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Cross-dressing soccer star seeks international acceptance

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By Kirsten Anderson

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- With the 2014 World Cup now in full swing, billions of eyes are on the soccer field, and will be until the final game July 13.

Two of those eyes belong to Johnny Saelua, 25, a full-time male-to-female cross-dresser who now goes by the name Jaiyah and has played for the American Samoa men’s team since the age of 14.

"I didn't know the significance it had on the world because in Polynesian culture it's not that big of an issue."

In most of the world, Saelua would be considered “transgender.” He began dressing as a female in his teen years – a practice Samoans call “fa'afafine,” meaning "in the manner of [a] woman." Polynesian culture largely treats the “fa’afafine” as a third sex – neither fully male nor fully female.  Because sex change procedures are not generally available in American Samoa, practitioners usually retain their male physiology while assuming the societal role of a female.

Saeula says he never thought much of his effeminate dress and behavior until he began playing international soccer.  Because he is biologically male, he always played on men’s teams, and quickly gained a reputation for his hard tackles and rough play. He was surprised to learn in 2011 that he was the first full-time transvestite to play soccer for an international team.

"I didn't know the significance it had on the world because in Polynesian culture it's not that big of an issue,” Saeula told the AFP.  “I assumed that a lot more trans-people in the Pacific region were playing international football. I haven't met any in my career but I was so sure that there has been [some] before me."

Although Saeula’s Samoan teammates were generally accepting of his effeminate looks and behavior, he encountered resistance when he tried out for the men’s soccer team at the University of Hawaii, where he is studying dance.

"At the warm-up for the try-outs the coach pulled me aside and said that he didn't want to put his team in an uncomfortable position,” Saeula told the AFP, “and I knew that was my cue to leave. So I only spent 10 minutes during the warm-up and I didn't even get to show how good a player I was."  Afterwards, he told Vice News, “I cried my eyes out.”

Since he wasn’t going to be able to play soccer for the men’s team, and he was in Hawaii, where sex-change procedures are readily available, he decided to begin “transitioning” in preparation for sex-change surgery.  In 2011, the 6’1” defender began taking female hormones to make himself look and sound more feminine. 

But the next time he went home for break, he was offered his old spot on the international tournament team.  The team had a new coach, and for the first time, a slim hope of qualifying for the World Cup.  Saeula dialed back the dosage on his hormones and postponed his transition. “I didn’t want to be too soft on the field, or play at my lowest potential,” he told Vice News.

The 2011 team did not make the World Cup, but they did win their first game in 30 years – a prequalifying match against Tonga.  The win was so exciting that Saeula decided to put off his sex-change surgery and keep playing for another four years.

This year, American Samoa won’t be playing in the World Cup, and Saeula has decided to retire from soccer after 2015 and pursue the sex-change operation after all.  He said that while “there are no rules” forbidding transsexuals from playing on international soccer teams, he is concerned that the surgery, which typically includes total genital reconstruction and breast implants, would make tough tackles “risky for me."  He also said he needs testosterone to play to his full ability.

The question of how to handle self-identified “transgender” athletes has become an issue in the United States and other jurisdictions.

California has passed a law allowing public school athletes to play for whatever team matches their self-perceived gender, without regard for biological sex.  If Saeula was growing up there today, he would be eligible to play on a female team whether he handicapped himself with hormones and surgery or not – meaning the 6’1”, tough-tackling male powerhouse could have played high school and college matches against teenage girls – and shared a locker room with them.

NCAA rules allow transsexual college athletes to play on the opposite sex’s team regardless of surgical status.  The only stipulations are that men have to have undergone at least one year of hormone suppression therapy before playing on a women’s team, and women who take testosterone are barred from competing on female teams.  In 2012, Chelsea Philbrook, who now goes by Chase, became the first college athlete to play on both the female and the male soccer teams at the University of Maine after she began taking testosterone and had to make the switch.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, which governs many state youth soccer organizations, passed blanket rules in 2012 permitting “self-determination” for transgender athletes.  All one needs is a state-issued ID or a doctor’s note declaring one’s preferred sex. 

“We don't discriminate,” Robert Contiguglia, who chaired the committee that wrote the policy, told Between the Lines News. “We accept who you say you are, so long as you follow the rules. It's a self-determination policy.”


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

Steve Weatherbe
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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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