Survey: 1 In 5 Adults In The UK Can’t Change A Lightbulb, Boil An Egg

23rd April 2017

Are you handy enough that if a lightbulb went out in your home you’d be able to change it? Believe it or not, one in five people aren’t so skilled. In fact, a new survey of people in the United Kingdom finds not only do about 20 percent of people not know how to change a bulb — the same number aren’t sure how to boil an egg, either.

The British insurance company Aviva recently released their annual Home Report which detailed, among numerous findings about how people do work around the house, relatively common tasks that people encounter. The company surveyed 2004 people across the UK in February and March about their habits and roles at home.

In addition to just one in five not being able to change a lightbulb or boil an egg, the survey found that nearly a third of the participants couldn’t cook any meal on the fly. And if someone were to spill a portion of their meal on their clothes or on the floor, only 59 percent would know how to get rid of the resulting stain.

Only 37 percent could change a flat tire.

The findings were even surprising to the folks behind the study.

“As a nation we tend to take pride in our ability to do things ourselves in and around the home, so it’s a surprise to see there could be a skills gap in places,” says Aviva Propositions Director Adam Beckett in a press release. “That said, we also know that people lead busy lives, so while we enjoy doing things ourselves, we also appreciate the opportunity to leave things to a professional from time to time, particularly with some of the more challenging jobs.”

Interestingly, while 50 percent of those surveyed said they learned how to do a home task on their by trial and error, plenty of people are turning to the internet for help, especially millennials. The study found four in 10 people aged 25 and under prefer learning do-it-yourself chores online. That’s more than twice the number in the age group who turn to an actual book for help.

Here’s a look at the polled tasks and the number of people who indicated they could successfully complete them:


 Task Percentage who feel confident doing this task
Boil an egg 81%
Change a light bulb 79%
Cook a complete meal without using a recipe 69%
Read a map 66%
Sew on a button 65%
Unblock a sink 62%
Remove a stain from a carpet or clothing 59%
Change a baby’s nappy  57%
Wire a plug 57%
‘Bleed’ a radiator 53%
Check oil levels in a car 53%
Put up a shelf 47%
Put up wallpaper 39%
Change a flat tyre  37%
Change a washer on a tap  30%
Fit tiles 22%




CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

20th April 2017

CBS News has learned that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider — either a CIA employee or contractor — who had physical access to the material. The agency has not said publicly when the material was taken or how it was stolen.

Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names.

The trove was published in March by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks

In his first public comments as director of the CIA just last week, Mike Pompeo railed against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” he said.

WikiLeaks has said it obtained the CIA information from former contractors who worked for U.S. intelligence. The CIA has not commented on the authenticity of the WikiLeaks disclosures or on the status of the investigation.



Trump’s Victory Brought Back Childhood ‘Trauma’

14th April 2017

Pop star Katy Perry — one of Hillary Clinton’s top celebrity endorsers during the 2016 presidential campaign — says Donald Trump’s victory brought back painful childhood trauma.

“I was really disheartened for a while; it just brought up a lot of trauma for me,” the 32-year-old “Chained to the Rhythm” singer said in a cover story interview for this month’s Vogue magazine. “Misogyny and sexism were in my childhood: I have an issue with suppressive males and not being seen as equal.”

“I felt like a little kid again being faced with a scary, controlling guy,” Perry added. “I wouldn’t really stand for it in my work life, because I have had so much of that in my personal life.”

Months after the election, Perry has established herself as a vocal member of the anti-Trump “Resistance” movement. A month after Trump’s inauguration, Perry performed at the 2017 Brit Awards alongside giant skeletons meant to skewer Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. Just ten days prior, Perry performed at the 2017 Grammy Awards while wearing an armband that read “PERSIST,” along with a Planned Parenthood button.

The singer’s “purposeful” pop has introduced what the singer hopes will be a new era of political activism, a time that has coincided with an “awakening” of young people she says are now more politically engaged than ever before.

“It’s an awakening that was necessary because I think we were in a false utopia, we can’t ever get that stagnant again,” Perry explained. “I am so grateful that young people know the names of senators. I think teenage girls are going to save the world! That age group just seems to be holding people accountable. They have a really strong voice — and a loud one.”

Just this week, Perry posted a picture of Clinton sporting a pair of pumps, called The Hillary, that the singer says were inspired by the former secretary of state.


The $139 pumps, now for sale on Perry’s website, include a clear heel embedded with golden moon and stars meant to inspire those who wear them to “step in and reach for the stars.”





Disney seeks new patent for soft robots playing characters

8th April 2017

Soft-body robots could someday be roaming Disney theme parks, playing animated, humanoid movie characters and interacting with visitors.

A new patent application by the entertainment giant doesn’t name specific characters, but it describes “designing a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.”

A prototype sketch filed with the patent application shows a round body, echoing the shape of the Baymax soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 movie “Big Hero 6.” The application, and theme park observers, say the big issue for robotic interaction is safety. The document, dated Thursday, shows Disney research scientists in Pittsburgh have worked on prototypes identified only as “soft body 300” or “soft body 1000.”

“It’s hard to know why Disney decides to file for a patent, but they have been looking at soft-body robots since ‘Big Hero,’” said theme park writer Jim Hill. “Disney is still terrified that even with this soft technology, a robot could accidentally harm a child. They do a lot of testing.”

Disney officials declined to comment on the patent application.

The new Disney patent says soft-body robots would be “designed for reducing collision impacts during human interaction.”

“Robots can be found providing interactive guidance or entertainment in stores and amusement parks and in more dynamic settings,” the new patent filing says.

From Aladdin and Ariel to Winnie the Pooh and Woody, keeping track of character appearances at Walt Disney World is practically a full-time job for theme park blogs and websites. There are dozens and dozens of characters listed on multiple sites that track them. On Walt Disney World’s own website, visitors can search locations and times to meet specific characters. Characters roam freely or meet visitors in set-aside areas.

More robotic characters could eliminate some labor costs, although there’s no information about how much they would cost or whether it would reduce the number of costumed characters.

Free-roaming robots aren’t exactly new at Walt Disney World. Previous versions have included Push the Talking Trash Can, which was basically a remote-controlled vehicle, and Lucky the Dinosaur.

But the new patent filing describes problems with previous robot-human interaction: “It has proven difficult to provide wholly safe interactions between humans and robots simply by operating these humanoid and other robots with controlled movements.”

The new application describes pliable chambers making up the body of the robot, filled with fluid or air. The robot would be able to sense pressure on each chamber and adjust the amount of air or water, to respond to a child’s hug, or to an accidental collision.

The outer shape of the robot could be determined by “data obtained from a digital model of an animated (or other) character,” the application says.

It says frame and joint components made with a 3-D printer and outer shapes on the robot would include “a donut shape, a cylinder, and a cylinder with a round end.” It leaves open the possibility for variations on the basic concept.

The inventors are Alexander Alspach, Joohyung Kim and Katsu Yamane, who work at Disney Research Pittsburgh. They’ve been working on a prototype soft robot since at least 2014, according to Disney Research. They posted videos online showing a soft upper body of a robot holding an apple and a small plush toy.

Pittsburgh is also where Carnegie Mellon University developed a soft robotic arm that inspired Disney director Don Hall as he researched concepts for a “huggable robot,” which eventually became “Big Hero 6’s” Baymax.

Jim Hill said Hall actually brought the soft robot research to the attention of Disney’s engineers, the Imagineers, at that time.

Disney in the past has clashed with unions regarding rules for employees who portray characters. In a 2015 dispute, union representatives objected to a rule that such actors can’t publicly talk about which character they portray.

Staffing characters with costumed humans hasn’t proven foolproof, either. A 2011 lawsuit filed by a Philadelphia woman claimed that an Epcot employee dressed as Donald Duck groped her. That lawsuit alleged that Disney attempted “to cover up continuing, long-standing similar prior incidents,” and Disney declined to comment publicly; the suit was settled confidentially.

And in 2007, a Disney employee playing Tigger the tiger was suspended after a New Hampshire family accused him of punching their 14-year-old son during a home-video session at Disney-MGM Studios.

Bob Boyd, a financial analyst who follows Disney closely, said filing for a patent doesn’t mean Disney is close to rolling out new soft-body robots.

But he said it indicates that Disney continues to pursue advanced technology that interacts with guests, similar to its leading role in animatronics in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Meeting the legal and liability threshold is very difficult,” Boyd said. “Most robotics or animatronics are separated from guests by a physical barrier. But it is very difficult to have large numbers of people posing as characters too.”



MTV Movie Awards Scraps Gender-Specific Categories

8th April 2017

Audiences watching this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards will not see some familiar categories.

The Viacom-owned network announced Friday that its flagship awards show would eliminate gender-specific categories for the first time. In lieu of categories like “Best Actress” and “Best Actor,” this year’s ceremony will honor “Best Actor in a Movie” and “Best Actor in a Show,” the Associated Press reports.

The move from MTV follows similar decisions among entertainment award shows to honor stars with non-gendered awards.

This month, Billions star Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies as gender non-binary, submitted for Emmy consideration under Best Supporting Actor, because the Television Academy allows anyone to submit under either Actor or Actress categories, according to Variety.

“The Television Academy celebrates inclusiveness, and as we discussed with Asia, there is no gender requirement for the various performer categories,” the Television Academy told Variety. “Asia is free to choose the category they wish to enter.”

In 2011, the Recording Academy, which sponsors the Grammy Awards, scrapped more than 30 nominating categories, including best Native American album and best spoken-word children’s record.

This year’s Grammys featured its first-ever male and transgender “trophy girls” tasked with presenting music’s top honors onstage.

MTV’s ceremony will also rename its Best Fight category to Best Fight the System, the AP reports, as a nod to social activism.





Workplace Surveillance Is The New Office ‘Perk’

big brother facebook

8th April 2016

James Jordan rolled out of bed just before 5 a.m. on a recent Saturday and went straight to work. A job was available as soon as he logged into the Mechanical Turk website from his computer at home, a small duplex he shares with his grandmother in Bakersfield, California.

Images of t-shirts and polo shirts flashed on Jordan’s monitor, and he was asked to rate their similarity. He would earn a penny each time he completed the tiny task. The rest of the morning was a blur as Jordan raced to get more than 3,000 of them done. He skipped taking a shower and stopped only for the occasional cigarette outside — each puff a reminder that he didn’t earn money during breaks. Between batches of photos, Jordan also managed to pick up a handful of short academic surveys offered through the site, which farms out an array of digital piecework day and night to workers around the world.

For each completed survey Jordan earned 50 cents a pop.

“There are days when you can’t look away from the screen,” said Jordan, 26, who has earned a living for the last year-and-a-half tagging photos, participating in studies, or tackling whatever day labor Mechanical Turk has to offer. “Days like that make you really question why you’re doing what you’re doing.” 

By the time he wrapped up that afternoon he had made just over $60. His earnings as a virtual laborer that month, including some 12-hour days, would come in at $1,174.24. “I’ve been poor my whole life,” said Jordan. “So $1,200 is pretty good.”

Jordan is among thousands of low-paid workers toiling behind isolated screens to make the internet and an array of ephemeral factories hum.

The rapid growth of Silicon Valley companies such as Uber, TaskRabbit, and Airbnb have cast a spotlight on parts of the burgeoning gig economy. But ventures like Mechanical Turk — and the men and women who power them from bedrooms, couches, and coffee shops — remain less known and largely invisible. Tackling millions of digital micro tasks daily, these crowd labor platforms comprise a web of virtual assembly lines that can be as precarious and low-paying as their predecessors from the industrial era. Moreover, they can offer a startling glimpse into the bleak future of low-wage, low-skilled work.

“Dystopian would be one accurate way of describing it,” Moshe Marvit, a labor lawyer and scholar who has written extensively about crowd labor, told Vocativ. “The worst possible world for workers might be another.

Proponents of crowd labor offer a markedly different vision for this digital workforce, one that’s as disruptive as it is democratic. “The crowdsourcing industry [is] bringing opportunities to people who never would have had them before, and we operate in a truly egalitarian fashion, where anyone who wants to can do microtasks, no matter their gender, nationality, or socio-economic status, and can do so in a way that is entirely of their choosing and unique to them,” Lukas Biewald, the CEO of CrowdFlower, a San Francisco-based platform, told the Nation in 2014.

Sites like Crowdflower, Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, UpWork, and its dozens of competitors comprise a large — and growing — market for small, digital tasks outsourced around the globe. The World Bank estimates that the online outsourcing industry generated close to $2 billion in revenue in 2013, a figure that could increase to $25 billion by the end of the decade. Crowdwork companies boast about workforces that number in the hundreds of thousands.

Among platforms used to facilitate this market, Mechanical Turk is one of the largest in the U.S. Launched by Amazon in 2005, it now claims to have more than half a million “crowdworkers” powering its digital machine, though an exact number of active users is not available. Their jobs are ones that even the most sophisticated computers, algorithms, or other forms of artificial intelligence can’t perform, but which constitute the very nuts and bolts of the internet that most take for granted. Amorphous shop floors of crowdworkers churn out online product reviews and spam. They tag photos and websites, verify URLs, and fine tune search engine optimization. Some have also probably written the titles to your favorite porn videos online.

Companies or clients, known on Mechanical Turk as “requesters,” farm out these gigs, which are sometimes broken down into hundreds of thousands of microtasks. Workers, who refer to themselves as “Turkers,” accept these jobs — eerily referred to as HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks — that pay anywhere from a penny to several dollars each. For its role, Amazon takes a commission of anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent.

The sweeping range of microtasks made available on Mechanical Turk is matched by a labor force that’s equally motley. On any given day, the site can draw a mishmash of recent college grads and ex-cons, retirees and former school teachers, said Kristy Milland, a moderator for Turker Nation, one of the many online forums that exist for these workers. There are stay-at-home moms looking to pick up a little extra cash and full-time Turkers hustling to pay their bills. For the disabled and the socially anxious, it can be a lifeline.

“Compared to any other work place it’s insane,” Milland said of the diversity among workers on Mechanical Turk. 

But Turking ain’t always easy.

Like most who earn a paycheck in the gig economy, Turkers are categorized as independent contractors, neither employees of Mechanical Turk nor the requesters using the site. That means they are not legally entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay, or a host of other protections that cover employees. The HITs can be mind-numbingly monotonous and their availability erratic, leaving some reluctant to ever stray too far from their computers. Requesters have also been known to refuse to pay for work completed —an experience common among Turkers, though one for which they have no recourse.

What’s also drawn ongoing scrutiny is the pay. Two recent independent surveys found that around half of Turkers in the U.S. earned fewer than $5 an hour, far less than the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. Only eight percent of participants from a Pew study published last year said they made more than $8 an hour. Yet almost a quarter of them said they relied on Mechanical Turk for most or all of their income.  

“Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has become a kind of last ditch for many,” said Milland, who spent nearly a decade working full-time on the site and is now an advocate for crowd workers. “It’s creating a kind of digital underclass.”

To be clear, not all Turkers find themselves toiling as virtual day laborers for low wages. Some, in fact, have carved out a comfortable living and lifestyle around the platform. Dane, who spoke with Vocativ on the condition we not publish his last name, began Turking in 2013 after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He now says he makes more than $30,000 a year from the site and has time to run a photography business on the side. “This life feels more fulfilling for me,” said Dane, a former field service engineer. “It’s worth an awful lot.”

For Jordan, Turking might not guarantee a minimum wage for the work he puts in. But it also means no long commutes, burning money on gas, or running late. He also has a flexible schedule and no bosses telling him what he can and can’t do. “That’s a pretty nice feeling,” he said.

Such perks or perceived conveniences should not have to come at the cost of substandard pay or basic rights as a worker, said Miriam Cherry, a professor at the Saint Louis School of Law whose research focuses on labor and employment in the virtual world. “There’s plenty of computer workers in an office who get paid minimum wage. Why would that be any different if you work at home?” said Cherry, who last year co-edited the book, “Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World.”

More Turkers are beginning to recognize a need to work together in order to exert more say over their jobs. They’ve devised rating systems for vetting requesters and created various online forums where they can trade tips, alert each other to lucrative gigs, and talk about life outside of Turking. Hundreds even organized a letter writing campaign to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the message that they were human beings, not algorithms.

These worker-driven efforts have yielded some success. Scamming requesters are now easier to identify. The letter-writing campaign earned international headlines, providing a brief window of visibility for a largely anonymous workforce. But without legal protections for workers, observers like Cherry believe many will remain vulnerable to ever-greater exploitation. “If we don’t do something about it at some point that’s what we’re going to get,” she said. “It’s a race to the bottom.”

Meanwhile, the low cost and convenience of crowd labor continues to attract interest among a growing number of fields. Researchers at universities and non-profits have increasingly turned to Mechanical Turk to farm subjects for their studies — a decision that’s yielded mixed results. In the last few years, Turkers have even been used at times to diagnose a host of medical cases and work as amateur pathologists to analyze potential cancer cells. For some, such developments don’t bode well for the future of work. 

“There’s never been as deregulated a labor market as the one that exists online,” said Marvit, the labor scholar. “More professional work is going to be eaten up by it.” 




British DJ sentenced to jail in Tunisia over dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer

8th April 2016

British DJ has been sentenced to a year in jail by Tunisia for remixing a Muslim call to prayer.

Dax J, who was born in London, was charged with public indecency and offending public morality.

However, he had already fled the country and issued an apology before the court case.

After footage of the event was shared on social media, the nightclub was shut down.

The event the DJ performed at was part of the Orbit Festival in Nabeul in the country’s north-east.

The governor of Nabeul, Mnaouar Ouertani, said: “We will not allow attacks against religious feelings and the sacred”.

Footage from the event showed party-goers dancing to a remix of the Muslim call to prayer.

Dax J offered  his “sincere apologies to anyone who may have been offended by music that I played at Orbit Festival in Tunisia on Friday,” but deleted his Facebook page after allegedly receiving death threats.

“It was never my intention to upset or cause offence to anybody,” he said.

The British-born DJ is based in Berlin, and has performed at festivals all over the world including Glastonbury.




For some transgender students, the school bathroom is a battleground

fuck it thats enough

5th April 2017

Georgie Stone was eight years old when the school bathroom became a battleground.

In the face of daily humiliation and bullying, going to the toilet had become an act of enormous courage.

Born biologically male, Georgie had known from an early age she was a girl.

But despite her transition at age seven — identifying as, dressing as, and asking to be recognised as a girl — she was not allowed to use the girls’ facilities at school.

Georgie’s mother said the principal told her it would confuse the other children and potentially incite tensions with parents.

It led to an incident in the boys’ swimming change room, just before Georgie’s ninth birthday, that she describes as one of the most traumatic of her life.

“I was wearing female bathers, I had long hair and people knew that I’d transitioned. I remember walking in there and it was all boys and a lot of the people who had bullied me in the past were in there,” the 16-year-old said.

“I just remember them jeering at me, making fun of me, shouting at me, saying, ‘What’s a girl doing in the male change rooms?’. It was awful. I ran out half-dressed, crying my eyes out.”

For the rest of the term, Georgie got changed for swimming behind a tree. At school, she stopped going to the bathroom altogether.

Concerned for her safety, her parents found a more understanding school. Now she is thriving and no longer lives in fear.

But the simple act of visiting the toilet remains a minefield for many trans and gender diverse students.

Students wearing nappies to school to avoid using toilets

As global recognition of the rights and struggles of transgender people grows, the momentum is throwing up a complex set of challenges for schools, most acutely around bathroom access.

Principals are balancing the needs of trans and gender diverse young people against the potential pushback from school communities — already witnessed in the United States — where opponents argue girls born biologically male pose a risk to other students in female bathrooms.

Transgender young people and their families say they are no threat and just want to feel comfortable using toilets.

But in the absence of uniform national guidelines outlining schools’ legal obligations, some Australian students are being forced to use bathrooms that do not match their gender identity, in some instances causing them such distress that parents are pulling them out of school entirely.

Michelle Telfer, director of Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital’s Gender Service, said many young transgender people go to extreme lengths to feel safe in school bathrooms.

“We’ve seen kids who’ve worn nappies to school — in high school — to avoid going to the toilet.”

“Kids who don’t drink from the time they get up in the morning to the time they get home from school so that they’re dehydrated and they don’t need to go to the toilet,” Dr Telfer said.

Melbourne student Oliver Kipnis identified as a boy, and dressed in boys’ clothing, until he transitioned at age 10. But until he came out to his classmates he felt obliged to use the girls’ bathrooms.

“When I was about nine I had an incident at school where another girl said, ‘Aren’t you in the wrong toilets?’ So I stopped using toilets in public altogether,” the 14-year-old said.

“It was such an awkward experience and I didn’t want to repeat it so I just stopped drinking water and went to the toilet at home.”

Things are slowly changing

The Australian Education Union has called on state education departments to follow the lead of South Australia, which last month became the first state to introduce a new policy that requires all public schools to allow students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The education department developed the mandatory guidelines — which also allow students to use their preferred gender pronoun — following a number of queries from teachers and parents seeking guidance.

The policy states that, “failure to provide transgender students with access to appropriate toilet and change facilities may breach anti-discrimination legislation”.

Victoria and Western Australia have introduced similar, although less explicit, guidelines outlining how schools should support trans and gender diverse students, including allowing them to access bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said it was “vital” schools support trans and gender diverse students to access appropriate bathrooms.

However, there is growing opposition to the advance of transgender rights, particularly in schools, fuelling concerns trans children here will be caught up in the so-called “bathroom wars”.

Australian conservative groups — including the Australian Christian Lobby — have applauded US President Donald Trump’s recent move to wind back federal protections for transgender students, which had instructed public schools to allow students to use the toilets and change rooms matching their gender identities or lose government funding.

“There are lobbyists within Australia who are really keen to import that idea of fear of a threat that really doesn’t exist,” said Laura*, the mother of a 13-year-old trans girl from rural Tasmania, who runs the support group Gender Help for Parents.

“They’re just playing by the same playbook that they’ve used in the US. I think our kids are potentially going to be the next targets.”

Some parents are opting out of the school system

After campaigning fiercely against the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, The Australian Christian Lobby has called on all state governments to “take immediate steps to allow schoolgirls to feel safe in school toilets and change rooms”.

Managing director Lyle Shelton said this meant “boys identifying as girls” should not be allowed access to girls’ private spaces such as toilets and change rooms.

When asked whether he thought transgender girls using female bathrooms was a risk to other students, Mr Shelton did not comment but said: “The idea of allowing biological males identifying as girls who have not had gender reassignment surgery to enter girls’ private spaces is new.

“It is not reasonable for parents to be required, without their permission, to have their daughters participate in such a social experiment.”

In the face of confusion and potential trauma to their transgender children, some parents are opting out of the school system altogether.

Kerri* has home-schooled her 16-year-old daughter Jasmine* since she transitioned at age seven, after her school in regional South Australia insisted she would not be allowed to use the girls’ bathrooms until Kerri provided documents from a lawyer, counsellor, psychiatrist and GP.

“They were worried about legal issues. They wanted documents that would indemnify them if other parents had an issue,” she said.

While Kerri gathered the documentation, the principal offered Jasmine the disabled or staff toilets — a common solution by schools that can often leave the student feeling more alienated.

For Jasmine, it was too late.

“We had to pull her out because she was just too distressed. She would try to hold on but she was having accidents, wetting herself,” Kerri said. “There was just so much shame and fear for her.”

‘The predator myth’

As yet, no Australian student who has been denied bathroom access has publicly challenged their school.

But in the United States, Virginia teenager Gavin Grimm has become the face of the bathroom wars, taking his case to the Supreme Court, after being denied access to the male toilets and locker rooms by his school, citing breaches of federal law.

The equivalent Australian law is the Sex Discrimination Act, which Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said protected transgender students.

“Schools have a legal duty not to subject students to a ‘detriment’ or limit access to any benefit because of their gender identity,” Ms Brown said.

“In practice this means supporting students as they transition, including allowing them to use toilets that accords with the gender they live as.”

In the United States, opposition to bathroom access has centred on what equality campaigners have dubbed the “predator myth”.

Conservative groups have argued that allowing trans people to use the toilet of their affirmed gender could lead to attacks on women and girls by men or boys posing as transgender females.

In response, a coalition of more than 200 organisations working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors last year released a statement pointing out that in the 18 states where anti-discrimination laws protect trans people’s access to the bathroom of their affirmed gender, there has been no rise in sexual violence offences.

Catharine Lumby, a Macquarie University professor who researches gender and the media, argues transgender women are more likely to be the victims of a transphobic attack than predators themselves.

“The predator mythology is a smokescreen for some people’s deep discomfort with the idea that gender is fluid … often male conservatives, who’d like return to a world where gender roles were highly structured and easy to identify,” she said.

Young people aren’t ‘choosing’ to be trans

In Australia, much of the opposition rests with a discomfort about young people transitioning too early, and a belief that some will change their minds.

David van Gend, president of the Australian Marriage Forum which opposes same-sex marriage, said he was concerned that allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity “collaborates with a child’s delusion”.

“Given the fact that the vast majority of gender-confused children get over their confusion around the time of puberty, why use the authority of the school to affirm and entrench their confused behaviour?” Dr van Gend said.

Dr van Gend said such policies were “clinically reckless” and likened them to agreeing with an emaciated girl suffering from anorexia that she is fat.

“In both cases, we must strive to help the young person come back to reality.”

Dr Telfer said studies showing children grow out of their transgender identity had been widely discredited and that young people going through gender transition do so in consultation with parents, teachers and medical professionals.

“The young people we see aren’t choosing to be trans. It’s something they’ve thought about their entire life and has often taken a lot of courage over several years to speak up,” she said.

“They’re driven to come out to save themselves from self-harm and suicide.”

Dr Telfer said Oliver’ story was an example of how transgender children can flourish when offered appropriate support.

Before he came out to classmates, Safe Schools Coalition Australia visited the school at the request of the principal and worked out a plan with Oliver, his family and staff, allowing him to use the boys’ toilets and play in the boys’ sports teams.

“Nothing really changed except that they stopped using that old name and they started using the new pronoun,” Oliver said. “It wasn’t a big deal. I was just me.”