments…. but it will take small steps to erase the ignorance of many," she continued.

"Cheers to you Jackson and to taking small steps in the right direction!"

Jackson will feature in the show's latest episode 'A Stereotypical Day'.

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