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Pleading with lawmakers, dad describes the moment he understood his transgender child

As legislation attempting to dictate what transgender people can and can't do crosses the desks of lawmakers across the country, people are sharing their perspectives. While some of those perspectives are rooted in ignorance or bigotry, others are informed by scientific research and medical opinion as well as personal, first-hand experience.

In a March 3rd hearing in Missouri, the father of a transgender daughter spoke from the heart to lawmakers about how he came to understand and accept his child's gender. The Missouri House of Representatives is considering House Resolution 53, which would create a state constitutional amendment banning trans girls from competing in girls' school sports, and Brandon Boulware wanted them to hear how such a law would impact his daughter.

But what really makes Boulware's testimony so powerful is how he explains his own evolution from "not getting it" to seeing his daughter for who she is.

"I'm a lifelong Missourian. I'm a business lawyer. I'm a Christian. I'm the son of a Methodist minister," he said. "I'm a husband, and I'm the father of four kids — two boys, two girls — including a wonderful and beautiful transgender daughter."

"Today happens to be her birthday," he added. "And I chose to be here. She doesn't know that. She thinks I'm at work."


Boulware said a common sentiment whenever transgender issues are brought up is "I don't get it. I don't understand." He said he expected that many of the lawmakers present might feel that way — a perspective he can personally relate to, as he had been in the same boat.

"I didn't get it either," he said. "For years, I didn't get it. For years I would not let my daughter wear girl clothes. I did not let her play with girl toys. I forced my daughter to wear boy clothes and get short haircuts and play on boys' sports teams."

He explained that he did those things to protect his child and her siblings from being teased, and admitted that he did it to protect himself as well. "I wanted to avoid those inevitable questions as to why my child did not look and act like a boy."

Then he laid down a hard truth.

"My child was miserable," he said. "I cannot overstate that. She was absolutely miserable. Especially at school. No confidence, no friends, no laughter. I can honestly say this — I had a child who did not smile."

For years they lived this way, he said, against the advice of therapists and experts. Then one day, everything changed for him.

His daughter had put on one of her older sister's dresses and was playing outside with her brother and some neighbor kids when Boulware came home from work. He told them it was time to come in for dinner, and when she asked if she could go across the street to play, and he said no. Then she asked if she could go across the street if she put on boy clothes first.

"And it was then that it hit me," he said. "My daughter was equating being good with being someone else. I was teaching her to deny who she is."

"As a parent, the one thing we cannot do," he added, "the one thing, is silence our child's spirit. And so on that day, my wife and I stopped silencing our child's spirit."

"The moment we allowed my daughter to be who she is, to grow her hair, to wear the clothes she wanted to wear, she was a different child," he said. "And I mean it was immediate. It was a total transformation. I now have a confident, a smiling, a happy daughter. She plays on girls' volleyball teams. She has friendships. She's a kid."

"I need you to understand," he pleaded, "that this language, if it becomes law, will have real effects on real people. It will affect my daughter. It will mean she cannot play on the girls' volleyball team, or dance squad, or tennis team. I ask you, please don't take that away from my daughter or the countless others like her who are out there. Let them have their childhoods. Let them be who they are."

The question of transgender girls in sports has become a hot topic as society wrestles with transgender people becoming more visible in society. While some argue that transgender girls have a biological advantage over cisgender girls when it comes to sports, the reality is that trans women have been officially competing in various professional women's sports for many years and dominance over cisgender women has simply not been an issue. Most of us couldn't name an elite trans athlete if we tried, despite knowing who the top performers are in various women's sports.

But what about testosterone and fairness? Scientists are divided on that topic, which makes things a bit muddy. As The Swaddle points out, testosterone is not the be-all-end-all of athletic ability:

"For everycrediblestudy and statement out there that proves greater testosterone is linked to greater athletic ability in men and women, there are equally credible studies that prove testosterone is just one of the many factors that affect sporting ability — sometimes even negatively. Take the International Association for Athletics Federation's data on elite women athletes. Its initial analysis of two world championships showed that women with higher T levels performed better in only five out of 21 events."

While there may be legitimate questions about how we define men's and women's sports and how trans athletes fit into those definitions, we also have to acknowledge that physical makeup—muscle tone, hormones, height, bone structure, etc.—varies greatly between human beings already, regardless of gender. Individuals with certain builds and certain genetic makeup already have an athletic advantages over others—that's the reality of sports in general. Does a person being transgender automatically give them a clear athletic advantage any more than someone who happens to have been born tall or muscular or having long arms or a low center of gravity?

Most youth athletes, whether transgender or cisgender, simply want to play sports for fun with their friends and won't ever achieve elite status anyway. And again, we aren't seeing trans women dominating in any professional women's sports, so unless or until that happens, this doesn't seem like the legislation-worthy issue some people are making it out to be.

Thanks to Mr. Boulware for advocating for his daughter, showing the world an honest account of his own transformation, and sharing the impact legislating trans people's lives will have.

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.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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