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5 ways to support your trans friends when they come out.

After director Lilly Wachowski was forced to come out, it's a good time for a refresher course on how to be an ally to your trans friends.

Writer and director Lilly Wachowski — known as co-creator of "The Matrix" series of films, "Jupiter Ascending," and "Sense8" — recently came out publicly as transgender.

For many gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people, one of the most personal (and sometimes scary) experiences they'll go through is the "coming out" process.

Coming out means telling others of your status as an LGBT person. As society is becoming more accepting of people's sexual orientation and gender identity, coming out is getting easier all the time. Even so, for many, it's still a carefully calculated process that involves planning who, how, and when to tell people in their lives.


It's so great that Lilly came to that realization about herself and started living more authentically. In 2012, her sister Lana also came out as trans. What's not cool about this is the fact that Lilly was forced to out herself, in a letter she chose to share with The Windy City Times, after a reporter from The Daily Mail threatened to do it without her permission.


A self-portrait of Lilly Wachowski, courtesy of Windy City Times.

If someone trusts you with news that they're trans, there are a few key do's and don'ts you should follow — and telling a journalist definitely falls under "don't."

As a transgender person, one of the most common questions I get from strangers is: "My friend or family member recently told me that they're transgender. How can I support them?"

Below are five tips I give people who are thoughtful enough to ask.

1. Let them know they have your support.

If you're asking this question (or taking the time to look up an article on the subject), you're already on the right path. It's important to make sure your friend knows you're in their corner, as they're probably afraid of how others in their lives will react. A simple "If you need anything, I'm here for you" can go a long way.

Director/writer/producer Lana Wachowski attends the premiere of Warner Bros.' "Jupiter Ascending" at TCL Chinese Theatre in 2015. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

2. Respect their identity, name, and pronouns.

Ask questions like "What are your pronouns?" and "How would you like me to refer to you in private and when we're around people who may not know you're transitioning?"

If somebody is just starting to come out to others, odds are that there are still some people who don't know and might still use old names and pronouns. Asking how you should react in those situations will help you avoid outing your friend to others who don't yet know.

Trans man Chaz Bono. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

3. Educate yourself — don't rely on your friend to educate you.

There are so many great resources on how to understand trans issues. While your friend may be happy to answer those initial personal questions about things like names and pronouns, they might become overwhelmed if you start treating them as a walking encyclopedia of all things trans.

I recommend PFLAG's amazing resource "Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families, and Friends of People who are Transgender and Gender Expansive." The 102-page guide is a comprehensive piece of "Trans 101" literature that's bound to answer some of your questions (complete with some more thorough do's and don'ts).

Writer Janet Mock. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

4. Don't gossip about them or "out" them to others.

The only people you should be discussing your friend's gender with are people they've given you explicit permission to do so with. Going behind their back and outing them to someone they may not yet be ready to tell is not only a huge betrayal of their trust, but it could even put them in physical danger.

On top of that, when someone is hearing this news from a secondhand source (that is, you), some of the important details may get lost in translation, which get further garbled if this person tells someone else — it eventually turns into a game of telephone, and no one wants that.

A vigil for slain transgender woman Islan Nettles at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem in 2013. Nettles was severely beaten after being approached on the street by a group of men and later died of her injuries. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

5. Understand that this is not about you and your feelings.

It's OK to feel confused, and it's OK to not immediately "get it." Those feelings are completely valid, but demanding to know why your friend didn't tell you sooner (they were probably wrestling with this themselves for quite some time) or saying you feel betrayed will only hurt them during an extremely vulnerable time in their life.

Nothing you did "made" your friend trans, and it's probably less that they were hiding something from you and more that they were hiding this reality from themselves.

Laverne Cox at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2015. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for GLAAD.

Whether someone is a Hollywood director or a friend from high school, we should all have the right to come out at our own pace and in our own way.

Maybe years from now the aspect that makes this seem like such juicy gossip will fade and trans people won't have to worry about being forcibly outed. Maybe years from now trans people won't need to fear that coming out will be met with job loss, homelessness, or physical harm. Until then, it's important that those of us who care for our trans friends and family members do what we can do show we're there for them.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Blake's owner sings and he "sings" along.

When a dog howls along to music, are they complaining because the music hurts their ears, or are they actually trying to sing along?

Most likely, it's the latter—or something like it. According to the American Kennel Club, research shows that canines do actually have a sense of pitch and can differentiate between different tones. That ability stems from their wolf ancestors, who each howl at a different pitch as more and more wolves join in on a group howl.

So when Blake the rescue Rottweiler joins his owner in a viral TikTok video duet, perhaps he's really trying to "sing" along with her.

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As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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