Entertainment

Maria Joaquina Is The 11-Year-Old Trans Latina Skater Changing The World Of Competition

At just 11-years-old, Brazilian prize-winning roller-skater Maria Joaquina can skate circles around most of her competitors. Still, despite her level of athleticism, the elite skater is facing various obstacles on her path to success. Mostly because of transphobia.

In a recent report by BBC, Joaquina was celebrated for finishing second in Brazil’s national roller skating championships. Typically, this achievement would have guaranteed her a slot at the South American regionals.

Unfortunately, the South American Skating Confederation is attempting to prevent her from competing.

SASC typically allows skaters to compete as women if they have a female name on their official ID.

Joaquina does not.

Though she goes by a feminine name, the 11-year-old still has the male name given to her at birth on her birth certificate.

When the South American Skating Confederation first contacted Joaquina to notify her that she’d been disqualified from competing, her parents hit back. They took the Confederation to court and ultimately won an injunction that made it so that she would be allowed to skate in the girls’ regional competition.

Then, a seemingly corrupted series of events happened.

The Confederation ordered that the skating order be changed and Joaquina was moved from her original slot as the last competitor to the very first. All without even a slip of notice.

Video of Joaquina taking part in the regional competition that day is hard to watch. With little to no time to prepare, the skater went out onto the floor and fell. Over and over again and when she couldn’t bear it much more she began to cry. All while pushing herself to finish her skate.

In an interview with the BBC, Joaquina’s father explained that it was too much pressure.

“People saying that you’ve not been accepted and [we] don’t want you to compete” had clearly taken its toll on her. And while the Confederation has said that the schedule change was not meant to sabotage Joaquina’s performance, it also reiterated its policy of “only letting skaters compete as women if they have a female name on their official ID.”

And yet, Joaquina has used the experience to continue to florish.

In her interview with BBC she explained that she wanted “people to understand that I’m a girl. It might still say João on my ID, but I know I’m a girl.”

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Blamed Leonardo DiCaprio For The Amazon Fires, Now The Actor Claps Back

Entertainment

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Blamed Leonardo DiCaprio For The Amazon Fires, Now The Actor Claps Back

Amazon Front

During a webcast President Jair Bolsonaro blamed the Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio for causing the increase in Amazon forest fires. The controversial rightwing president seemed to think the cause of the depleting rainforest is nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). CNN noted that Bolsonaro went on the rant “providing no evidence to support the accusation.”

DiCaprio has a long history of supporting environmental causes and has pledged $5 million to save the Amazon. According to the BBC, Bolsonaro has made four arrests — despite a lack of evidence — that some volunteer firefighters were starting fires to use the images to solicit donations for NGOs. 

Bolsonaro calls Leonardo DiCaprio out for allegedly donating half a million to an NGO. 

“The NGO people, what did they do? What’s easier? Set fire to the bush,” Bolsonaro said in a webcast. “Take photo, film, send it to an NGO, the NGO spreads it out, does a campaign against Brazil, gets in touch with Leonardo DiCaprio and Leonardo DiCaprio donates $500,000 to this NGO. One part went to the people who were setting the fire, right?”

Bolsonaro essentially blamed DiCaprio for participating in an unsubstantiated conspiracy to set the Amazon rainforest on fire to accrue donations to save it. 

“Leonardo DiCaprio, you are assisting with the burning of the Amazon, that can’t be,” Bolsonaro continued in the bizarre rant.

Bolsonaro’s accusations seem to stem from a disputed social media conspiracy that the World Wildlife Fund paid volunteer firefighters to set fire to the Amazon and take photos.

However, NGOs are saying Bolsonaro’s accusations were politically motivated and the law enforcement sting was harassing the environmental groups when it arrested the volunteer firefighters. Despite opposition, the president continued to blame the actor. 

“This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said the following day. 

DiCaprio responds to Bolsonaro on Instagram. 

“At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage. They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment. The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them,” DiCaprio stated.

DiCaprio denied even having any ties or donating to the World Wildlife Fund. The World Wildlife Fund also denied receiving any money from DiCaprio. The actor’s foundation, named after himself and created in 1998, is dedicated to combating climate change. In 2018, DiCaprio’s foundation said it would match recurring donations for the entire year of 2019. 

“While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted. I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians,” the actor said. 

This isn’t the first time Bolsonaro has claimed that NGOs, rather than illegal farming and logging, is the cause of the deforestation in the Amazon. In August, he said “everything indicates,” NGOs were starting the fires, according to Reuters. 

Two major organizations issue statements regarding Bolsonaro’s attack on NGOs. 

Two of the largest environmental groups in the Amazon, Global Wildlife Conservation and IUCN Species Survival Commission released statements calling out the president. 

“We are alarmed by recent events that seek to undermine this progress. In the past few days, false accusations have been made to undermine environmental defenders and distract the general public from policies that directly lead to environmental disasters like those across the Amazon earlier this year,” GWC said in a statement. 

The IUCN also defended NGOs and environmental activists from the ire of the rightwing leader saying, “environmental defenders, whether in local communities, NGOs, or government agencies, should be afforded with the highest protection of the law in Brazil.” 

Activists speak out against Bolsonaro’s continued targeting of environmental groups. 

Bolsonaro decreased NGO funding after taking office. Under his administration, Amazon fires have peaked, increasing by 83%, with INPE recording 72,843 fires in 2019 as of August. Many advocates believe Bolsonaro’s attacks are a diversion from his administration’s negligence and considerable dismantling of protections for the rainforest. 

“This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement,” Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator, told Reuters. “Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.”

The increase in fires is more accurately attributed to farmers clearing the land for cattle — an act Bolsonaro seemed to encourage.

“NGOs working in the Amazon do not use fire in farming. On the contrary, they encourage rural communities to avoid fire,” climate scientist, Carlos Nobre, told Reuters. 

Mexico Is Rated The 2nd Most Dangerous Country On Earth For Trans People, But Mexico City Is Moving To Protect Trans Youth

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Mexico Is Rated The 2nd Most Dangerous Country On Earth For Trans People, But Mexico City Is Moving To Protect Trans Youth

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mexico City has long been a hub for some of the more progressive policies to take hold in Mexico. Despite being the capital of a largely conservative and religious country, the capital has enacted several much-needed human rights policies that have helped some of the nation’s most at-risk populations.

From becoming the first city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (in 2009) to being the only city in the country to offer legal on-demand abortion (from 2007 until Oaxaca also decriminalized it in September 2019), Mexico City has been a leader for progressive values.

And it’s been leading the cause for transgender rights for years. So news that the city government was planning additional protections for transgender Mexicans, didn’t surprise many but has still managed to spur some protests.

The Mexico City law would allow youth to change their legal names and gender to match those of their identity.

Children in Mexico City might soon be able to legally change their name and gender through a “quick” formality at a government office.

A proposal to allow minors to change the details on their birth certificates with the authorization of one of their parents will be presented in the Mexico City Congress next week after it won support from two congressional committees.

Nineteen lawmakers voted in favor of the bill while just three voted against it. The Morena party-backed bill proposes changing Mexico City’s civil code to enable transgender children and adolescents to change their name and gender by completing an administrative procedure at civil registry offices.

To do so they would have to be accompanied by either their mother, father or legal guardian.

Morena Deputy Paola Soto, one of the bill’s two main proponents, said the proposed law would guarantee the rights of transgender minors. “. . . Above all, it doesn’t imply a revictimizing judicial process as is now in force,” Soto said.

Allowing children to choose gender is all about respect.

Credit: NurPhoto

Those who identify as a gender that doesn’t “match” the sex they were born with pose no threat to anyone.

Just because Mexico has other, bigger problems doesn’t mean that we need to ignore all the ones we consider smaller in the meantime. If we can help children to accept themselves and be respected by others by giving them the legitimacy of a standardized bureaucratic procedure, then it should do that.

The statistics are clear: any kind of gender or sexual identity “deviance” is correlated with sky-high rates of depression, suicide and self-harm . . . and that’s just on the individual level. Family estrangement, abuse and homelessness are also too prevalent in this population. Then of course there’s the run-of-the-mill everyday discrimination they face by society at large.

However, the proposal isn’t without its opponents who have taken to the streets to protest.

Credit: National Front For The Family

A coalition of anti-abortion and other groups protested outside the city council building Tuesday, holding signs reading “No to The Trans Law,” and “Don’t Confuse Children.”

They argued children cannot be expected to make such a decision.

The bill also faces opposition from lawmakers with the other three major parties but Morena (the current President’s political party) has a majority in the 66-seat unicameral Congress.

National Action Party Deputy Christian von Roehrich said that only the federal Congress is authorized to make civil code changes as per a Supreme Court ruling.

Mexico City has a long history of taking progressive values and turning them into concrete policies.

Credit: Animal Politico

From becoming the first city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (in 2009) to being the only city in the country to offer legal on-demand abortion (from 2007 until Oaxaca also decriminalized it in September 2019), Mexico City has been a leader for progressive values.

The city has also lead the battle for transgender rights and is even piloting a program to provide a monthly stipend to more than 100 trans individuals so that they can have proper access to medical care and hormone replacement therapy.

However, the city and country still suffer from extreme violence targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Credit: NurPhoto

According to the Mexico Global Impunity Index, 99 percent of all crimes in the country go unpunished. This shocking level of impunity adds up to lethal equation for the trans community, which already faces widespread social prejudice. The organization Transgender Europe documented 217 murders of trans men and women in Mexico between 2008 and 2016, ranking it the second deadliest country in the world for trans people after Brazil. Rocio Suárez, a spokesperson from the Mexico City-based pressure group Center of Support for Trans Identities, tells Broadly that 12 trans people have been killed in October of this year alone.