When the 75th anniversary of WorldCon was announced, the big question was: “Where will it be held?” There were a few options in mind, but the most popular one - the option promoted by A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin - was none other than Helsinki. Be it Martin’s influence or not, the vote indeed went to Helsinki, and so the local convention center, Messukeskus, became host to over 6,100 eager fans of science fiction and fantasy.
When I first decided to write about transgender people living in Finland I made a few assumptions that turned out to be wrong. I assumed the topic would be easy to write about because it's received such widespread media coverage over the last few years. As a liberal, I also assumed I had an evolved understanding of trans people because that's what we liberals do; we understand and empathize with marginalized groups in our society. Sometimes this attempt at understanding, however well-intentioned, may be considered patronizing by some trans people who don’t see themselves as victims to be pitied.
My understanding of trans people was lacking because of misinformation and brought to bare my own stereotypes and misconceptions. I used to think that they are people born in the wrong body who undergo gender reassignment in order to make right what nature made wrong. I confused trans people with homosexuals, believing that one's gender identity and sexual orientation were somehow linked. In the past, I believed that gender was a fixed concept. Either you were born male or female. I found out that it’s not that simple. There are those who are neither male nor female in terms of their gender identity.
An exhibition featuring photographs of the Four Seasons in Finland, taken by seven Finnish nature photographers, will be on display in the Tehran Metro during the month of April. The exhibition will be opened in Tajrish station of the Tehran Metro on 8 April 2016. The photographs included in the exhibition were taken by Hannu Hautala, Thomas Kastin, Ari-Matti Nikula, Lasse Niskala, Minttu Saarni, Juha Sahlgren and Pertti Salolainen.
On our front yard we have an ecosystem on the verge of collapse. The state of the poor Baltic Sea has long been critical but there is some reason for optimism. The Gulf of Finland has benefitted from the improved wastewater treatment in Russia and the sea was recently granted two big saline pulses bringing oxygenated water from the Atlantic.
One of the most common stereotypes that I confront in Finland as a foreigner, and man of color, is that men like me moved to Finland to take Finnish women. First of all, this stereotype forces every foreign man and Finnish woman into a narrow stereotype that ignores the more positive story. Many of us just want to be productive members of Finnish society who want to work, fall in love, and maybe raise a family. Second, the notion of taking a Finnish woman, or any woman for that matter, renders that woman voiceless and incapable of making independent romantic choices.