sexuality

Transgender rights are getting a new focus in the civil rights standoff that emerged this week between the Obama administration and the state of North Carolina.

It's over a law that requires transgender people to use public restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate.

Transgender activists were part of the movement to make same-sex marriage the law of the land, and have long been trying to get people to understand who they are. In Mobile, Ala., LGBTQ advocate Lane Galbraith says he's busy now dealing with discrimination issues.

Author Peggy Orenstein
Courtesy Photo/Michael Todd

For her new book, “Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape,” Peggy Orenstein conducted ongoing, in-depth interviews with dozens of young women. The result is an honest picture of the sex lives of women 15-20 years old.

Six-year-old Sophie says she has always known she's a girl. "I used to be Yoshi," she says. "But I didn't like being called Yoshi." And she didn't like being called a boy.

Sophie lives with her family in Bellingham, Wash. Her mother, Jena Lopez, says she started seeing the signs before Sophie turned 2.

"She'd say things like, 'I'm a she, not a he,' " Lopez says. "She would cry if we misgendered her. She'd become angry."

Author Peggy Orenstein says that when it comes to sexuality, girls today are receiving mixed messages. Girls hear that "they're supposed to be sexy, they're supposed to perform sexually for boys," Orenstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "but that their sexual pleasure is unspoken."

While researching her new book, Girls & Sex, Orenstein spoke with more than 70 young women between the ages of 15 and 20 about their attitudes and early experiences with the full range of physical intimacy.

Less than half of young men have heard of emergency contraception, a recent study found, even though it's available over the counter at drug stores and is effective at preventing pregnancy after sex.

Where a mainstream fashion magazine might do a special "black issue," like Italian Vogue back in 2008, or a black lifestyle magazine might run a queer feature, the perspective of queer black folks tends to occupy occasional outskirts in fashion and lifestyle glossies, never the mainstay.

Ninety-year-old Hector Black has been on Radiolab and StoryCorps, talking about how he forgave the man who murdered one of his daughters.

But he tells NPR's Ari Shapiro a different story — one he hasn't shared before. It's his life as a closeted gay man — a husband and a father — who didn't come out until he was 70 years old.

Writer Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy in high school in the 1970s.
John Carswell/Courtesy of the author

When writer Sonya Lea’s husband underwent a radical surgery, he lost three pitchers of blood.

That severe blood loss deprived his brain of oxygen, causing permanent damage. When he emerged from the operating room, his eyes were shocked open, and his personality had changed.

The gym chain Planet Fitness has found itself in the middle of a national debate over how to accommodate transgender people in single-sex spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms.

Earlier this year, Yvette Cormier complained to her gym in Midland, Michigan, after seeing a transgender woman in the women’s locker room. Cormier took it upon herself to “warn” other customers of the transgender-friendly policy. The gym canceled her membership, and now she’s suing.

At schools that offer comprehensive sex education, students tend to get the biology and the basics — they'll learn about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, how to put a condom on a banana and the like.

But some public health researchers and educators are saying that's not enough. They're making the case that sex ed should include discussion about relationships, gender and power dynamics.

The Pentagon is working on a prison transfer for convicted WikiLeaks source Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who has requested hormone therapy. The plan would allow Manning to serve time in a civilian prison, where such therapy is available.

Manning's first name was Bradley when the soldier made headlines for sending a trove of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Sex and Synapses: Rethinking Female Sexuality

Jan 28, 2014
Naomi Wolf's book "Vagina: A New Biography."

Steve Scher sits down with feminist writer Naomi Wolf to talk about her book, "Vagina: A New Biography." In it she explores the scientific and cultural connections between the human brain and female sexuality.

This interview originally aired on December 4, 2012.

iagoarchangel / Flickr

Bringing new meaning to "student orientation," Washington community and technical colleges will start asking students their sexual orientation and gender identity when students register for classes this year.

Laura McDowell, spokeswoman for Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges, said it was students who proposed the colleges start tracking the data.

House Bill Would Regulate Conversion Therapy

Feb 21, 2013
Marko Liias
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A new House bill proposed by State Representative Marko Liias would establish a panel to investigate the effects of sexual orientation conversion therapy -- also known as 'straight camp' -- for minors in Washington state. Liias is one of several openly gay legislators in Washington, and he said in a press release that conversion therapy has “no basis in science or medicine, and it is vital that we bring together the proper health experts to better understand the impacts.”

David Blumenkrantz / Flickr

The Boy Scouts of America are thinking about ending their ban on gay scouts or scout leaders.  How are scouts responding in the Northwest?  Were you ever involved with the Boy Scouts?  How would this change affect you? Ross Reynolds takes your phone calls.

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