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Chess teacher Melisa welcoming kids at the door
Chess teacher Melisa welcoming kids at the door
Johanna Chiefo

BUENOS AIRES - The July winter vacation was coming to a close and José’s decision was maturing: he would simply tear down what remained of the “closet” he'd slowly been coming out of. So on July 30, José arrived at the elementary school that he works at in Buenos Aires as "Melisa," and became the city's first ever transgender teacher.

Weeks earlier he had met with school administrators to inform them of his decision: “I have an obligation to be coherent with my deepest sentiments that are leading me to take this step in my life, a life that will never be lived to the fullest if I don’t show the essence of my own being. And my being is profoundly feminine.”

Why now? Melisa feels that it is time to be herself in the workplace. Also, on May 9, the Senate passed a law on gender identity that allows individuals to adapt their national ID documents and birth certificates based on a gender choice.

Melisa has been a teacher for the past 22 years, specializing in optional chess workshops. Watch footage and interview of Melisa here She teaches 12 different classes in different public schools around the city, with students from second to fifth grade.

Her students have always known her as José; now she is Melisa. Thin, very tall and with dazzling finger nails, she is proud of the acceptance she got from her daughters (aged 21 and 16) and the rest of her family, who confirmed their own suspicions after seeing Melisa dressed as a woman in photos that Melisa had decided to show them.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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