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"In the next enclosure you'll find...

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"In the next enclosure you'll find 'calendar entries' sadly we don't have any real entries at this zoo, and these ones are mostly just scheduled trips to the pub for lunch"

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bluebec
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Angriest comic yet I think...🤔 - Thanks to everyone...

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Angriest comic yet I think...🤔 - Thanks to everyone who alerts me to this kinda thing when it happens, and for all jumping in with a variety of outraged comments! 💪👌🙌

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bluebec
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10 Incredibly Beautiful Animal Tattoos That Will Inspire You To Get Inked

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Cat on a wire tattoo on a woman

We picked up the the ones we truly loved

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Tagged: art , animals , tattoos
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bluebec
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almostanastronaut:Steven Greenberg, “Wrestling with God and Men”...

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almostanastronaut:

Steven Greenberg, “Wrestling with God and Men” - Author’s conversation with Rabbi Eliashiv in Jerusalem

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bluebec
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ameel
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Melbourne, Australia
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How The Museum of Transology Is Breaking New Ground

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Five years ago, the average person would not have understood the meaning of the word ‘trans’.

But since the ‘trans tipping point’ in 2014, the gender spectrum has entered mainstream culture more than ever before. Plays with trans characters such as the Olivier-winning Rotterdam have taken the West End by storm, while films including The Danish Girl, TV shows such as BBC’s Boy Meets Girl and 21st-century trans icons Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner have dominated screen time.

Yet the public rarely see beyond the celebrity media circus or portrayals of trans people in entertainment. Until now.

The Museum of Transology exhibition at London Fashion Space Gallery is presenting genuine stories of trans people. It is the largest collection of trans artefacts and photographs ever displayed, with more than 120 items.

Explaining his motivation behind the museum, Curator E-J Scott said: “There has been a wider recognition of trans or non-binary people, but this has been mainstream ideas of who we are, such as your Caitlyn Jenners who have this “before and after” experience, which most don’t have. It’s been read as an expression of alternate sexualities. Because of this, transcestry has been overlooked in museums.”

He notes a resulting trend of trans people feeling excluded from heritage sector jobs. “If you don’t see yourself in a museum, why would you think you’d be welcome to work there? This is why lots of transcestry has been lost – you need trans eyes to locate trans identities.

“This collection is a challenge to museums to not miss this increase in awareness. We’re in danger of overlooking this moment in time too.”

He is adamant, however, that this societal change was not down to representations of trans people in the cis media.

I don’t think this project has been made possible just because cisgendered people know what trans is. Trans communities are being confident enough to say ‘this is my gender identity’. Trans people are finding each other, online and at Pride festivals, so when I had this idea word got out quickly, and people started donating things.

The community made the set too. It provided a space where we could heal and create something beautiful.

At the exhibition, members of a university LGBTQ+ society bump into each other. One congratulated another, happily shocked about the progress of their transition: “Your face is changing, your voice is deeper!” The room instantly became a safe space for community and support, just as train tickets to Pride events and their merch are a common feature of the display.

Richard Sandell, Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, agrees the Museum of Transology is breaking new ground. “In 2005, when I started looking for museum narratives on gender diversity, examples were scarce.

My research suggests these exciting portrayals of transgender lives would not have been possible ten or even five years ago. Now curators are acknowledging the potential for more inclusive narratives.”

But why are museums so crucial in rights struggles?

Museums don’t operate in a vacuum”, he explains. “They not only reflect social norms but shape conversations society has about difference. They inform the climate within which groups engaged in equality struggles can exercise their rights.”

He cites that the potential for museums to impact visitors emotionally needs to be harnessed, as this can move people to protest and enforce wider change.

And it’s a change that is drastically needed. The exhibition demonstrates that UK society is not adapting quickly enough. Trans hate crimes have nearly doubled in the last five years. Almost one in three have been attacked or threatened more than three times in the past year. One in three trans people have experienced homelessness. Three trans women have died after being held in male prisons in the last two years.

Mr Scott suggests that excluding a group from museum representation hinders their chance to make sense of their place in a world that may not always be welcoming. His exhibition seeks to offer them roots.

Museums should help you look to the past to locate yourself and understand why you are in the world in the way that you are, so you can build a responsible future”.

He adds that challenging the binary archival system is the key to improving trans inclusion. “We need ways of archiving that don’t posit there’s only a male and female experience.

How do you archive someone who identifies as being assigned female at birth but is male? When they were made to wear a girl’s uniform at school, are you going to say those photos from 20 years ago are of a girl?”

Professor Sandell says public portrayals of trans lives created by trans people themselves are important. “These hold the potential to counter negative, stereotypical accounts of trans identities,” he says.

It is putting control in the hands of trans people which makes the Museum of Transology profoundly emotive.

I decided to have handwritten tags attached to the objects, so the donor would be in control of their own narrative. It’s not the cis media explaining what trans identities are – these are real people’s stories,” says Scott.

This personal touch, complete with endearing spelling and grammar mistakes, creates the sense that the donors are speaking to you in their own voices – a powerful way to present stories that many may not have engaged with before.

And it’s clear the public agree. The exhibition has been overwhelmingly popular – Scott notes that it’s the busiest exhibition they’ve had at the London College of Fashion.

I’ve been inundated with requests from around the world to donate more objects. There’s been interest in having the museum go on tour. But I want to find a permanent home so the collection is preserved. It’s complicated to save.”

The complexity doesn’t stop there. It is a challenging topic to get right, perhaps explaining why so few museums have explored it. Just last year London’s Science Museum was forced to rethink its ‘Who Am I?’ exhibition when it caused controversy by asking visitors to test whether they have a ‘pink’ or ‘blue’ brain, reinforcing stereotypes.

Granted, some items in the Museum of Transology are quite visceral – you can see how it could offend a more delicate viewer’s sensibilities. Yet it is unabashed. Its brochure’s cover features a breast in a jar, proclaiming the truth of trans life from the off.

The exhibition is unapologetically great,” says Scott. “It is a bold display of the variations in trans people’s lives. There was no editorial process – whatever anyone wanted to donate, they were allowed to donate, hence the diversity of the objects, from everyday items to challenging ones.”

Intersectionality was an important component of this diversity, too. “There are people who aren’t just trans, they’re trans and black and Muslim and differently-abled, and this complicates life,’ Scott explains. “We tried to represent that this cuts across all sections of society.”

The set includes wardrobes of clothes, and bathroom cabinets filled with make-up and toiletries – a process of getting ready that everyone can relate to – and the ‘lounge room’ of hobbies containing ballet shoes and swimming goggles, for instance. But it also proudly displays plaster casts for gender confirmation surgery, hormones, and surgical items from Scott’s own chest operation, such as syringes, the hospital gown and a bloody binder, as well what he calls “the bits that caused my lactose intolerance” – the preserved breast tissue.

This humour echoes throughout the exhibition. A tag on a small ‘pack and pee’ prosthetic reads: ‘I became more ambitious with age!’ One card mentions works from a comedic film group such as A Cismas Carol and ‘a re-imagining of the nativity story’ (featuring a pregnant Marcus and his wife Josephine). The writer notes that trans characters are often used as ‘cheap punchlines’  – this collection gives the opportunity for humour to trans people themselves.

There are heartwarming stories, such as one man’s experience on hormones: ‘Sustanon 250 is the best thing to happen to me apart from my wife and son! It’s made me the husband and father I always wanted to be.’

But the collection ultimately offers a heartbreaking insight into the struggles many trans people face, such as being misgendered and the difficult process of transitioning. The struggle to get the correct medical care is evident in the hormone tags, often leading to potentially dangerous self-medicating. The brown travel tags in the exhibition are a metaphor for this gender journey. Yet cis people go on a journey too.

Scott says: “I wanted to end with the hat stand where people could write their own tag and understand gender on a spectrum is not just about trans people. We are still struggling, despite three waves of feminism, to disassociate gender from gender roles.

The trans experience and feminism are aligned, despite the backlash from TERFs [Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists]. The trans fight is about ensuring gender equality for everyone.”

This idea has never been more prevalent. Women’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray recently came under fire for saying trans women are not ‘real women’, just as outspoken feminist Germaine Greer did in 2015, and there has been a turn against the so-called ‘transgender lobby’. But that ‘lobby’ is ready to fight back. The Museum of Transology is just the start.

// Glossary //

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bluebec
2 days ago
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How Rola Sleiman became the first Arab female pastor | Lebanon

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Tripoli, Lebanon - To anyone's knowledge, Rola Sleiman is the first female pastor in the entirety of the Arab Christian world.

It's a straightforward tale: a young churchgoing girl decides to study theology in university, and upon graduation returns to the church of her youth in Tripoli, Lebanon. The only twist is that she is the first woman to reach such a vocation.

"I didn't really have it in my head to become a pastor," says Sleiman as she sat in Tripoli's National Evangelist Presbyterian Church. And yet, she became an officially ordained pastor on February 26, 2017 - a historic appointment for a role which had previously been restricted to men.

It's evident that Pastor Sleiman's direct demeanour and good humour helped pave her path to the pulpit. She stands at the podium, making sure her pants are hidden while she jokes with the church's organ player. "I'm getting photographed in my jeans - it's going to scandalise our congregation!" she laughs.

WATCH: Lebanon's women warriors

Explaining how she fell into the role of the first female pastor, she recalls the initial circumstances which brought her to this point. "The way everything turned out, looking back, I think it was God's will to make this statement."

She says this tentatively, processing the enormity of her ordainment.

This is my church, and I wasn't going to leave it,

Rola Sleiman

Sleiman didn't come from exceptionally devout roots: Her parents were Evangelist Presbyterian churchgoers, but not more religious than the average household. She attributes her theological path to a teenage phase, when, like many her age, she began questioning: She wanted answers, so she read.

"I read the Bible, the Quran, the Old Testament … and I was convinced with my faith. I'm not saying it's the 'Truth' for everyone, but to me, this is where I felt convinced."

Her path was clear at an age where most teenagers struggle with their purpose. When Sleiman was 17, she applied to be adopted by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the denominational umbrella which forms the Evangelical Presbyterian federations throughout the Levant.

The Synod adopted her and subsequently sponsored her degree in Theology and Christian Education.

Upon graduation, she had the option to serve in several of the Synod's churches around Lebanon, including in her hometown of Tripoli. Sleiman was drawn to Tripoli and the church she had grown up attending. "I felt there was something that I had to do here, in my hometown … I just felt that I had to go."

It was a gut feeling which proved accurate. In 2006, George Bitar, the pastor of the church which Sleiman grew up attending, left the country to travel. Having formal theological training qualified Sleiman to take on the task of leading Sunday services on a temporary basis.

However, as the 2006 July War with Israel erupted in Lebanon, Bitar was unable to book a flight home, and Sleiman ended up conducting services for six months.

When Pastor Bitar returned, it was brief. He had attained a visa to the United States, and in 2008 moved there with his family for good. In the absence of an appointed pastor for the church, Sleiman continued as interim minister, building a relationship with her congregation as time passed.

"This is my church and I wasn't going to leave it," she says with conviction.

Still, as Reverend Sleiman was not an officially ordained pastor, difficulties manifested. She was unable to perform sacraments or baptisms without supervision from an ordained cleric in the Synod - male supervision.

Additionally, the Synod's committees, a collection of elders and pastors from across Syria and Lebanon, could not vote on a number of issues without the presence of an ordained representative from Tripoli.

READ MORE: Sexism in Lebanon - Different and unequal

Tripoli's National Evangelist Presbyterian Church needed a pastor. It was time for the Synod to officially appoint a representative so decisions could be made.

When the church was asked who they wanted to represent the congregation, the answer was obvious. After years of being interim minister, "My church was used to me. They didn't think of me in terms of gender, as a woman or a man. I served them, doing visitations, preaching well, and I convinced them through my service," says Sleiman.

Ultimately, the vote to ordain Reverend Sleiman passed in the Synod 23 to one, with remarkably little resistance.

The city of Tripoli, known as "the second capital of Lebanon", has been heavily affected by the neighbouring civil war in Syria, with sectarian fighting and car bombs making news headlines. Furthermore, in 2014, assailants set fire to Tripoli's Christian-owned Saeh Library and torched up to two-thirds of the library's 80,000 books and manuscripts in what was reported as a religiously motivated attack.

But mainstream media has depicted her beloved city in a skewed light, insists Sleiman, by focusing on distorted sectarian divisions and a small number of youth that join organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

While Lebanon's delicate confessional system has historically suffered due to sectarian divisions and civil strife, Sleiman believes in representing her denomination peacefully. "To me, it was about pastoring our small group, in order to take care of it and ensure [our] continuity," she says.

Tripoli is a historically diverse city, but its Christian population dwindled during Lebanon's 15-yearlong civil war, that began in 1975. Heavy economic burdens intermingled with religious tension, leading many to immigrate. Christians now make up an estimated six percent of the population in Tripoli.

Evangelical Presbyterians are a tiny denomination spread across Lebanon and Syria, and representing their presence is a significant factor in Pastor Sleiman's decision to lead and foster her congregation in its current location, which consists of approximately 33 families.

Although there is an Evangelical Presbyterian sister-school on the outskirts of town, the National Evangelical Church itself is situated in the centre of the old city, surrounded and well-known among the majority Muslim shopkeepers in the neighbourhood.

READ MORE: 'A Day Without a Woman' strike aims to raise awareness

Her congregation is on great terms with the surrounding community, asserts Sleiman. "I can't imagine living in any other city," she says. "The people [of Tripoli] are so supportive."

Being the first female pastor in the Arab world is a responsibility that at times seems ordinary to Sleiman; other times the enormity of the historic appointment weighs on her.

"The title hasn't added to anything I wasn't already doing. On the other hand, I feel there are so many more eyes on me, like people are waiting either for me to succeed or fail."

Beyond the historic religious decision, Sleiman has been thrust into the position of promoting gender equality in Lebanese society through her work.

Lebanon's delicate political structure has left much to be desired politically, especially for women, who frequently bear the brunt of most socioeconomic problems. The month of March marks International Women's Day every March 8.

This year, as hundreds of women marched the streets of Beirut to demand equal rights, Rev Sleiman began her role as an officially ordained pastor in Tripoli.

Reverend Sleiman, who has a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother, was born and lived in Tripoli all her life and considers herself Lebanese, but does not have Lebanese nationality. Because Lebanese mothers cannot pass on their nationality to their children, Sleiman must periodically renew her Syrian passport and residency permit to maintain legal status in Lebanon.

"We have laws that oppress women," she says, while clarifying her position against the oppression of all peoples. "It's time to leave all that behind."

"Some people would tell you my ordination happened late. I think, better late than never. At least a door has opened," Sleiman muses. "These doors need to be opened everywhere."

Pastor Sleiman's strides are not lost upon her. "Alhamdulillah," she says, using the Arabic word which both Christians and Muslims use to denote "Thank God". 

Source: Al Jazeera

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bluebec
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