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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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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