As cases of monkeypox virus surge in the U.S., the Biden administration will start distributing the monkeypox vaccine across the country, focusing on people most at risk and communities with the highest numbers of cases, White House officials announced Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will send 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine immediately to areas with high transmission. An additional 240,000 doses will be distributed over the next few weeks, with even more to come this summer and fall. Officials expect to make at least 1.6 million doses available by the end of the fall.
“We are recommending that vaccines be provided to both people with known monkeypox exposures who are contacted by public health and also to those people who’ve been recently exposed to monkeypox,” the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a news briefing Tuesday.
The CDC is prioritizing initial access to the vaccine for people who have been in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has diagnosed with the virus. The agency will also provide vaccines to men who have sex with men who report having had multiple recent sex partners at a venue or party where the virus is known to have spread, or who have had sex with multiple partners in an area of the country with elevated spread.
The vast majority of confirmed monkeypox cases, both in the U.S. and in the global outbreak as a whole, have been among men who have sex with men.
While case numbers continue to rise in the U.S., the White House Covid-19 coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, seemed hopeful the U.S. could contain the outbreak and said it was important to remain vigilant.
“Monkeypox is not novel,” Jha said at the briefing. “We as a global community have known about it for decades. We know how it spreads. We have tests that help identify people who are infected. We have vaccines that are highly effective against it.”
The U.S. monkeypox outbreak was first detected in Massachusetts in May, after a person who had been traveling tested positive. Since then, the virus has been spreading around the country, with more than 306 cases in 28 states, according to the CDC. But because of limitations with testing for the virus, it’s likely the U.S. is significantly undercounting the numbers of infections, experts say.
“We’ve already lost control of this outbreak,” said David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “We think there’s many more cases, and we need to act now to get control of this outbreak.”
New York City and Washington, D.C., were among the first cities to begin vaccinating at-risk groups for monkeypox, including men who have sex with men reporting multiple partners or at least one anonymous partner within 14 days. With just 1,000 doses from the CDC to distribute at one clinic, New York, which began administering shots on June 23, quickly ran out.
It was a similar situation in Washington, where health officials announced Monday that they would also start vaccinating at-risk groups. The 300 available appointments were taken in less than an hour after the online booking system went live.
Health officials on Wednesday recommended that men in Florida who have sex with other men get a meningococcal vaccine following what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.”
The CDC said in a statement that there have been at least 24 cases and seven deaths among gay and bisexual men caused by the bacteria in Florida recently. The CDC also recommended that gay and bisexual men traveling to Florida should ask their health care provider about getting the vaccine.
A federal court in Georgia ruled Thursday that employers who categorically exclude gender-affirming medical care from health insurance coverage violate federal law.
Anna Lange, a transgender woman and sheriff’s deputy in Houston County, Georgia, sued in 2019 after she was denied coverage for a vaginoplasty in November 2018.
The Sheriff’s Office provides health care coverage to employees through the county plan, which, beginning in 1998, excluded coverage for talk therapy related to gender dysphoria, gender-affirming hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries, according to the opinion released Thursday.
Chief Judge Marc Treadwell, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, wrote in the opinion that the exclusion “plainly discriminates because of transgender status,” and as a result violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin and other protected categories.
He pointed to evidence that showed Houston County’s health care plan, provided through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, would provide hormone therapy for menopause and surgery for breast cancer, but it would not provide the same procedures as treatment for gender dysphoria.
“The undisputed, ultimate point is that the Exclusion applies only to transgender members, and it applies to Lange because she is transgender,” Treadwell wrote, citing a landmark Supreme Court decision in June 2020, which found that Title VII’s protection from discrimination based on sex also includes gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination.
The opinion also noted that, in 2016, Houston County’s insurance broker, who acted as a liaison between the county and Anthem, informed the county that Anthem would no longer categorically exclude coverage for treatments related to gender dysphoria as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557, which prohibits discrimination based on sex and other characteristics.
“Despite Anthem’s recommendation to do so, the County chose not to accept the nondiscrimination mandate,” according to the opinion.
A representative for Houston County did not immediately return a request for comment.
Lange, who was represented in part by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement that it’s “a huge relief to know that I can finally receive the medically necessary care that I was repeatedly and unfairly denied.”
“I can confidently move forward with my life knowing that gender affirming care is protected under federal law,” she said. “This decision is not only a personal victory, but a tremendous step forward for all transgender Southerners who are seeking insurance coverage for medically necessary care.”
LGBTQ survivors of sexual abuse are often blamed for causing their own abuse or are subsequently accused of wanting to molest kids, a new report has found.
The U.K.-based Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) — a non-governmental investigative organization that recommends policies to protect children — interviewed 31 LGBTQ survivors of child sexual abuse and 31 organizations that aid LGBTQ survivors to better understand their experiences.
The IICSA report found that when queer people reported being sexually abused as kids, they received “poor responses” based on “stereotypical attitudes about sexual orientation.”
Some victims and survivors were told that their gender identity or sexual orientation either caused the abuse or resulted from it. If a queer person is targeted by a predator while exploring LGBTQ identities in an online forum — something queer youth do in response to the lack of LGBTQ resources in communities and schools — victim-blamers will say that the queer person “brought it on themselves” for being curious about their identities.
“If we are LGBTQ because a man abused us [then] ‘we are blaming all men’ or if we got abused by a woman we ‘are confused’,” one female survivor of sexual abuse told the IICSA.
“I’ve been asked whether I’m non-binary specifically because I experienced child sexual abuse, and whether I’m turning my discomfort with my body from the sexual abuse into a gender issue that isn’t really there,” another non-binary person told the inquiry.
Even worse, there’s a myth that abused people go on to abuse other kids, something that keeps gay and straight men from reporting their own abuse for fear of being considered a pedophile.
Sex abuse can force LGBTQ survivors to have to reckon with their gender identities and sexual orientations before they’re ready. This, combined with internalized queerphobia and the societal stigma remaining from the HIV epidemic, all make life much harder for survivors.
Some people won’t disclose their experiences with traditional support networks like family, friends, religious peers or work colleagues for fear that they’ll be rejected or shamed for their queer identities. The media also perpetuates narratives about “gay pedophiles”, cis-male perpetrators and cis-female victims being the norm.
Additionally, few mental health professionals are specifically trained to work with LGBTQ survivors, raising the risk that survivors will face additional stigma and shame even if they do seek out counseling services.
The report noted that queer people in the U.K. still live under the shadow of Section 28, a now-repealed law that banned “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” One of the key arguments used to pass the law was that queer people sexually prey on children.
The U.S. is undergoing a similar cultural shift, in which anyone who wishes to acknowledge the existence of queer people in classrooms is labeled as a “groomer.” Actual “grooming” occurs when sexual predators use manipulative behaviors to gain access to potential victims, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of getting caught, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Abuse survivors in the U.S. have complained that the right-wing labeling of LGBTQ people and allies as “groomers” is doing nothing to help actual survivors of childhood sexual abuse. But then again, the right-wing’s “grooming” attacks aren’t meant to protect children from predatory teachers — something that rarely happens. They’re meant to demonize queer people.
A World Health Organization (WHO) expert has suggested that monkeypox may have been present in the UK for years.
Officials confirmed on Wednesday (25 May) that UK cases now stand at 78, a rise of 58 in just under a week.
Monkeypox has caused alarm in many Western countries. It has typically been a disease found in west and central Africa, with only eight previous cases ever reported in the UK, all since 2018 and related to travel to or from Nigeria, according to WHO.
While the first official case of the current outbreak was reported on 4 May, professor David Heyman, a WHO expert who chairs the infectious disease group, told The Guardian that the virus has possibly been circulating undetected in the UK since between 2018 and 2019.
“It could hypothetically be that the virus transmission amplified from this low level of transmission when by chance it entered the population that is at present amplifying transmission,” he said.
Professor Heyman stressed that this theory was not yet conclusive and more research would be required.
A virologist from the University of Leuven in Belgium, Professor Marc Van Ranst, backed Heyman’s theory. He told The Guardian: “This may be a virus that’s been circulating undetected for quite a while.”
He added: “They all have a common ancestor and that common ancestor probably dates back to 2019, though it’s too early to date with any kind of accuracy.”
The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that a large proportion of cases have been detected among gay, bisexual and men who sleep with men.
Health authorities in Spain have attributed the majority of monkeypox infections in the country to a single outbreak in a now-closed gay sauna in the Madrid region.
At least 30 cases of monkeypox have so far been confirmed across Spain – with Britain, Portugal and the US also reporting a surge in cases of the rare viral infection.
The UK Health Security Agency noted that cases have predominantly been found in gay and bisexual men, but have been clear that monkeypox usually poses little risk as the majority of patients make a full recovery.
Twenty-three new cases were confirmed in Spain on Friday (May 20), with regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero telling reporters that most of the cases had been traced from a single adult sauna, used by queer men for sex, according to Reuters.
Escudero confirmed that the Public Health Department of Spain will be carrying out further analysis to “control contagion, cut the chains of transmission and try to mitigate the transmission of this virus as much as possible”.
Fifteen of the cases in Spain are in the Madrid region, with another 18 suspected cases under investigation across the country. The Extremadura region confirmed its first case on Friday and 23 cases have been noted in neighbouring Portugal.
“The health department of the Belgian government has confirmed three cases of the monkeypox virus linked to visitors at Darklands,” read a statement on the festival’s website.
“There’s reason to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries.
Around 100 cases of monkeypox, which is rarely found outside parts of Central and West Africa, have been detected across Europe. While some have been associated with overseas travel, UK health officials believe that local cases are a result of transmission throughout the LGBTQ+ community.
As the summer approaches, Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation(WHO) regional director for Europe, is “concerned that transmission could accelerate” with “mass gatherings, festivals and parties as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many”.
“I would like to emphasise that individuals contracting monkeypox must not be stigmatised or discriminated against in any way” he continued. “Timely risk communication with the general public is important, and public health bodies should widely disseminate accurate and practical advice on prevention, diagnosis and treatment.”
Dr Kluge urged anyone who is “concerned about an unusual rash” to consult their healthcare provider.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday alerted gay and bisexual men that monkeypox appears to be spreading in the community globally, warning people to take precautions if they have been in close contact with someone who may have the virus and to be on the lookout for symptoms.
Dr. John Brooks, a CDC official, emphasized that anyone can contract monkeypox through close personal contact regardless of sexual orientation. However, Brooks said many of the people affected globally so far are men who identify as gay or bisexual. Though some groups have greater chance of exposure to monkeypox right now, the risk isn’t limited only to the gay and bisexual community, he cautioned.
“We want to help people make the best informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community from monkeypox,” Brooks said.
A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of rash development in 1968. CDC | Reuters
Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, which is generally passed through semen or vaginal fluid, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact as well as through shared bedding. The virus spreads through contact with body fluids and sores, Brooks said.
He added that it’s important for physicians and individuals to be aware of the symptoms associated with monkeypox, particularly anal or genital lesions that can be confused with herpes, syphilis or chickenpox.
“Anyone with a rash or lesion around or involving their genitals, their anus or any other place that they have not seen it before, should be fully evaluated, both for that rash but particularly for sexually transmitted infection and other illnesses that can cause rash,” Brooks said.
Monkeypox usually begins with symptoms similar to the flu including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. It then progresses to body rashes on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth or genitals that turn into raised bumps which then become blisters.
However, the rash has appeared first in some of the recently reported cases, according Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official. While the virus has a long incubation period, patients are considered most infectious when they have a rash, McQuiston said. Though monkeypox can spread through respiratory droplets, the virus comes from infected lesions in the throat and mouth that can expel it into the air. But transmission from respiratory droplets requires prolonged face-to-face contact, according to the CDC.
“This is not Covid,” McQuiston said. “Respiratory spread is not the predominant worry. It is contact and intimate contact in the current outbreak setting and population.”
The U.S. has confirmed one case of monkeypox in Massachusetts and four cases of orthopox in New York City, Florida and Utah, according to McQuiston. State labs have tests that can identify orthopox, which are presumed to be monkeypox, but they have to be sent to the CDC in Atlanta for further analysis to confirm that diagnosis, McQuiston said.
The cases identified in the U.S. are a milder West African strain, McQuiston said. Most people who catch the virus recover in two to four weeks without specific treatments, she said.
The World Health Organization has identified about 200 confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases across at least a dozen countries in Europe and North America in recent days.
It’s unusual, though not unheard of, for monkeypox cases to be found outside a handful of West and Central African nations where the virus is endemic. The U.S. had an outbreak of more than 70 cases in 2003 that stemmed from people keeping infected prairie dogs as pets.
There has been a surge of cases in Nigeria in recent years, but the cases identified around the world over the past two weeks are unusual because most of the patients did not have recent travel history to Nigeria or another country where the virus is usually found, according to McQuiston.
The smallpox vaccine appears to be about 85% effective at preventing monkeypox, based on research in Africa, according to the CDC. The U.S. has a stockpile of 100 million doses of an older generation vaccine called ACAM2000 that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people at high risk of smallpox, according to McQuiston. However, the vaccine can have significant side effects and any decision to use it widely would require serious discussion, she said.
The U.S. also has more than 1,000 available doses of a vaccine called Jynneos that is FDA approved for people ages 18 and older at high risk of monkeypox or smallpox. It is administered as two shots and doesn’t have the same risk of severe side effects. McQuiston said the number of doses should increase quickly in the coming weeks as the vaccine maker boosts production.
“We are hoping to maximize vaccine distribution to those that we know would benefit from it, so those are people who have had contact with a known monkeypox patient, health-care workers, very close personal contacts and those in particular who might be at high risk for severe disease,” McQuiston said.
Heather Peto had been feeling run down for a while before she realised there might be something wrong.
At first, she blamed her recent experience with COVID for her feelings of exhaustion – but gradually, she started to notice other, more troubling symptoms creeping in. Eventually, she realised that she was exhibiting some of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.
Getting to that realisation wasn’t easy. As a trans woman, Heather often has to fight to access the healthcare she needs. Some doctors and specialists are unaware of the specific symptoms trans women might experience when they have prostate cancer, while others don’t even know trans women can get prostate cancer.
Right now, Heather is undergoing tests to determine what’s causing her prostate issues. In the mean time, she wants to speak out about the symptoms she is experiencing so others will know what they need to watch out for.
Aside from the exhaustion, the first thing Heather noticed was that she started to experience urinary incontinence during sex.
“It was only a small amount, but that had never happened before,” Heather tells PinkNews. “It then started to happen regularly… One of the key things to get across is that if you’re noticed a change in your urinary habits, whether that’s incontinence or other things, then it’s important to get it checked out.”
Increasingly worried about her symptoms, Heather went to her GP for blood tests.
“The blood test measures something called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and if you’ve got higher levels of that it tends to mean there’s something wrong with the prostate – it could be cancer, could be prostatitis,” Heather explains. Prostatitis refers to the inflammation of the prostate gland.
“Mine was quite high for my age,” Heather says. The tests were evidence enough that something was wrong, but that’s where Heather’s issues with the healthcare system begin. As a trans woman who has had hormone treatment, she should in general have lower PSA levels than a cis man would have.
The result is that some trans women and non-binary people with prostates can show lower levels of PSA in blood tests, but they could still have prostate cancer. According to Prostate Cancer UK, some experts believe a PSA level above 1 ng/ml in a trans woman should warrant further investigation.
Trans women can experience different symptoms of prostate cancer
Another barrier to treatment and diagnosis for trans women is that the symptoms can be different. One of the symptoms most commonly associated with prostate cancer is the need to get up and urinate frequently during the night – but that’s largely based on the experiences of cis men. Heather noticed some different symptoms.
“One of those symptoms is that there’s a form of incontinence by which you go to the toilet for a wee but you don’t expel all your wee… so you have that little residual amount that you can’t seem to expel. You know it’s there but it’s not completely gone. When it discharges, which it does, it ends up leaking all at once.”
Something else Heather experienced is that she would orgasm spontaneously during urination. “It’s very awkward,” she says. Unfortunately, Heather experienced some “disinterest” from medical professionals when she raised concerns about the symptoms she was experiencing – although she stresses that the care she has received has generally been good.
I’m left in this never-never of not knowing if it’s cancer that’s getting worse or if there’s another, more benign explanation such as prostatitis.
After noticing those symptoms, Heather went to her GP and was referred to a specialist. She was supposed to have a urine test in November 2021, but it was subsequently pushed back several times.
“I’m left in this never-never of not knowing if it’s cancer that’s getting worse or if there’s another, more benign explanation such as prostatitis, or if it could be another form of cancer that’s affecting the area. My health is getting worse, I’m OK but not OK in terms of living a normal live. So that’s my experience.”
Heather is speaking out about her experience because she wants both the medical field and the wider public to have greater awareness about the fact that trans and non-binary people with prostates are susceptible to developing prostate cancer too.
“There is this list on the NHS website of symptoms that you might experience with prostate cancer, but it does seem to me to neglect certain things trans and non-binary people with prostates might experience, and it possibly neglects people who have sex with men.
“There needs to be more research and more guidance around trans people with prostate cancer,” Heather says. “I don’t want to be too alarmist, but I think we need to communicate this – there are people who are needlessly being treated further along in their prostate cancer than is necessary.”
Heather says there’s a level of ignorance in the medical field about the reality of prostate cancer for trans people. That’s not necessarily anybody’s fault, she points out – but she would like to see better education and training for GPs and other medical professionals. Right now, trans and non-binary people with prostates often have to educate healthcare professionals themselves.
“People need to talk more broadly about the problems trans people have,” she says. “We need to make sure GPs know about it, but also patients know about it so they can go to their GP in the first place… Your life is in their hands.”
Heather still doesn’t know what her symptoms mean, but she’s trying to remain optimistic while she waits on a firm answer.
“There’s always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it’s something worse that’s not being tackled, that I’ll end up dying from it, or that I’ll end up being more seriously ill than I need to be.”
What’s worse is that Heather knows she will likely experience transphobic abuse online because she’s daring to speak out about her experience. She has received brutal, cruel messages on social media over the years – all because she’s a trans woman. Some of those have wished cancer on her.
This culture of abuse only further silences trans people and makes them less likely to seek the support they need.
There needs to be greater awareness in the medical field about trans women’s medical needs
Heather’s experience is echoed by Suzanna Hopwood, also a trans woman. She developed prostatitis a number of years ago – she went to her GP and was referred to a consultant. The care she received was excellent.
“They don’t want to do any surgery on me, they’re just treating it with drugs. They didn’t think there was anything sinister lurking in my prostate and it wasn’t hugely big. That’s the process that I went through and I came out the other side reasonably satisfied,” Suzanna says.
“On the other side, you can fall into a bit of a hole really and not get properly diagnosed.”
That’s why Suzanna worked with Prostate Cancer UK to help help bring its information on prostate cancer in trans and non-binary people up to date. She reached out to the charity when she started having issues with prostatitis and learned that the charity was already working on updating its information to make it more inclusive.
Today, Prostate Cancer UK provides in-depth information about the realities facing trans women and non-binary people with prostates. Worryingly, the charity points out that many people don’t even know that trans women and some non-binary people have prostates, meaning they’re less likely to seek and access the right supports.
For Heather and Suzanna, the path forward is education – both for medical professionals and for trans and non-binary people. Without that, lives could continue to be needlessly lost.
If you’re trans or non-binary and are worried about prostate cancer or prostatitis, you can visit the Prostate Cancer UK website to find out more.
Contrary to the belief that many films have portrayed, attraction is not bound to romantic feelings. Instead, it can be an interest, a desire, or an affinity that’s emotional, romantic, physical, sexual, or aesthetic in nature.
With many feelings qualifying as an attraction, it comes as no surprise that it’s possible to experience more than one type of attraction simultaneously and that these desires come in spectrums rather than single points. And it’s in one of these “gray area” middle grounds where we’ll find alterous attraction.
Let’s explore its nuances to gain insight into our own feelings and understand and express ourselves better.
Alterous Attraction Definition: What Does It Mean?
To define alterous attraction, we first need to understand where the term comes from.
The term is derived from the same roots as “to alter” or “an alternative,” which all come from the Latin word “alternare,” which means “to change” or “to interchange.” Given this, we could define alterous attraction as “describing an alternative type of attraction” or, simply, “other attractions.”
The term is often used in the aromatic or asexual community. These individuals don’t experience a romantic or sexual attraction toward others and often have low to zero interest in related activities. Since romance and sex are commonly linked, alterous behavior is prevalent in both groups.
Aromantic and asexual individuals experience alterous attraction or intense feelings that cannot be categorized as a platonic or romantic attraction. Instead, their emotions land somewhere in the middle, where they want emotional closeness in a personal relationship without it being romantic or having the desire to explicitly act on or address it.
Alterous attraction can be a basis for your orientation and also exist alongside other orientations. For example, you can be heterosexual, bisexual, aromantic, or panalterous and still have an alterous orientation where you experience emotional depth not adequately described by romantic or platonic attraction.
What Do You Call Someone You Have An Alterous Attraction For?
You can use helpful terms to describe someone you have alterous feelings for. Two of the common ones are “squish” and “mesh”:
Squish: A squish is a non-romantic crush. Unlike a crush where you want something romantic to happen with someone, a squish is someone you want to have a strong, non-romantic connection with.
Mesh: Mesh is something in between crush and squish. In other words, a mesh is someone you want to have an alterous relationship with – not exactly platonic, not wholly romantic, but somewhere in between.
Both terms are used in describing alterous attractions, although mesh might be more applicable in most cases. This makes it easy for you to refer to someone you have more than platonic attraction for without struggling with the romance-related crush term.
What Does Alterous Attraction Tell Us About Love?
Alterous attraction is an important nuance in the aromanticism spectrum, as individuals with such orientation experience a different kind of romantic attraction than most of us are used to. Instead, they experience varying degrees of complex emotional desires to form an emotional relationship that goes beyond platonic connections.
Many people are used to separating platonic and romantic attraction in binary terms. But alterous attraction challenges the two confining classifications, proving that platonic and romantic love can exist together.
Our society is not bound to such amatonormative beliefs anymore, but rather, welcomes and values varying types of emotional closeness to the same degree.
The gray area captured by alterous attraction means that one can experience attraction without conforming to the norm or any cultural preconceptions and still have in-depth personal relationships. Just like how everyone often describes the color blue-green inconsistently, different people have different emotional boxes in life.
Alterous partnerships can also be somewhat of a substitute for “platonic soulmates” or “life partners,” where both individuals are attracted and attached to each other but without being wholly romantic.
Romantic Attraction Vs Alterous Attraction: How Are They Different?
Most of us crave emotional closeness. But when does that elevate to romantic attraction?
The answer may differ from one person to another. In general, however, romantic feelings often have more intense emotions, where people describe it as having nervous energy, heart-tugging pain, and butterflies in their tummy. They may also be more inclined to the stereotypical “relationship escalator” such as committing to a lifelong partnership.
Alterous attraction, on the other hand, is more relaxed, where an individual may wish that they can date someone, but also be completely fine to just spend time with them in whichever way. They want to be emotionally close to the other person, get to know them, and spend every waking moment with them, but without any expectation or need that it’ll involve dating or romance.
In other words, it’s to have the feeling that you want to date someone but also know that it’s nothing romantic, sensual, or sexual. And you won’t be heartbroken to have your feelings go unreciprocated.
How Will I Know If I’m Alterously Attracted To Someone?
The hard part about identifying this type of attraction is that it’s defined more by what it isn’t rather than what it is, and those things that “aren’t” are quite difficult to define themselves. So, the simplest way to find out if you have alterous attraction for someone is to first ask yourself the following questions:
How do you define a platonic relationship?
How do you define a romantic relationship?
As these questions might be difficult to answer, you can refer to your past or current friendships and romantic relationships to help you pinpoint your personal experience with different kinds of feelings.
Once the archetypes are clearer, answer these questions in relation to the person you have in mind:
What do you want to do with them?
What don’t you want to do with them?
Do you consider them only as your best friend?
Do you want your feelings to be reciprocated?
Do you want to have sex with them?
Do you want them to see you as a friend or a lover?
These guide questions are to give just a sense of what kind of emotional attraction you possibly feel towards others. You can also try putting “filters” on so you can see if you feel more comfortable having them as a friend or as someone romantically involved in your life.
More Than Friends, Less Than Lovers: Alterously Attracted To Each Other
Alterous attraction is a new concept for many. But it’s necessary, especially for the asexual and aromantic community. Terms like these exist to help you identify and describe your experiences, so you’re more comfortable with yourself and have an easier time explaining to others.
Moreover, even if you do feel that the term aptly describes your orientation and feelings towards others, it may take some time for you to accept it as part of your identity. That is completely normal, and you have nothing to worry about.
If they don’t serve you well, you don’t have to use them. But if they do, then you can now proudly proclaim the feelings you had towards others that were once unnamed.
Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many states, labeled child abuse and subject to criminalizing bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.
Many clinics use treatment plans pioneered in Amsterdam 30 years ago, according to a recent review in the British Psych Bulletin. Since 2005, the number of youth referred to gender clinics has increased as much as tenfold in the U.S., U.K, Canada and Finland, the review said.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a professional and educational organization, and the Endocrine Society, which represents specialists who treat hormone conditions, both have guidelines for such treatment. Here’s a look at what’s typically involved.
Children who persistently question the sex they were designated at birth are often referred to specialty clinics providing gender-confirming care. Such care typically begins with a psychological evaluation to determine whether the children have “gender dysphoria,″ or distress caused when gender identity doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex.
Children who meet clinical guidelines are first offered medication that temporarily blocks puberty. This treatment is designed for youngsters diagnosed with gender dysphoria who have been counseled with their families and are mature enough to understand what the regimen entails.
The medication isn’t started until youngsters show early signs of puberty — enlargement of breasts or testicles. This typically occurs around age 8 to 13 for girls and a year or two later for boys.
The drugs, known as GnRH agonists, block the brain from releasing key hormones involved in sexual maturation. They have been used for decades to treat precocious puberty, an uncommon medical condition that causes puberty to begin abnormally early.
The drugs can be given as injections every few months or as arm implants lasting up to year or two. Their effects are reversible — puberty and sexual development resume as soon as the drugs are stopped.
Some kids stay on them for several years. One possible side effect: They may cause a decrease in bone density that reverses when the drugs are stopped.
After puberty blockers, kids can either go through puberty while still identifying as the opposite sex or begin treatment to make their bodies more closely match their gender identity.
For those choosing the second option, guidelines say the next step is taking manufactured versions of estrogen or testosterone — hormones that prompt sexual development in puberty. Estrogen comes in skin patches and pills. Testosterone treatment usually involves weekly injections.
Guidelines recommend starting these when kids are mature enough to make informed medical decisions. That is typically around age 16, and parents’ consent is typically required, said Dr. Gina Sequiera, co-director of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Gender Clinic.
Many transgender patients take the hormones for life, though some changes persist if medication is stopped.
In girls transitioning to boys, testosterone generally leads to permanent voice-lowering, facial hair and protrusion of the Adam’s apple, said Dr. Stephanie Roberts, a specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Management Service. For boys transitioning to girls, estrogen-induced breast development is typically permanent, Roberts said.
Research on long-term hormone use in transgender adults has found potential health risks including blood clots and cholesterol changes.
Gender-altering surgery in teens is less common than hormone treatment, but many centers hesitate to give exact numbers.
Guidelines say such surgery generally should be reserved for those aged 18 and older. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health says breast removal surgery is OK for those under 18 who have been on testosterone for at least a year. The Endocrine Society says there isn’t enough evidence to recommend a specific age limit for that operation.
Studies have found some children and teens resort to self-mutilation to try to change their anatomy. And research has shown that transgender youth and adults are prone to stress, depression and suicidal behavior when forced to live as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Opponents of youth transgender medical treatment say there’s no solid proof of purported benefits and cite widely discredited research claiming that most untreated kids outgrow their transgender identities by their teen years or later. One study often mentioned by opponents included many kids who were mistakenly identified as having gender dysphoria and lacked outcome data for many others.
Doctors say accurately diagnosed kids whose transgender identity persists into puberty typically don’t outgrow it. And guidelines say treatment shouldn’t start before puberty begins.
Many studies show the treatment can improve kids’ well-being, including reducing depression and suicidal behavior. The most robust kind of study — a trial in which some distressed kids would be given treatment and others not — cannot be done ethically. Longer term studies on treatment outcomes are underway.