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In Elemental. More on Medium.

Genes, sex hormones, and stress form a dangerous trifecta

Photo illustration source: Josep Gutierrez/Getty Images

People whose sex is male have a greater risk of developing severe Covid-19 infections and ultimately dying from the disease. Not only is that a trend doctors have observed since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s also the finding of a recent study that pooled data from over 3 million people from 47 countries. The paper, published in December in the journal Nature Communications, found that males were 2.84 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 1.39 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than females. …

The pandemic has made things more dire — but there are reasons to feel hopeful

Photo: d76 masahiro ikeda/Getty Images

This story includes descriptions of people experiencing suicidal ideation, which may be disturbing to some readers. If you or someone you know need help, consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800–273–8255 or the Trevor Project Hotline (for LGBT youth) at 866–488–7386.

If Brooklyn Scherer hadn’t been able to transition into her true gender identity, she says she wouldn’t be here today.

Raised as a boy by conservative parents in the suburbs of Seattle, Scherer, now 37, buried her true identity for decades. She’s also autistic, she tells Elemental, which led to further social isolation. …

Illustrations: Simone Noronha

Men aren’t part of the body positivity movement, but they need to be

The first time I hung out with Ryon Odneal, he ordered the chipotle avocado chicken wrap at our local diner, and the waitress knew before he could say it: “Without the wrap, right?” He laughed. When his lunch arrived — a pile of chicken, lettuce, avocado, black beans, and cheese smothered in chipotle sauce — he gestured to it. “At the height of my anorexia, I was eating maybe 1,200 calories a day,” says Odneal, a 28-year-old photographer who also manages a luxury eyewear store in Beacon, New York. “That’s, like, right here on this plate, right?” He was proud…

In her new book ‘Boys and Sex,’ Peggy Orenstein makes the case for having more frank conversations with teens about porn, consent, and feelings. Even if you’d rather poke your eye out.

Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

Peggy Orenstein has been writing bestselling books about girls’ development for 25 years, from Schoolgirls to Cinderella Ate My Daughter. But after her last book, Girls and Sex, she realized no one was talking to teenage boys about sex — or at least, not listening to them about it.

For her new book, Boys and Sex, she spent two years interviewing more than 100 boys between the ages of 16 and 22 from high schools and colleges around the U.S.

Illustrations: Adrian Forrow

The acceptable range of emotions for men is making it hard to recognize red flags — and get treatment

It was early in the 2017 NBA season when starting center Kevin Love realized his mental health was affecting his ability to play basketball — a fact that, when he wrote about it several months later, surprised many.

On the surface, the Cleveland Cavaliers player had little to be anxious about. Sure, his team lost the NBA Finals several months before to the Golden State Warriors. But athletes are accustomed to loss, and they learn how to process and then move past it. Besides, the year before, the Lebron James-led Cavaliers finally bested the Warriors to win the 2016 NBA…

New research is debunking centuries of myths

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

The question of sex differences in the brain is one that has been debated, researched, encouraged, criticized, praised, and belittled for over 200 years, and can certainly be found in different guises for long before that. It is characterized by bizarre claims (women’s inferiority comes from their brains being five ounces lighter) which can be readily dismissed, only to pop-up again in a different guise (women’s inability to read maps comes from wiring differences in the brain). Sometimes a single claim lodges itself firmly in the public consciousness as a fact and, despite the best efforts of concerned scientists, remains…

Science is revealing that when it comes to physical prowess, women may actually be the more powerful sex

Illustration by Thoka Maer

When she was 80 years old, my grandmother built a new stone wall in her garden. She’d constructed many of them during her “retirement” — years that she also spent raising me, running the local ambulance corps, and landscaping her three woodsy acres in New York’s Hudson Valley. The walls were integral to her garden designs.

Sporting a terry cloth headband that slowed (but didn’t stop) the sweat sluicing down her cheeks, she lifted and placed the recalcitrant mini-boulders — leftovers from ancient retreating glaciers — into harmonious position, like a slow dance. “It’s a physical and mental puzzle. …

Illustrations: Carolyn Figel

Research is questioning the notion that the sexual desire of women and men is inherently different

When it comes to sexual desire, men are the simpler species. Or so the conventional wisdom goes. They’re always thinking about sex and are perpetually ready to have it. Women’s carnal urges are more nuanced, mysterious even.

In popular culture, men are portrayed as porn-watching, sex-having, masturbatory beings. Chris Pratt’s character in Passengers is even willing to let a woman die for short-term companionship because he’s so attracted to her. Women, meanwhile, are shown as desiring romance over sex or simply being too enigmatic for men to pin down. …


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