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Pop Culture

'A Run for More' shows us what it's like to be a transgender candidate in Texas politics

It's a story of hope, self and fighting for your seat at the table.

a run for more, politics, documentary, frankie gonzales-wolfe

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe is the subject of the documentary, "A Run for More."

When we think about elections, so many of us focus on presidential elections and forget about congressional, statewide or even smaller, local elections. The documentary film, “A Run for More,” focuses on Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe as she runs for one of those local positions—city council member in San Antonio, Texas. Focusing on Gonzales-Wolfe as the first openly transgender woman to run for such office, the film shows how the campaign gave Gonzales-Wolfe a deeper sense of self. I was lucky enough to chat with her and the film’s director, Ray Whitehouse, about their friendship, the campaign, making the film and Frankie’s future political plans.


The pair met in 2016 when Whitehouse was working on a project about political campaign volunteers. At the time, Gonzales-Wolfe was working as a volunteer on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She has worked on dozens of campaigns over the years—her first was Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 while still in high school.

“The film [“A Run for More”] really came from the relationship we built in 2016,” Whitehouse explained. “I came to Frankie with this idea about exploring ideas around who was qualified to run for office, who is not qualified and what are the lived experiences that fit into those categories.”

A Run for More - Trailer

A Run for More - Trailer from Ray Whitehouse on Vimeo.

In 2018, after growing tired of politicians using diversity and inclusion as a running platform but not an actual practice, Gonzales-Wolfe decided that she was going to run for city council. Of course, Whitehouse suggested filming the whole experience and turning it into a feature-length documentary. For Gonzales-Wolfe, allowing the process to be filmed would allow it to stand as a living document and testament to what it’s like to run for political office when you’re trans, especially in a place that is traditionally conservative, like Texas.

“The kind of conversation I wanted to generate was this kind of conversation around the two worlds that Frankie had to navigate: one world was sort of like 'hey I’m just Frankie and I'm running for office,' she didn’t necessarily get taken very seriously. But then when she tried to foreground her identity as a trans woman trying to do this groundbreaking thing, then you get into the flipside. By highlighting her visibility, the unfortunate reality is that’s what leads to attacks,” Whitehouse said.

The National League of Cities describes city council members as “legislators of a municipality who are democratically elected to decide which services will be provided and how to pay for them, among many other tasks.” Because of the nature of the work, the position is elected, but is nonpartisan, meaning you don’t have to be affiliated with a particular political party to run. Council members serve their most local constituents on local matters, which means they’re serving a diverse group of people with equally diverse needs and interests.

A native Texan, you can see that Gonzales-Wolfe really cares for the people where she’s from and believes that she can have a hand in creating a better place for her neighbors and herself. Much of her platform revolves around local changes she can make, like protecting small businesses and giving them space in the local airport. She’s also a caring and loving wife and daughter—you see a lot of her time at home with her husband Jeff. “A Run for More” gives you a look at how a regular person can make a difference. But also, it reveals that politics can teach you a lot, especially about yourself.

“For me, it wasn’t so much of a balance as it was telling Ray, 'if we’re going to do a documentary and you’re going to be shooting about me, about my life, what it is to be a trans woman—a trans person in Texas, you have to be all in,' which means you’re going to see me at my worst, my best, stressed, not wearing makeup. I wanted to be able to capture the true sentiment of ‘I’m not different than anyone else’ when it comes to family,'” Gonzales-Wolfe told me.

“A Run for More” is not without its heavy moments. During one scene near the middle of the film, Gonzales-Wolfe tells the story of her sexual assault in striking detail. It’s not in the film for shock value—it shows her resilience, and how it takes time to get to a point where it doesn’t define her.

“That situation didn’t define who I am as a woman, even though those men wanted to make it a point to let me know it would define me as a woman,” she shared.

a run for more, trans woman, politics

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe and her volunteers were very busy on the campaign trail.

A Run for More

In another scene, she and her volunteers are tasked with door-to-door canvassing. While a typical part of campaigning, it’s not without its own challenges. But this particular moment will highlight something many of us don’t think about. The campaign consultant she’s working with (who is a successful advisor and friend) has them working from a list of exclusively Republican and conservative constituents. It’s a nonpartisan race—Gonzales-Wolfe and her team are well aware that they have to appeal to voters on both sides of the political table.

We see her walking up to doors and knocking…most doors don’t even open. A few do and take a flier. But then there’s one house where the resident is clearly one of the angry Republican types we have seen on television. He berates Gonzales-Wolfe for only listening to CNN and other “left wing” news and not watching Fox News or listening to the other side. She calmly assures him that she is listening and will fight for everyone. When the door closes, she is clearly rattled by the interaction and makes the decision that the team will switch to phone banking the rest of the list.

Later that same day, a visibly upset Gonzales-Wolfe tells her team about a phone call she has just ended. During the call, the voter she was speaking with calls her a “f***ing tranny,” which understandably upsets and enrages her. Talking to her campaign consultant later (who is upset that the team deviated from the plan of in-person canvassing) she relays the conversations again, still very upset by the interactions.

Sending a trans person into interactions like that can have multiple outcomes. It could be the ones that Gonzales-Wolfe encountered, where people just said things that were unkind or spoke in a tone that was rattling. But things could have escalated to violence, especially during the in-person interaction. By canvassing in person, she was opening herself up to physical violence. You never know what’s in a person’s mind. There are multiple scenes in the film where we see Gonzales-Wolfe and her team repairing campaign signage around town that was torn down because she is trans.

a run for more, trans women, activists

Frankie meets with local trans activists.

A Run for More

The most positive moments in the film come from her interactions with other trans people. She touches on it in the film, but it’s clear that connecting with her transness has been challenging to her in her transition. Running for office forced her to interact with local transgender activists in her community to truly understand what trans people in Texas are fighting for. As a result, it deepened her understanding and connection to the local community and to herself.

“I’m embarrassed right now,” Gonzales-Wolfe tells her husband at home after a trans lobby day. “For the past 20 plus years, I’ve stayed away from…I’ve never been an activist. I’ve been in politics, but I’ve never been an activist within the LGBTQIA community—especially on trans issues. I can’t lie about it.”

Ultimately, Gonzales-Wolfe lost the election, coming in third. Of course the loss was disappointing, but not discouraging. Currently, she is working as the chief of staff for the county commissioner, but she’s absolutely not ruling out another run for office in the future.

“Now is not the time, I believe I will be given a sign when the time comes,” Gonzales-Wolfe said. “But yeah, I do see myself running again, but I don’t see myself running in a nonpartisan race. It’s not local government that has written laws against me or shun who I am as an individual. It has been people at the state level and I feel that is where I’ll best be able to use my skill set as a voice for the voiceless.”

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17