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This has been the year of transgender education – with Caitlyn Jenner opening up the conversation, “transgender” isn’t a taboo or unheard of topic any longer. In previous years various people in media had tried to bring the subject to life including Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and Chaz Bono just to name a few. Even though discussion has increased, there are still some common myths many people still believe about what it means to be transgender. Below we try to debunk some of these commonly believed myths.

Myth #1: People who identify as transgender have a hormonal imbalance

Skeptics throughout the years have argued that people can’t truly be transgender – it must be unbalanced hormones! Scientist took on the task to study the link between possible hormonal imbalances and transgender identity. Earlier this year a study involving 101 transgender individuals between the ages of 12 and 14, showed their sex hormone levels were consistent with their assigned gender at birth. “We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance … it’s not,” said Johanna Olson in a statement, medical director at the Center for Transyouth Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Researchers in 1995 studied a region of the brain called the stria terminalis – a part of the brain known for sex and anxiety responses – MTF (male to female) transgender individuals had an average female-sized one while FTMs (female to male) had a region average to a male. Individuals who had undergone hormonal reversal for a variety of medical reasons after starting hormone therapy, retained the size that corresponded to their gender identity. No link was found between these findings and sexual orientation.

Myth #2: Medical intervention doesn’t necessarily lead to psychological improvement

Over 25 studies looking at cross-hormonal therapy, puberty suppressing therapy and sex re-assignment surgery have all found to have positive psychological impacts on transgender patients. Individuals who receive treatment are not only mentally better off than those who don’t, but they aren’t significantly any different in day-to-day functioning compared to the general population.

Myth #3: All transgender people want to transition

Not all people who identify as transgender want to start hormone therapy or have sex re-assignment surgery. Some transgender people will choose to go through hormone therapy but not have any surgeries, while others will have certain surgeries and choose to not take hormones. Every individual’s definition of transitioning is different and each person has a different experience regarding their body and transitioning.

A new video has surface online explaining “juvenoia” – the belief that during each generation children were better off in the previous one. The video was uploaded by the popular YouTube channel Vsauce, a brand created by YouTube personality Michael Stevens. In the video Steven explains Sociologist David Finkelhorn was the first to coin the term “juvenoia,” – meaning an “exaggerated fear” about what influences children nowadays. A fear according to Finkelhorn, exists in every generation. This can be seen in an article published by the Sunday Magazine in 1871 regarding the dying out of letter writing, “we fire off a multitude of rapid and short notes, instead of sitting down to have a good talk over a real sheet of paper.” Can we say the same for smart phones today? Stevens explains a series of examples through different generations all which can be seen on the website Watch the video and decide for yourself. Is technology and other factors of our time negatively affecting kids these days?  

Sustainability, Science, Innovation
Hannah Herbst, 15, from Boca Raton, Florida, might just be one of North America’s top young scientists. She won first place in the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientists Challenge along with a $25,000 prize – for creating an energy prototype probe that converts ocean currents into energy for just $12 – placing first out of nine other finalists. Herbst’s probe is made up of low-cost recycle materials creating a hydroelectric generator with a propeller – able to power a small LED light system. “I really want to end the energy poverty crisis and really help the other methods of renewable energy collection to generate more power and to make our world a better place for everyone,” Herbst says. She made the probe seeking to create a stable power source to developing countries by using ocean currents. It was inspired by Herbst’s desire to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable energy source. Marine current power is not widely used at the moment, but it has potential for electricity generation in the future. Marine currents are more predicable that solar and wind power. A 2006 report by the United States Department of the Interior estimated that capturing that 1/1000th of the available energy in the Gulf Stream would supply Florida with 35% of its electrical needs.

Environment, Science, Innovation
You can now grow your own organic vegetables, herbs and even rainforest in your own home. BioPod is the world’s first Smart Microhabitat – just tap the environment you wish to have on the BioPod App and it will produce the conditions necessary to create it. The tank comes with an IOS and Android app – through your phone you can regulate lighting, humidity, temperature and rainfall. The BioPod also comes with a high definition camera allowing users to check in on what’s happening while they’re away. Currently, three versions of the tank are in development: The Biopod One is suitable for vegetables, herbs and small animals; the BioPod Terra is the same, but of a larger size; and finally, the BioPod Aqua, which works like an ecosystem designed for plants and fish – it uses fish and fish waste in combination with plants to grown food. The BioPod was created by Canadian biologist and BioPod Founder Jared Wolfe, with the purpose of mimicking a rainforest environment to help save endangered frogs from extinction. The company states their vision on their website: “to bring a community of plant and animals lovers together in order to solve some of earth’s conservation and sustainability issues.”

Sustainability, Environment
India’s Cochin International Airport has become the first in the world to be powered solely on solar energy. Creating the “absolutely power neutral” airport will be 40,000 solar panels laid across 45 acres – producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day to be used for all its operational functions. The green initiative will avoid carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years, having an impact equivalent of planning three million trees. “When we had realized that the power bill is on the higher side, we contemplated possibilities. Then the idea of tapping the green power came in,” says V.J. Kurian, Managing Director of Cochin International Airport in a press release. The airport started using solar panels back in 2013 when it installed them on the Arrival Terminal block. The project expanded and eventually plans were agreed for the giant solar patch to be created. “We consume around 48,000 unit (KWh) a day,” Kurian explains. “So if we can produce the same, that too by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development that we always follow, that would transcend a message to the world. Now this has become the world’s first airport fully operates on solar power.”

UBC achieved a score in the top 10 universities rated under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System – a self-reporting system developed by the AASHE. Among universities with over 30,000 students, UBC came in second place. This is the second consecutive Gold rating UBC has received from the ASSHE. “This recognition is further proof of our commitment to leadership in global sustainability through groundbreaking research, education and innovative projects on campus,” said Martha Piper, interim president of UBC in a statement. UBC launched Canada’s first sustainability office in 1997 and has received the maximum “innovation credits” for its initiatives, which include: a 20-year sustainability strategy, behavioural research in support of creating a zero-waste campus, UBC Farm’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and energy system upgrades to reduce UBC’s thermal energy use and GHG emissions. Image: UBC Public Affairs “STARS provides a robust platform to measure our sustainability progress over time, assess gaps and opportunities to improve sustainability performance, and receive external recognition for sustainability efforts across campus,” said Associate Vice-President of Campus and Community Planning in a statement, Michael White. UBC also offers over 600 sustainability related courses and over 40 sustainability-related programs. The university remains on track to reach the green house gas emission reduction targets established in 2010 with the Vancouver Campus Climate Action Plan – planning to reduce emissions 33 per cent by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2050.