The Week on Twitter: The Budget, Girls to Men, and Paul O’Connell

This week, Twitter said thanks to Paul O’Connell, boycotted Channel 4’s transgender documentary ‘Girls to Men,’ and celebrated National Coming Out Day. We also had a lot to say about this year’s budget, and Enda Kenny’s apparent desire to murder Mary Lou McDonald.

Michael Noonan announces #Budget16

Early in the week, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure and Reform minister Brendan Howlin told us all about Ireland’s budget for next year. Some dubbed it the “giveaway budget,” or the “election budget,” considering the government was boosting spending by about €1.5 billion ahead of next year’s GE.

And conveniently boost spending they did. The Universal Social Charge (USC) rate was reduced, meaning that those earning less than €70,000 a year would see an increase in their yearly income of about the equivalent of a week’s wages. Capital Gains Tax dropped 13%, while a new Earned Income Tax Credit was introduced for those who are self-employed, leaving them with an extra credit to the value of €550. Those on minimum wage also benefited (somewhat) from #budget16 as they saw a 50c pay increase, giving them a massive €9.15 an hour instead of the usual €8.65. There was no reference made to the introduction of a Living Wage.

The budget also saw the introduction of a two week paid paternity leave for new fathers, and an unsurprising rise of 50c for cigarettes. There was no change in the price of alcohol.

Noonan’s announcement that NAMA were to build 20,000 social housing units by 2020 was met with criticism from the galleries, while the €17 million allocated for emergency homeless housing was quickly undermined by the €50 million the government is planning to spend on commemorating the 1916 rising.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s subsequent actions in the Dáil chamber sparked a strong reaction online, when he was caught pounding his fist while Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald gave her response to the budget. Dáil representatives have dismissed Kenny’s gestures as meaningless and claimed that he was simply listening intently, but McDonald has stated that she found his action “unusual,” and suggested that it not be repeated.

A full rundown of the budget, and how it might affect you, can be found here.

Ireland says #ThanksPaulie

Following the Irish rugby team’s triumph over France last weekend, it was revealed that the legend that is Paul O’Connell would be ending his international career. After it was confirmed that POC had suffered a torn hamstring during Ireland’s Pool D win, many expressed concern for his ability to play in the rest of the rugby World Cup.

It wasn’t long before the IRFU issued a statement confirming that O’Connell’s injury would require surgery and that he would “not play again at Rugby World Cup 2015.”

Rugby fans, POC fans, and Ireland fans took to Twitter to express their dismay, and to thank Paul O’Connell for his dedication to the sport, and for being a generally sound individual. It was a dark day for Irish rugby.

Channel 4’s new transgender documentary receives some heavy criticism #GirlstoMen

This week, Channel 4 aired ‘Girls to Men’ – a documentary following the lives of a group of young transgender men. The programme was the final installment of the channel’s Born in the Wrong Body season, which also included ‘My Transgender Kid’ and ‘My Trans Story.’ According the Channel 4, the season was to be an unsensationalised documentation of the transgender community.

However, before the documentary aired, many expressed concern about the programme’s true agenda – which seemed to be the presentation of a purely cosmetic transition from one gender to another, with a considerable focus on surgical procedures and hormone treatments. The title of the programme itself – ‘Girls to Men’ – also sparked outrage within and outside of the trans community, as it suggested that transgender men only became men after they began physically transitioning.

Many Twitter users called for a boycott of the documentary, which they believed neither represented the transgender community, nor the realities of being a transgender man or woman.

One transgender man, CJ, articulated his aversion for the programme in this article, where he described how Channel 4 had approached him to be a part of an educational documentary called ‘The T(estosterone) Diaries’ on Facebook. When the name of the programme was changed to ‘Girls to Men,’ CJ expressed his desire to be disassociated from the documentary, only to be told that the three other transgender men involved were fine with the change and that nothing could be done about it. CJ also stated that he never gave Channel 4 permission to use “before and after” pictures and videos of him, which had been ripped from his YouTube channel when he was initially involved with the project.

Following the backlash, Channel 4 tweeted that they were still very proud of their documentary that not only supports a fairly offensive title, but also misgenders just about every transgender man in the world.

Alright, so.

Twitter celebrates #NationalComingOutDay!

October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, where members of the LGBT community are encouraged to express their sexuality and reject the societal homophobia associated with ignorance. Many took to the internet to share their own coming out stories, spread awareness of the legitimacy of their sexual orientation, and to reassure others that choosing not to come out was okay too.

Some cis straight people thought it would be cool and hip to try hijack National Coming Out Day to let the world know that they were in fact straight. It was neither cool nor hip, and nobody was impressed.

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