Transgender Community in Italy Celebrates Vatican’s Historic Announcement

Transgender Community in Italy Celebrates Vatican’s Historic Announcement

A community of transgender women in Italy has celebrated a recent statement by the Vatican announcing that trans people can now be baptized in the church, among other landmark changes for trans-Catholics. 

Another Change for the Church

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Last week, the Vatican released an official statement declaring that trans people can now receive baptism, act as Godparents during baptisms, and be witnesses for wedding ceremonies.

The announcement marked a significant change within the church, and a community of trans women in Italy spoke out about the “fantastic” set of rules that would affect their lives as Roman Catholics.

Lunching With the Pope

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Claudia Victoria Salas and Carla Segovia were two of a group of transgender people who were invited to a lunch hosted by the Pope on the Church’s World Day of the Poor. They arrived at the Vatican alongside 1,200 other poor and homeless people.

Impossible Prospects Made Possible

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Meeting with the Pope in the holy city might have seemed impossible ten years ago for these women. And the new rules that bring more inclusion for trans people in the church were just as exciting.

We Feel More Human

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“We transgenders here in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Segovia said. “Because we need some love.” 

A Fantastic Opportunity

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“This is a fantastic opportunity for us transexuals,” Salas added emphatically. To her surprise, she had been seated directly opposite the pope during the meeting and lunch. “I send the Pope a big kiss!”

Difficult Circumstances

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Segovia and Salas are Argentinian immigrants living in Torvaianica, a seaside town south of Rome and the Vatican.

They and most of the other trans women who attended their lunch were Latin-American immigrants, and many were also sex workers.

A Local Priest Reaches Out

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These women were invited to the lunch after forming a relationship with a local Catholic priest, who offered his assistance to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, their relationship has flourished, culminating in the invitation to the Vatican. 

Father Conocchia

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Father Andrea Conocchia, pastor of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin parish in Torvaianica, reached out to the local transgender community, many of whom live in poverty, to offer food and resources.

Since parish resources were already limited, Conocchia contacted a cardinal who runs charities for the pope. 

Going Above and Beyond

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Not only did this cardinal help with resources, but he also arranged for the women to have their COVID-19 vaccinations in the Vatican and eventually to lunch with the Pope.

“For us, he is our saint,” Salas said when discussing Conocchia.

New Pope, New Approach

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The experience of these Torvaianica trans women has served to highlight how the Catholic church’s approach to LGBTQ issues has changed over the years.

Since his appointment to the head of the Vatican in 2013, Pope Francis has gained a reputation for being one of the most progressive and inclusive leaders the church has seen.

Not Everyone Is Happy

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However, some members of the LGBTQ community and the women of Torvaianica have embraced the new statement, and those on the more conservative side of the church are not happy with the new rules. 

Consequences for Texas Bishop

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Earlier this month, Texas bishop Joseph Strickland was “relieved” of his position in the church after criticizing Pope Francis’ newest progressive reforms.

He accused the Pope of “undermining the Deposit of Faith” and shared videos on social media that called him a “diabolically disordered clown.”

It’s Not a Crime

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The 86-year-old Pope has ushered in initiatives to make the church more inclusive while trying to uphold the teachings of the church, with varying results.

In January, he called to welcome LGBTQ people to the church. He spoke out against the criminalization of homosexuality that still exists in many countries, stating that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

He has also suggested that the church may eventually bless same-sex marriages.

Meaningful Gestures

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Although controversy may emerge, these initiatives from Pope Francis have been a meaningful gesture for trans women and other LGBTQ Catholics who have often felt shunned and rejected by the church. 

Opening Doors

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“Before, the church was closed to us. They didn’t see us as normal people, they saw us as the devil,” says Colombian immigrant and trans woman Andrea Paola Torres Lopez.

“Then Pope Francis arrived, and the doors of the church opened for us.”

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Trump Visits US-Mexico Border Amidst Rising Hardline Immigration Stance, Promises Tougher Measures

Trump Visits US-Mexico Border Amidst Rising Hardline Immigration Stance, Promises Tougher Measures

This Sunday former president and GOP forerunner Donald Trump headed near the US-Mexico border, at a time when he has begun to ramp up anti-immigrant sentiments in his campaign speeches.

Trump Heads South

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“The most unsecure border in the history of the world,” is how Donald Trump described President Joe Biden’s handling of the southern border.

The declaration came during a speech given at the South Texas International Airport on Sunday.

Anti-Immigration Takes Hold in Campaign

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Trump’s Texas visit, conveniently close to the US-Mexico border, has come about at a time when the presidential hopeful has escalated his anti-immigrant stance, and harsh anti-immigration policies have become a staple of his campaign. 

Texas Governor on Board

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He was supported during his visit by Texas Governor who attended an event with Trump in Edinburg, Texas, where he told the crowd, “We need Donald J. Trump back as our president of the United States of America.”

Securing the Border

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Edinburg is a small city but a significant receptor for illegal border crossings. “We need a president who’s going to secure the border,” Abbot continued.

The governor is a fierce supporter of Trump’s stance on immigration and an equally fierce critic of the Biden administration’s approach.

Support Continues

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For months, the former president has been dominating the Republican primary polls, and his calls for harsher measures to combat undocumented immigration have not quelled the outpouring of support from conservative voters.

Poisoning the Blood of America?

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He has described undocumented immigrants as a problem that is “poisoning the blood of our country.”

He has also pledged to establish the “largest domestic deportation operation in American history” if he is successfully re-elected. 

Referring to the Situation as an ‘Invasion’

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“There’s never been anything like this. Our country is being invaded. This is an invasion,” he proclaimed during a rally in Hialeah, Florida.

One of his more egregious comments came when he compared immigrants to the fictional character and cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter. 

Harsher Anti-Immigration Policies

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If elected, a second Trump administration plans to implement stricter immigration policies, making it harder for both illegal and legal immigrants to gain US visas.

There are also plans to build detention camps for illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. 

Urgent National Security

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The Trump campaign released an official statement on the matter, which reads: “Stopping the invasion at our southern border is an urgent national security necessity and one of President Trump’s top priorities.”

A Detailed Program

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“For that reason, he has laid out – in his own speeches and Agenda 47 platform – by far the most detailed program for securing the border, stopping illegal immigration, and removing those who should never have been allowed into our country in the first place,” the statement continued. 

Biden Bites Back

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President Biden’s campaign has criticized Trump’s immigration stance, even referring to it as “Un-American.” 

Draconian Measures

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His campaign also commented on the trip near the US-Mexico border, pointing out Trump’s former immigration policies while in office that they described as “draconian” and “inhumane.

He’s “Going After Immigrants”

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“Simply put, Donald Trump is going after immigrants, our rights, our safety and our democracy.

And that is really what’s on the ballot next year,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez has stated.

Provoking Fear of Immigration

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Trump has referenced ongoing conflicts in the Middle East to address immigration concerns among his supporters.

Ideological Screenings

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He has proposed “ideological screenings” affecting refugees from Muslim countries and the deportation of immigrants with “jihadist sympathies.”

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Oath and Honor? Liz Cheney’s Scathing Review of GOP’s ‘Enabling’ Trump Allegiance

Oath and Honor? Liz Cheney’s Scathing Review of GOP’s ‘Enabling’ Trump Allegiance

Moderate Republican Liz Cheney has published a new book that calls out the Republican party for its “enabling” of former president Donald Trump in the leadup to and aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

Oath and Honor

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In her new book “Oath and Honor,” former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney has slammed members of the GOP for being “enablers and collaborators” with former president Donald Trump. She condemned her former colleagues who she claimed were willing “to violate their oath to the Constitution” in order to support him following the many scandals and conspiracies surrounding the 2020 presidential elections.

Going After Trump and the GOP

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The retelling of her time in Congress focuses on her realization of the “danger” that Trump posed to US democracy following the election. It also skewered fellow Republicans like former House speaker Kevin McCarthy and new House speaker Mike Johnson. 

A Warning to America

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The book is delivered as a stark warning of the lengths that Trump, his followers, and his allies are willing to go to retain power. Cheney has described a second Trump presidency as a serious threat to the US constitution, and called Trump himself “the most dangerous man ever to inhabit the Oval Office.”

“We Cannot Survive It”

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“As a nation, we can endure damaging policies for a four-year term,” Cheney writes. “But we cannot survive a president willing to terminate our Constitution.”

It All Comes Out on December 5

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The book, which is set for release on December 5, gives a first-hand account of what went down in the GOP during the 2020 elections, as well as Cheney’s time spent as vice-chair of the House committee that investigated the Jan 6 Capitol riot.

It uses emails, call logs, text messages, and in-person conversations to show what was going on in the Republican halls of power during this time. 

Cowards and Hypocrites, Cheney Claims

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Much of the book also names the GOP representatives who supported Trump and accuses them of “cowardice” and hypocrisy for being complicit in Trump’s election subversion and conspiratorial campaigning.

The Lure of Power

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“So strong is the lure of power that men and women who had once seemed reasonable and responsible were suddenly willing to violate their oath to the Constitution,” she writes. “Out of political expediency and loyalty to Donald Trump.”

About Turn

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According to Cheney, many of these Republican officials initially condemned Trump before going along with his claims of election fraud in 2020. She claims they knew perfectly well that Trump’s election claims were lies. 

“McCarthy Knew the Truth”

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Cheney recounted a damning conversation between herself and McCarthy, where the ousted speaker claimed that Trump knew he had lost the election, despite encouraging his followers to believe the “stolen election,” narrative. “He knows it’s over,” McCarthy was quoted as saying in the book. “He needs to go through all the stages of grief.” 

New Speaker Gets Mentioned

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She also described new Speaker Mike Johnson as being “especially susceptible to flattery from Trump and aspired to being anywhere in Trump’s orbit.”

She described his role in endorsing an amicus brief that could have overturned election results in four states where Trump had lost. 

Just One Last Thing

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Johnson reportedly pressured other Republicans to sign the amicus brief, which Cheney resisted. “When I confronted him with the flaws in his legal arguments,” she writes, “Johnson would often concede, or say something to the effect of, ‘We just need to do this one last thing for Trump.’”

“A Farcical Display”

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On Jan 6, the same day as the Capitol riots, Cheney described a scene where GOP members were spurred on to sign an electoral vote objection sheets. She described the moment as a farce” and “another public display of fealty to Donald Trump.”

Orange Jesus

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“Among them was Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee,” Cheney recalled. “As he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, ‘The things we do for the Orange Jesus.’”

His Loudest GOP Critic

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Since her role on the Jan 6 House committee, Cheney has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics in the GOP. She has said she would consider an independent 2024 presidential campaign if she thought it might divert a Trump presidency and has even announced her intention to leave the GOP if Trump takes the Republican primaries for a third time. 

Trumps Spokesperson Responds

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Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung has responded to questions about the book, telling CNN that “Oath and Honor” “ belonged “in the fiction section of the bookstore.” He described Cheney’s account as “nothing more than completely fabricated stories.” 

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Russian Governor Reported to Police for Controversial Comments on Ukraine Conflict: “No Need for War in Ukraine”

Russian Governor Reported to Police for Controversial Comments on Ukraine Conflict: “No Need for War in Ukraine”

Russian governor Natalya Komarova has been reported to Russian police after making controversial comments about the war in Ukraine during a meeting in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk. 

A Complicated Visit 

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“We don’t need it” – The governor of the Russian region of Khanty-Mansiysk, Natalya Komarova, has infuriated pro-war activists for controversial remarks she recently made about the Russian invasion of Ukraine while visiting Siberia. 

Meeting in Nizhnevartovsk

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The incident occurred during a visit to the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk, where Komarova, a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, held a meeting with local residents. 

Heated Confrontation

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During the meeting, Komarova was approached by a soldier’s spouse, who raised concerns about the equipment provided to Russian recruits.

Contentious Questions

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“Are you asking me (about underequipped soldiers), knowing that I’m the governor and not the minister of defense?” the governor shot back. She then pointed the blame to a lack of preparation.

We Weren’t Prepared

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“As a whole, we did not prepare for this war. We don’t need it,” she said, a statement that shocked many of the meeting attendees.

Building a Different World

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Komarova further explained, “We were building a completely different world, so in this regard, there will certainly be some inconsistencies and unresolved issues.” 

News Spreads

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The encounter was filmed and circulated on Russian social media, and quickly spread as war activistists began to condemn the politician.

Criticisms Rush In

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Komarova has been accused of “discrediting Russia’s armed forces,” and her critics have called for the authorities to investigate the United Russia Party member.

No False Information

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Just days after the first Russian troops were sent into Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, the Russian parliament passed legislation to stop the spread of “false information” regarding the incoming war with Ukraine.

Pro-Military Legislation

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This legislation included criminalizing anyone who disparaged the Russian military, including those who described the invasion as a “war” instead of the preferred term of  “special military operation,” instated by the Kremlin.  

Thousands Arrested in Russia

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Since those early days of Russian military movements into Ukraine, thousands of Russian citizens have been fined and imprisoned for protesting or even criticizing the “military operation.”

Her Offensive Comments

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It’s unsurprising that Komarova’s comments have sparked offense among pro-military Russian citizens, who find them critical and possibly dismissive of the Russian military effort.

Siber.Realii Speaks

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Sibir.Realii, a state media outlet, reported that their journalists received a letter addressed to Russia’s Minister of Internal Affairs concerning the incident.

Letter of Complaint

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The letter came from Yuri Ryabtsev, director of a Serbian non-profit organization, who contacted the minister to report Natalya Komarova and urged an internal investigation of her comments.

No Charges for Komarova

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Despite multiple complaints and extensive media coverage of the governor’s remarks, Komarova has not been detained or charged as of now.

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Transgender Swimmer Breaks Swimming Record, Critics Respond

Transgender Swimmer Breaks Swimming Record, Critics Respond

A transgender athlete has sparked public controversy after breaking a woman’s swimming record at a college in New Jersey. Here’s the story. 

Outrage Over Trans Swimmer Success

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Meghan Cortez-Fields, a transgender senior student at Ramapo College of New Jersey, sparked outrage after setting a new record at a women’s swim meet in Pennsylvania. 

Breaking Records at Cougar Splash

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Cortez-Fields broke the record for the 100-yard butterfly with a tie of 57.22 seconds at the Cougar Splash Invitational in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

The event was held between six schools over two days, and Cortez-Fields also came first in the 200-yard individual medley and second in the 200-yard butterfly.

Online Backlash

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While the student and her college initially celebrated her success, her record-breaking turn was quickly met with harsh online criticisms.

It is the next in a line of controversies around transgender participation in competitive women’s sports. 

More Comfortable on the Women’s Team

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Cortez-Fields was allowed to switch to the women’s team at Ramapo College after coming out as transgender.

The men’s team would not allow the swimmer to compete with her torso covered, which she described as “very uncomfortable and kind of dehumanizing.”

Post Removed

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After making a celebratory post online, Ramapo College administrators had to remove the post after receiving a flood of comments that criticized Cortez-Fields and the school for allowing her to participate on the women’s team.

Gains Joins the Conversation

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In particular, her critics pointed out that Cortez-Fields had only joined the women’s team this season after a three-season period swimming on men’s teams.

The backlash against Cortez-Field’s win gained ground when former professional athlete, now activist Riley Gains joined the conversation.

An Unbelievable Transformation

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Gains, who was once a collegiate swimmer herself, commented online to criticize the student-athlete’s win and overall inclusion in the swim meet.

She referred to Cortez-Fields as a former “less than mediocre male swimmer”  who became a “record smasher competing against the women” after just one season.

“There Is No in Between”

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“Those who choose to remain blind to the injustice of allowing mediocre male athletes to become record-breaking female athletes are either incompetent or misogynists,” Gaines told Fox News in a segment about the story. “There is no in-between anymore.”

The ICONS Speaks

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And Gaines wasn’t the only notable voice to take issue with the student’s new record.

The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) voiced their agreement, pointing out that the win for Cortez-Fields had also “erased a woman’s name from the record books.”

Ramopo College Defends Her

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Despite deleting their online post, Ramapo College has publically defended Cortez-Fields in the wake of public backlash, publically stating that they strictly adhere to NCAA policies and that the school “supports all of our student-athletes.”

Meeting All Criteria

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A spokesperson for the college publically addressed the issue, and shed further light on the trans student’s inclusion on the women’s swim team. “There are strict measures that the NCAA makes trans athletes go through. You have to meet certain criteria to show that you are able to, as a trans athlete, compete with women,” the spokesperson said.

“We Are in Compliance”

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“We are an affiliate member of the NCAA. We are in compliance. We have done everything the NCAA says needs to be done regarding trans athletes competing on the team. All of the steps were taken, and documentation was provided for approval of Meghan’s participation.”

Students Protecting Students

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When asked why they chose to remove their congratulatory post for Cortez-Fields, they explained that the post was actually deleted by a student and a teammate of Cortez-Fields, and was someone “who wanted to protect their teammate from insulting comments.”

They Are Still Concerned

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Though the post was now gone, the school remained concerned about “vitriol” online. “We are going to continue to post all of our team and individual athlete’s student achievements for all of our athletics programs, as we always do,” they affirmed.

Echoes of Lia Thomas

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The backlash against Cortez-Field’s success was reminiscent of the University of Pennsylvania’s trans student athlete Lia Thomas, who came under national scrutiny after switching to the Penn women’s team after three years competing in the male division.

Kinship Between Trans Students

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Cortez-Fields has cited Thomas as an inspiration for her, telling the Ramapo News, “I felt so bad for her because I know exactly what she was going through. Even going into this season, I had a fear of succeeding, because I don’t want what happened to her to happen to me.”

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