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LGBTQ Plus

Meet The First Transgender Legislator In The Philippines

Geraldine Roman, a 49-year-old former journalist, survived a brutal campaign to win a seat in the national legislature — and a place in Filipino history.

On the trail
On the trail
Madonna Virola

CALAPAN — In the heat and dust of summer, Geraldine Roman campaigned for Congress in pearl necklaces and lipstick, and the yellow shirt of her party, the governing Liberals. In the end she won, though not before enduring a barrage of political mudslinging and character assassination attempts by rival candidates.

As a transgender person in a predominantly Catholic country, Roman was an easy target. Her victory was a remarkable accomplishment and political breakthrough for the Philippines. "At the start, my opponents tried to make an issue of my gender. But it turns out that people don't care. Their type of politics was one of hatred and bigotry," she says.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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