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Justin Trudeau issues apology to the LGBTQ community

In a bold, historic and heartwarming moment, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an apology to the LGBTQ community after decades of discrimination. Trudeau made the apology in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov 28.

The chambers held a lot of emotion, as even Trudeau wiped away tears at the end of his speech. Trudeau was able to express the regret, shame, and sorrow the Canadian government has taken responsibility for in the discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ Canadians. The rejection and treatment of the LGBTQ community was a state-sponsored and witch-hunting event to purposely exclude people from society based on their sexual orientation.

“You are professionals. You are patriots, and above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice and you deserve peace. He said  ” It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long— many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that we are truly sorry.”

Many LGBTQ Canadians faced such discrimination and harsh treatment from others that were not willing to understand nor accept people with non-conforming sexual orientation and desire. Between the 1950’s to the 1990’s thousands of federal workers were fired based on their sexual orientation. This was part of  a “national security’ purge. In the 1960’s alone, there was a database collected by the RCMP of over 9000 suspected gay and lesbian federal workers and suggestions of demotion and denial of promotion.

In June of 2016, members of the advocacy group Egale Canada released a report on the systematic discrimination members of the LGBT community has faced over the years. This prompted them to issue ways in which the treatment and viewpoint of the LGBTQ community can be changed in Canada. One of the recommendations was a formal apology issued by Ottawa. In May of 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that he will issue a formal apology on Nov 28, and as he promised this was delivered to a packed house.

However, there are still some people who thought the apology was not enough to make up for years of hurt and damage caused in many communities. The fact is, this ‘purge’ was a systematic event that lasted longer than necessary and changed many lives.

In 1969 the House of Commons voted to pass a bill that decriminalized homosexuality and in 1967 the bill was first introduced by the acting Justice Minister at that time, and future Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, who said, “The view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Now 50 years later, his son has taken the opportunity to offer an apology for government actions that were truly vile, invasive, discriminatory and un-Canadian.

This is yet another historic moment in the LGBTQ community in Canada. Comment below.

Remembering lives lost due to anti-transgender violence

Transgender Remembrance was marked on Nov 20,  a day in which to reflect on the 325 transgender people around the world who have lost their lives between Oct 2016 and Sept 30 of this year.

Statistics Canada tracks the number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and in 2014 there were 155 reported cases and in 2015 there were 141 instances. This number is alarmingly high, as most transgender people suffer in silence when dealing with hate related issues.

From people using the right pronouns to challenges in school and healthcare, transgender youth face a large number of challenges. In a national survey in 2015, over one-third of transgender Canadians between ages 14-25 attempted suicide. Transgender Remembrance Day does not normally count the number of deaths by suicide ,but if it did, the number in remembrance would be even higher.

Transgender Remembrance is all about reflecting on an often bullied and low profile community. During different remembrance ceremonies around the world, the names of those who lost their lives to  anti-transgender violence are marked. Members of the trans community all pay respect and come out to attend this somber occasion.

Transrespect.org issued the full list this year of all the names of people around the world who have lost their lives. The list is a report of all transphobia issues and murders worldwide. There was one Canadian listed, Sisi Thibert, a transgender sex worker who was found stabbed in her apartment in Montreal just a mere two months ago.

Many trans-advocates do not just honour all those who have lost their lives, but as well victims and survivors of transgender targeted violence. Transgender remembrance started in 1999 in the United States by a transgender woman to mark the murder of another victim. During the reading of the names, there is often a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil. In Canada, there was a memorial held at the University of Winnipeg on Monday evening with over 100 people in attendance, and at Toronto Police Headquarters in downtown Toronto, Toronto police raised the transgender flag for the first time to mark Transgender Remembrance Day.

Australia votes to legalize same-sex marriage

More than 12.5 million Australians took part in a non-binding postal vote to decide whether or not same-sex marriage should be legalized. The results were overwhelming, with 61.6 per cent of respondents voting in favour of legislation by Christmas.

The vote took a long eight weeks, with the results announced Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australians were asked the following question: “Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Participation in this survey was voluntary, which is why the 79.5 per cent response rate was shocking.

The survey, which participants had to mail to their representatives, took place because there were twi previous failed attempts by the government to hold a national vote. The debate has been controversial, with many Coalition party members being whipped into voting against the legislation. Instead of holding a national vote, the government created a loophole and spent $122 million sending out voluntary surveys to all residents in order to gauge public opinion.

A bill was introduced to the Senate on Wednesday and will be up for discussion and amendments. Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has said that he will support the public’s preferences and hopes to get the bill passed before the New Year.

“[Australians had] spoken in the millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” Turnbull said at a press conference. “They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people asked us to do and get this done.”

Those opposed to same-sex marriage may try to tack on an amendment that will enact “religious freedom protection” for commercial businesses who oppose same-sex marriage, but Turnbull said there is little change an amendment like that would pass.

As the results were announced, hundreds, if not thousands, of people flooded the streets, waving rainbow flags, singing, dancing, and hugging their partners. While the vote isn’t binding, it proves with incredible clarity that the Australian people want this change in legislation. If the government ignores this vote, there is bound to be backlash.

Same-sex marriage was banned in Australia in 2004 when the Marriage Act was amended to define the union as being between a man and a woman. The government has received a lot of pressure to change the Act, especially after Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.

What do you think? Will the government pass the bill or will amendments cause delays?

Danica Roem first transgender person elected as Virginia lawmaker

It was a historic moment in the United States last night as key areas in political history were marked. Of the many “firsts” in this election, the most inspirational was Democrat Danica Roem, who is now the first openly transgender person to be elected a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Roem was elected over outspoken state lawmaker Robert G Marshall, who has held the house seat since 1992. Marshall previously refused to debate Roem and repeatedly used the wrong gender pronouns when referencing her campaign. Marshall was criticized for his social policy by Roem and often faced controversial issues amongst his own Republican statesmen. Known for his homophobic remarks, Marshall supported restricted bathrooms for transgender people.

Roem openly addressed her gender during her campaign and was open about her transition and the therapy she underwent when she was 28. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year, Roem highlighted the fact that politics should be inclusive of all.

” No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you’re qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table.”

Roem beat Marshall by nine percentage points and out-raised Marshall during the campaign, collecting almost $500,000, with a lot of support coming from the LGBT community. While Roem had a strong social media presence and went door to door in the community discussing her platform, Marshall kept his schedule private, instead issuing advertisements attacking Roem’s transgender identity.

Roem referred to Marshall as a mirror of Trump and criticized him on his unwillingness to deal with social issues. When Roem won, many community supporters compared the victory to that of Barack Obama. It is even more inspirational considering the political climate of the United States, where a government exists that is hell bent on refusing basic rights to people within the LGBTQ community.

There were a few other historic wins during Tuesday’s election:

  • Andrea Jenkins won a seat in Minneapolis City Council to represent Ward 8. Jenkins is the city’s first openly transgender woman of colour.
  • In New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla was elected as as the first Sikh Mayor in that state.
  • Jenny Durkan is the first openly lesbian mayor of Seattle.
  • Michelle Kaufusi is the first female mayor in the City of Provo in Utah.
  • Vi Lyes is the first black woman to be elected the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Kathy Tran is the first Asian-American woman to be elected to Virginia House of Delegates.
  • Zachary DeWolf is the first openly gay school board member in Seattle.
  • Melvin Carter III was elected the first black mayor of St Paul in Minnesota.

Let us know your thoughts below.

Kevin Spacey shouldn’t confuse sexual assault with sexuality

There is never an appropriate time to connect sexual assault with sexuality. News broke over the weekend that actor Kevin Spacey, known for his role in Netflix’s House of Cards, allegedly made sexual advances towards Star Wars Discovery actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14.

The incident took place almost 32 years ago when Spacey was 26 and hosted a post-show Broadway gathering. Rapp was a child actor at the time and they were both performing on shows. Rapp attended the party at Spacey’s apartment and, being a child, he was bored socializing with adults. Rapp said he found a bedroom and started watching television. It is alleged that Spacey appeared in the bedroom doorway, visibly drunk, long after the guests were gone.

“He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold . But I don’t, like, squirm away initially because I’m like, What’s going on? And then he lays down on top of me. He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told the press.

Rapp said that, at the time, he knew that Spacey’s advancements were sexual and he was able to remove himself and left the apartment.

Not long after the accusations were made, Spacey posted a statement on his social media saying he was “beyond horrified” to hear of Rapp’s account of that evening. Spacey then went on to say he owes Rapp a sincere apology if he did behave in the manner in which he was accused. He said he was extremely drunk and did not remember the incident.  Spacey’s apology was barely a paragraph long. In the same statement, he went on to address his own personal life, using this assault as an opportunity to highlight his normally quiet personal life.

Spacey said “As those closest to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

In just a few sentences, Spacey was able to purposely dismiss the fact that he was accused of making sexual advances to a child and, worse, use the incident as an opportunity to come out of the closet. It is insulting and disrespectful to the LGBTQ community to use your sexuality as an excuse for wild drunken behaviour and deeply disturbing allegations of trying to have sex with a minor.

There is already a (very untrue) stigma surrounding sexual promiscuity associated with the LGBTQ community, despite the fact that lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. Spacey’s “apology” further perpetuates this stigma, creating a correlation between sexuality and sexual violence that does not exist. This is dangerous and cowardly, especially coming from a man who now identifies as gay.

Spacey’s coming out was poorly timed and comes off as a poor cover-up for his inexcusable actions 32 years ago.  Since the news broke, Netflix has cancelled House of Cards after next season and Spacey’s  International Emmy Founder’s Award has been revoked. Many in and out of Hollywood shared their views on Spacey after this situation has come to light.

Comment below with your thoughts.

President Trump bans transgender people from serving in US military

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has announced that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the US military.

It was a series of early morning tweets that set of a firestorm of replies and backlash. More alarming than what was said was the mode of communication used to get the message across — a series of tweets 140 characters at a time, in typical Trump fashion.

President Trump tweeted that after a consultation with military experts, the United States government will not allow or accept transgender people to serve in the military at any capacity. Trump further said the military should be focused on “decisive and overwhelming victory.”

Trump then indicated that transgender individuals would burden the military with medical costs. President Trump has seemingly gone against his promise to be inclusive of all Americans.

Many twitter users were left in disbelief by the President’s announcement, many of them wondering if his tweets were a sort of newsworthy distraction from the investigation being carried out on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his alleged involvement in the US-Russia relations.

It was only last year that former President Barack Obama‘s administration announced that transgender individuals could serve in the military. President Trump’s decision to reverse this law seems to be another step in undoing everything his predecessor has achieved.

Since the ban on transgender individuals was lifted in 2016, the Pentagon was actively trying to determine how to accept new transgender individuals wishing to serve the military.

During President Trump’s election campaign, he actively had support from a popular transgender celebrity, Caitlyn Jenner. In the past few months Jenner expressed her disapproval of President Trump’s actions, with this one being the last break. Jenner tweeted “ There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?” Jenner then reposted a tweet from President Trump is 2016 before the elections where Trump thanked the LGBT community and promised to fight for them while claiming Hillary Clinton would “threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

It seems that one year later, President Trump himself is threatening the freedoms of the transgender community.

As many advocacy groups and celebrities continue to speak out against Trump’s decision, a spokeswoman for the Minister of National Defence in Canada reminded everyone that transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1992 and their position remains unchanged.

President Trump’s tweets have left many people confused and looking to the White House to answer some questions — something Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, seemed unwilling (or unable) to do on the day of the announcement.

What’s next? Will women be banned from the U.S. military? How about immigrants? With President Trump, who knows where the line will be drawn — if it’s drawn at all.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Senate approves transgender rights bill with majority

Thursday afternoon, the Senate approved a piece of legislation that amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include transgender Canadians. This means that gender identity and gender expression is on “list of prohibited grounds of discrimination” and therefore protected against hate propaganda.

 

The bill also amends the sentencing principles section of the Criminal Code, making it possible for a person’s identity or expression to be considered an aggravated circumstance by a judge during sentences.

Most importantly, gender identity and gender expression are now identifiable groups under Canadian law! This is an incredible accomplishment and brings Canada one step closer towards becoming a truly equal, fair, tolerant, and inclusive society.

The only disappointment was that it took this long to get Bill C-16 to pass. This request to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code has been proposed and tabled numerous times over the last decade. Bill C-16 was presented to the House of Commons a little over a year ago and was delayed at the Senate due to debate surrounding free speech.

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, called the bill a celebration of inclusion and diversity, “bringing us one step closer to strengthening laws against discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime based on gender identity and gender expression.”

“Trans and gender diverse persons must be granted equal status in Canadian society, and this Bill makes that status explicit in Canadian law,” she said in a statement.

The bill passed by a vote of 67 to 11 and now needs Royal Assent before it is considered a law.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Liberal government plans on introducing legislation that would erase past convictions against Canadians charged with crimes related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. He also said the government is planning on apologizing to the LGBT community by the end of this year for past discriminatory legislation and policies.

International Women’s Day march should celebrate all types of activism

Women helping women is one of the founding mandates of Women’s Post — and this comes in many shapes and forms in the world of activism.

International Women’s Day isn’t only a day to celebrate women, but is also a time to bring women, men, and children together to fight for equality and justice in a world that is often filled with rampant sexism, bigotry, and hatred. It is a time to stand up for what is right and feel empowered by the community of women that surrounds you. On a personal level, it is also a time to be proud to be a woman and shout it to the world.

The International Women’s Day March is taking place at 1 Kings College Circle in Toronto from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and connects several networks of like-minded individuals across the world to advocate for positive change for women. It is also an opportunity for women to support each other regardless of sexual orientation, race, or religion. The most integral and motivating element of fighting alongside women across the globe is that we are all affected by various types of hatred and must fight them together. We must support each other and show solidarity and unification against all types of hatred.

It also gives women involved in other types of activism an avenue to express their solidarity. Women in animal rights activism have organized to meet at the Women’s Day March to celebrate women fighting to make the lives of animals better. This protest movement comes in the wake of Toronto Pig Save Leader, Anita Krajnc’s trial, where she is being charged for giving pigs to water. The verdict is due to be released on May 4 and is greatly anticipated by protestors across the world. The pig trial has given even more reason for women to gather and unify to fight against perceived injustices towards animals. The solidarity of these women also demonstrates there is an intersectional connection between women’s rights and fighting against other types of hatred, and linking the two together inspires even more change at a societal level.

There are also many women who will be at the march to fight against islamophobia at the Women’s Day March. The alt-right movement has been heavily advocating islamophobic ideologies and the protestors at the march will also unify for our Muslim sisters to demonstrate that love is more powerful then hate. Needless to say, Kellie Leitch will not be invited. Advocating a LGBTQ friendly space is also essential to show the world that homophobia is not acceptable and this form of hatred will not be tolerated or accepted amongst women at the march either. Women’s rights issues are at the helm too with thousands of women walking off the job this week to protest pay inequality in the workplace.

Many groups that will be represented at International Women’s Day and this shows that the event is about advocating for women in many ways. It encompasses equality and justice against hatred and intolerance. Women deserve equal treatment across the board, and homophobia to anti-semitism to racism to speciesism must be destroyed. Only by unifying as a cohesive and unified whole can everyone together defeat the injustices that pervade the world we live in. Join the events on Saturday if you can and never forget to treat your fellow women with respect every day, because only though community and solidarity do we stand any chances of defeating the evils in this world.

What to take away from the Women’s March on Washington

It started out as a mere Facebook event created by a few, ordinary women looking to voice their opinions following the unpredictable 2016 presidential election back in November. What arose  in the next few months turned into a record-breaking global demonstration, with an estimated five million people, with confirmed numbers yet to be announced, taking part throughout the U.S alone.  Although it was generated as a response to the incoming Trump administration, it exceeded all expectations in turn-out and universal messaging. Almost 700 rallies took place in all 50 states of the US, including our very own city of Toronto, in addition to every continent in the world. 

What started off as a march intended to protest on women’s issues quickly expanded into a human rights movement, highlighting key issues pertaining to people of colour (PoC), the LGBTQ community, immigrants rights, economic participation, the criminal justice system and disability rights, to name a few. As stated by many speakers at the march, women’s issues cannot be compacted into the stereotypical bubbles of reproductive justice or sexual violence. Although these are incredibly important issues, they are not the sole focus of a complex and diverse gender. Whether  you were at home watching powerhouses like Angela Davis,  Alicia Keys, Van Jones and many others speak and perform, or on the streets marching, rest assured that the Women’s March on Washington and seven continents over is currently being deemed the largest U.S-centric protest in history

And while that is a huge reason to celebrate the solidarity and unity of humanity, particularly sisterhood, it is equally important to look at the steps that need to take place following this historical movement, as well as to reflect on the history of peaceful demonstrations and the array of responses they receive.  So, as a sister invested in the movement and a proud WoC, I have a few friendly requests for fellow sisters and transwomen and other allies who want to see positive change going forth from this historic uprising.

Ground your work in understandings of intersectionality and the dynamics between privilege and power. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of pink “pussy hats’’, bold posters and  empowering chants. There is more to solidarity than just showing up for one day. Unfortunately, despite the physical unity and solidarity that was witnessed by hundreds of thousands over the weekend, marches such as this cannot deem us as sisters – at least, not yet. In order to identify as ‘sisters’, we’re going to have to respect the long and sometimes violent history of fighting for justice. A fight that it seems minority groups have taken on by themselves. The fact is, women of colour and other marginalized folk have faced challenges long before Trump and his cronies came into power. The oppression that we hear about goes beyond any one president.

The need to start having real conversations about institutional violence and where other women come in to further the oppression of other sisters, even if it’s unintentional is more important than ever. It is something that needs to be acknowledged. Yes, there were millions on the streets and it’s about damn time, but ask yourself this – where were these crowds when black and brown bodies were being murdered and abused in broad daylight? Where were these protests when Indigenous lands and waters were being threatened and destroyed? If it’s one thing that this march showcased, it’s that the strength isn’t in the numbers, but in listening and respecting stories of the many issues and forms of violence that affect all of us.

It’s just a matter of paying attention.

I’m going to take a moment to specifically speak to my white sisters who are just joining us in the fight for equitable justice: your solidarity and intentions, while sincere, are not always going to be trusted, at least not right away. As stated by the New York Times, ninety-four percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Sixty-eight percent of Latina women did so. But 53 percent of the white female voters in the United States voted for Donald Trump. Your white privilege has offered you many cushions against racial, economic and law enforcement violence. There were no arrests at the women’s march, barely any suspicion on the motivations of the attendees from security personnel.

If this needs to be made any more clear, all we need to do is look at the #J20 protests that took place on inauguration day. Protesters, mainly people of colour, were tear gassed and confronted with military-style interventions during their marches. Be critical of what it means to be a true ally – show up not just when your rights and values are threatened, but when other communities’ existences and humanity are questioned and attacked, as well. Help us. But, before jumping into action, please take the time to ask other groups what they think is the best way forward. Don’t just assume what they need. 

To everyone else; remember, protests look to make a statement. It’s not a trendy activity that you do on a Saturday afternoon. Sure, #womensmarch was trending worldwide on social media, but a movement does not take place overnight. Do not let the hashtag die down. Using hashtags as a buzzword, which is what happens with a lot of other movements (i.e #BLM), undermines the meaning and power behind it. A hashtag is not to be used for the benefits of retweets and shares, but to bring forth hard conversations, not just virtually, but in your daily lives. A hashtag, a representation of the greater movement, let’s voices be heard – often those voices which are systematically silenced.  

To show true solidarity, it’s important to remember that resistance looks very different to many women across the spectrum. Sometimes it isn’t just about the right to make choices over our bodies, but for many others, it is a constant fight to survive. This fight didn’t start with the Women’s March on Washington – but for many generations. It’s time to propel ourselves, together, into the next stages of true intersectional feminism.

My sisters and I need you. Are you here for us?

Woman of the Week: Jazz Kamal

Jazz Kamal’s boxing name is Jazz the Inferno, and as a musician she is known is Nari, meaning fire in Arabic. Both names define this fiery Egyptian, a woman who has the ability to create, destroy, and rise from the ashes renewed.

Kamal destroys the boundaries of what it means to be a repressed woman, and instead lives a life of truth and integrity. Her story is reminiscent of the fiery phoenix renewed, rising from the ashes stronger and ready to help others find their own light in a time of darkness. Kamal is a boxing coach and helps create a space for women to embrace their power and strength at Newsgirls, a women-only boxing studio in Toronto. She is also a profound lyricist and musician, creating political word-spins worthy of the hip hop greats.

I first encountered Kamal as a boxing coach at Newsgirls, a women’s boxing studio that runs classes and a program called Shape your Life to help women who have experienced violence. It turns out that Kamal found her passion at the boxing club two years ago. “I started boxing at Toronto Newsgirls and I hadn’t boxed anywhere else. I’ve always been a fighter but for the last two years I had gloves on,” Kamal says. “Newsgirls is a place where you don’t understand what you are there for until you still step through the doors.”

Kamal fell in love with boxing right away and wanted to make it a permanent part of her career. She began coaching and now helps run the ‘Shape your Life’ program. Before she committed to Newsgirls full-time, she was a technician for a theatre company, a job she really disliked. “My soul was drained and I didn’t see a way out,” Kamal says. “Savoy, the owner of Newsgirls, showed me all the steps to become a boxing coach. I specifically enjoy her coaching style and I told her I wanted to quit my job. It was at the point where I was crying everyday coming home from work. I didn’t want to turn 30 and still be at my job.” In May of that year, Kamal took a leap, quit her job and moved to Newsgirls full-time.

Kamal is also a musician and is a lead emcee/rapper of the group, Phatback, a soul and hip hop group that discusses important political issues. “The idea of the band was born just before I started boxing,” Kamal says. “I’m the lead MC and the lead singer is also a queer woman of colour. We are dedicated to making music that uplifts and our stuff is pretty political.” Phatback is starting a monthly residency in February 2017 every last thursday of the month at The Burdock (1184 Bloor St. W.).

Along with being a lead emcee of a band, Kamal is also a spoken word artist and independent musician going by the name Nari. Her early music reflects a lot about her journey coming out in the LGBTQ community. “I was a late bloomer when I accepted myself as a queer person. Coming from a country where it is very rough for gays in Egypt, I am definitely in danger if the wrong people find out. People go to jail for that,” Kamal says. “Not that North America is the beacon for LGBTQ, I am still allowed to live with my wife in a house we own here.”

Kamal’s journey to accepting herself has not been easy and she has overcome great struggle in order to reach a happier place in her life. “I was going to commit suicide, and I tried twice. My sister walked in and I didn’t want her to see. That ignited something in me that said how are external factors in my brain telling me I have to commit suicide? The answer isn’t to just end it. I had a difficult 10 years ahead of me, but I am able to deal with them differently,” Kamal says. “It doesn’t feel like the end of the world anymore. I have more ammunition, and more energy. I’ve gone to a lot of schools and talked about it.  Without fail, a kid will reach out to me and say it is good to see a queer Egyptian woman being loud and proud about who she is.”

Kamal strongly believes in helping others and nurturing people through their own personal journeys. Her courage and confidence is incredibly moving. She also shared her story in the 2011 PFLAG campaign and speaks to kids at schools advocating for the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, Kamal speaks up about domestic abuse in same-sex partnerships and violence against women.  “Some people didn’t believe I could be in an abusive relationship with another woman. It was psychological warfare and it took me a year and seven months for me to say no,” Kamal says. “I have learned to separate aggression from violence. Aggression is being able to push forward when someone is trying to push you back. Violence can happen without someone even touching you, they can break you down psychologically. You always have a choice, get mad.”

Kamal brings so much passion to her boxing classes and helps many women lift themselves out of the damaging and debilitating world of abuse. Kamal teaches women how to get angry and embrace their strength as a form of empowerment. “My advice to any woman is if you are mad, get angry. Anger is temporary,” Kamal says. “It is much easier than to repress it for years and years. Otherwise, it will turn into violence against yourself.”

Kamal changes lives everyday with her confidence, her comedic skills in the middle of boxing session, and her absolute selflessness when it comes to helping others. Above all else though, I would say the most inspiring lesson that Kamal represents is how far you can go as woman and a passionate person if you refuse to back down. Through her journey in accepting herself as queer person, Kamal faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles and fought hard to live honestly by who she is inside. She didn’t stay in an abusive relationship, and she didn’t stay in a crappy job. She found her passion, and strived towards becoming a person who helps others. Furthermore, she finds peace and power in teaching others to do the same. Whether in the ring or out on the street, Jazz has taught me to have your arms ready and never back down, and to the fight for what you love in this crazy and beautiful life.