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Daniela Pastrana

How I Learned To Call You 'Son' — A Mother's Awakening To A Non-Binary World

Journalist Daniela Pastrana thought she knew how to be a mother — until her child came out as non-binary. Pastrana's journey to acceptance took her through Mexican history and deep into herself and her own prejudices.

MEXICO — While Gen Z is generally more aware that biology and gender identity are not necessarily connected, their families have a long way to go to learn — or unlearn — old habits and a new language to communicate with.

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Journalist Daniela Pastrana took us into the privacy of her own home, as she travels to the ancestral roots of Mexico and talks with experts in search of answers on how to be a non-binary mother.

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Esther Peñas

Beyond Sexile: A Happier LGBTQ+ Reality Takes Root In Rural Spain

In contrast to the "sexile" of the past, LGBTQ+ people are living increasingly rural areas. Although everything is far from idyllic in the countryside, huge strides of progress have been made.

BURGOS — Villages and small towns are no longer what it used to be for LGBTQ+ people. A few decades ago, LGBTQ+ people could only move to a big city if they wanted to live openly or connect with other people like them. 'Sexile' refers to a person who has to leave the place where they live when the degree of persecution, harassment or discomfort is too much.

According to the Andalusian Observatory against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the main problems that plague LGBTQ+ people in Spain's small towns are the constraints of heterosexuality and heteronormativity, societal control (gossip, denigrating nicknames, mockery...), a degree of overprotection because they are considered fragile or weak, internalized LGBTQ+ phobia, and self-esteem issues.

Paulino D., from rural Spain, is 75 years old and example of someone who suffered because of his sexuality.

"All my life I have lived in a village of about 500 inhabitants near Burgos, hiding the fact that I liked men," he said. "When I did my military service, they threw boiling oil on my back to make me a man. I had to go to the dive bars in Aranda to meet men, most of the time it was just quick kisses and the occasional fondling."

Paulino says life for a gay man in the countryside has left him with "the feeling of having been something foul, a pervert. That's why I decided to come to a nursing home, where at least I am taken care of."

But luckily, new stories are also being written in rural Spain.

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Leone Orvieto

Call It "Retransitioning": Why Words Matter So Much In The Debate Around Trans Teens

Cases of transgender people deciding to re-identify with the gender assigned at birth are very rare, but regularly cited as so-called "detransitioning" to support anti-trans arguments around treatment for youth suffering from gender dysphoria.


ROME — The discussion around gender transition in teenagers increasingly includes the term "detransition." This refers to individuals who identified as transgender and began their journey of gender affirmation, but later decided to re-identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, sometimes after having undergone surgery or changing their legal documents.

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An article in the International Journal for Transgender Health emphasizes that this process should be referred to as "retransition" to reflect the fact that individuals are not "going back" but are instead making a further transition.

The reasons for gender retransition vary greatly from person to person: they may be influenced by family, financial, social, health, religious or even ideological factors. Some individuals stop their gender affirmation process because it is too difficult, even though they know it is the right path for them. These individuals may refer to themselves as "desisters" or "quitters" to explain their decision.

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In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #42 — Beyond Sexile

July 17 - July 23, 2023

This is the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from the best international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Bao Bao

A Dark Journey Into Hong Kong's World Of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

As advocates in Hong Kong work to spread the word that being LGBTQ+ is not an illness, conversion therapy centers like New Creation continue to harm and traumatize those who want to get "out of the gay life." Members of the LGBTQ+ community struggle to reconcile their faith and their orientation in a society that continues to be institutionally homophobic.

HONG KONG — Alvin Zhang has kept a diary for 18 years.

Flipping through the pages, he sees where he wrote, in large letters, "Weak emotion vs strong reason" at the top of the page. "There are two of me; one of me is actually so evil," he writes on one page. "I hate this 'me', I have to deal with this 'me'", "I am so hurt inside," he continues.

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Francesca Del Vecchio

Milan Forced To Stop Registering Babies Of Same-Sex Couples

Milan will now only allow the registration of biological parents. The city had been one of the few in Italy to recognize same-sex parents, but it was overruled by the country's conservative government.

MILAN — There will be no more official registration of children born to same-sex couples in Milan. After an attempt at resistance, Mayor Beppe Sala was forced to step back following a request from conservative Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Milan had been one of the few cities in Italy to automatically recognize at the registry office the parenthood of same-sex couples who became parents through heterologous fertilization or surrogacy abroad. The decision to discontinue this practice was announced by Sala on Monday. The certificates made so far remain valid.

The current legislation does not specifically prohibit this practice, but it does not mention this possibility either, which is why some cities, like Milan, decided to enact special laws to allow it.

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Nakisanze Segawa & Beatrice Lamwaka

Anti-Gay Law Leaves Nowhere To Turn For Uganda’s LGBTQ+

Disowned by their families, evicted by their landlords, and persecuted by the state, LGBTQ Ugandans have fewer and fewer places to turn.

KAMPALA — Just two days after the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in March, Sam received a call. Her landlord asked her to leave the house she had been renting for almost two years in Kyebando-Kanyanya village, about 4 miles from Kampala.

When Sam, a lesbian who prefers to be identified by one name for fear of stigmatization, asked why she was being evicted, her landlord asked to meet her the following day in the presence of the local chairman (a village leader). She declined, asking for a one-on-one meeting. At the meeting, Sam’s landlord told her that her son, a human rights lawyer, warned her the new law would punish landlords who rent rooms to “homosexuals.”

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Horacio Convertini

Born Intersex, Mutilated To Become "Normal"

María Candelaria Schamun's body tells a dramatic, brutal story. The pages of her heartbreaking new book hold the memory of her pain, her scars, of the screams she muffled and finally let rip.

"Within my mutilated body lives another being. An erased being. A disappeared being. My body is a plural one, a shelved ID card, a court file, the loneliness of a hospital room. I inhabit a body that was baptized as Esteban, the name of the first martyr of Catholicism. I am Candelaria. I am Esteban. I am both," writes Schamun in Ese que fui, expediente de una rebelión corporal, or "The one I was, the record of a corporeal rebellion."

At 41, after having worked in visual and TV journalism with great talent and passion, Schamun now lives in a Buenos Aires town with 1,000 inhabitants, surrounded by dogs, horses and chickens.

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Her life with her partner, the vegetable garden and a quiet rhythm of routine has perhaps been as healing as the testimony she has finally been able to put into words after almost a lifetime of silences.

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Maria Korcz

Catholic, Pride, Capitalism? How LGBTQ+ Branding Plays In Conservative Poland

More businesses are advertising with rainbow flags, but has this made any real difference or prompted social change in conservative-Catholic Poland?

WARSAW — June is not only Pride month, but also the season of rainbow marketing, when businesses unveil LGBTQ-friendly logos, write press releases promising solidarity or offer special discounts.

On one hand, this is a gesture of solidarity from businesses. But on the other, it can also be seen as appropriation of an important symbol of the queer community, or shallow support in pursuit of profit — "pinkwashing," or "Rainbow capitalism." It's a relatively new phenomenon in Poland, and these questions are particularly pressing in the often conservative, Catholic country, where the LGBTQ+ community faces a lack of legal protections and social acceptance.

Pride Month is marked in June to recognize the Stonewall Inn Uprising in New York City in June 1969 — events which in many ways marked the beginning of the contemporary LGBTQ+ rights movement, in the U.S. and worldwide.

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Poland's first pride march took place more than 20 years ago, in Warsaw in 2001. Today, pride parades are held in several cities in Poland.

With each passing Pride Month, more businesses join the celebrations. Many have noticed that it pays to be an ally — or more specifically, that supporting LGBTQ+ Poles can bring a company successful PR, and more earnings as a result.

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Assia Neumann Dayan

Meloni And Schlein As Pregnant Activists? What's Wrong With This Italian Picture

Artist aleXsandro Palombo's mural of Italian politicians Elly Schlein and Giorgia Meloni as pregnant, tattooed activists elicits conversation about policies surrounding female bodily autonomy.


MILAN — In Piazza San Babila, near the Duomo, the artist aleXsandro Palombo has designed a mural representing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Democratic Party leader Elly Schlein nude, tattooed and pregnant.

Elly Schlein is depicted with the words "my uterus my choice" on her stomach, and Giorgia Meloni dons the words "not for rent" on her stomach — both phrases in English. Schlein, who came out as bisexual in 2020, has the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag on her shoulder, while Meloni has the tricolor flame of Italy’s flag on hers.

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If we want to describe reality through the lens of our modern sensibility, then I hope someone writes "mansplaining" under the artist's signature. On his Instagram profile, Palombo uploaded photos of the mural and wrote in both English and Italian, “Surrogate motherhood - ‘Power is Female’ the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and opposition leader Elly Schlein challenge each other.”

It seems to me that this is such a light reading of the situation that it becomes impalpable. Talking about "complexity" is quite different from recognizing it. If it is my uterus, my choice, it means that I may or may not be in favor of surrogacy: this too is a matter of self-determination.

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Laura Berlinghieri

Italy's Crackdown On Same-Sex Parents Could Retroactively Dissolve Families

A new measure from the right-wing government could force same-sex parents of children already in elementary school to suddenly lose their parental rights and status.

PADUA — High on the list of priorities for the far-right government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been targeting the rights of same-sex couples with children.

In March, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala was ordered to stop independently registering same-sex couples as parents of newborns, in accordance with an Italian high court ruling that only the court can rubber-stamp legal recognition of a same-sex parent. This new enforcement involves halting the legal registration of children of same-sex parents, compromising the children’s ability to access education and medical care.

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This week, the crackdown has gone one step further in the northern city of Padua, where 33 families with same-sex mothers now risk losing basic recognition of parental status for their children.

The documents that the families have received in recent days contain the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office for the alteration of their children’s birth certificates years after their children have been born, with some of them already in primary school.. The administration's policy seeks to make only the biological parent the legal caretaker, leaving the other parent with no rights over their own children.

This is being enforced retroactively by Meloni's government, as the birth certificates of children who are already enrolled in primary school may need to be changed.

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New Survey Of LGBTQ+ Russians Finds Steep Rise In Homophobia Since War Began

When the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, fears were widespread that an already hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community could get much worse. A new survey finds those fears were more than justified.

MOSCOW — Soon after Russia launched its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin passed a law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” It was just one of many signs that the war would likely be even crueler for the LGBTQ+ community than other Russians. A new survey by the Russian LGBTQ+ rights organizations Vykhod (literally “Coming Out”) and Sphereconfirms the bad news — on multiple fronts.

According to the survey released this week, 83% of LGBTQ+ respondents said Russian society has become more homophobic since the outbreak of the war. Of those surveyed, 39% also reported experiencing a steep rise rise in hate speech originating from both pro-government media and government officials, further exacerbating the already challenging situation.

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The most recent in a series of examples of dangerous information was a segment on the country's largest TV news program, Russia 1, that drew false comparisons between transgender individuals and criminals.

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