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Etsy's latest move is an awesome and simple bit of office inclusivity.

'We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them.'

Etsy's latest move is an awesome and simple bit of office inclusivity.

There are some really weird, outdated laws on the books in states across the country.

These types of lists pop up year after year. For example, did you know that in a number of states, it's illegal to sell cars on a Sunday? Or that in Massachusetts, you can be fined for singing the national anthem as dance music or in a medley?

Well, there's another law many states have on the books, and it has to do with how businesses should label their bathrooms by gender. But, in 2015, the law doesn't quite reflect reality for many people. And as we as a society become more aware of the fact that gender isn't as binary as bathroom doors might make it seem, well, what's a company to do?


Here's one company's creative solution:

Etsy made restrooms at their office gender-neutral. Or, well, as gender-neutral as the law allows.

An Etsy engineer named Sara posted this picture to Twitter.


That's cool, right? The fact is that not everybody neatly fits into "man" or "woman." Some people are a mix of both, neither, or something entirely altogether. When it comes to public restrooms, that can make things rough. The same goes for transgender people even within the gender binary.

"At Etsy, we continually examine our internal culture and practices, with a focus on fostering an inclusive, comfortable environment for everyone," Etsy vice president of people, workplace, and sustainability Brian Christman told Upworthy in an email.

"With this in mind, we’ve updated restrooms at our DUMBO headquarters to increase privacy and make them more accessible to all people, including transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them."


Image from Etsy, used with permission.

So it's pretty obvious how Etsy's bathroom signs can be helpful for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming folks, but what's this about state laws? And how does this story tie into ridiculous laws about dyeing ducks different colors or being unable to seek public office if you've ever participated in a duel?

In most states, it's required that businesses have separate restrooms for both men and women.

Here's how the law in New York — where Etsy is headquartered — reads:

"Separate toilet facilities shall be provided for each sex. All toilet facilities shall be provided with soap, paper towels or electrical hand drying units, and covered waste receptacles. Suitable sanitary napkin receptacles shall be provided in toilet facilities used by females."

OK, got it. Businesses have to provide separate facilities with soap, paper towels, and covered trash cans, and sanitary napkin disposal for the women's room.

And where do these types of laws even come from? The 19th century.

In a great article titled "Sex-Segregated Public Restrooms Are an Outdated Relic of Victorian Paternalism," Ted Trautman gives a quick rundown of where the idea of sex-segregated restrooms even comes from and why they exist. After all, in your house, do you have separate men's and women's restrooms? Probably not.

"Sex segregation was seen by regulators at the time as 'a kind of cure-all' for the era's social anxiety about working women," Trautman writes.

"Women's growing presence in the factory workforce, and in public life more generally, triggered a paternalistic impulse to 'protect' women from the full force of the world outside their homes, which manifested itself architecturally in a bizarro parallel world of spaces for women adjacent to but separate from men's — ladies' reading rooms at libraries, parlors at department stores, separate entrances at post offices and banks, and their own car on trains, intentionally placed at the very end so that male passengers could chivalrously bear the brunt in the event of a collision."

So, in 1887, Massachusetts became the first state to require businesses to have sex-segregated restrooms.


Ah, the good ol' 19th century factory! This is quite literally the model of sex-segregated restrooms. Women operating looms in the winding room of a Lancashire cotton mill. Photo by James Valentine/Getty Images.

And while women-only entrances to post offices and banks, separate reading rooms at libraries, and women-only train cars have become a thing of the past, the whole separate bathroom issue remains to this day.

What's so ridiculous about this law? Well, for one, it's inefficient.

Think about all the times you've seen the line for a women's restroom wrap around down a hallway while the men's room remains line-free. New York City realized this was a problem and decided the solution was ... to require places to build more women's rooms.

Like, this is what happened when more women started getting elected to Congress. As it turns out, the building was made for dudes. Lots and lots of dudes.


But really, if there's a situation where, let's say eight women and two men need to use the restroom, which of these layouts is more efficient?

This one, the one we're most familiar with, where three women are left waiting in line even though there are three perfectly available stalls to use in the men's room?

Or this one that takes up the same amount of space, but which all 10 people can use, do what they have to do, and go about their day?

Obviously, the all-gender restroom is the more efficient option.

But whoa whoa whoa, you may be thinking, "I don't want to share a bathroom with the men in my office!" or "I don't want to share a bathroom with the women in my office! I want some privacy!"

And you should get it! In an ideal world, restrooms would all be single-stall. I mean, who really wants to do ... you know ... next to someone else, anyway? But that's kind of the world we live in.

Breathe easy because it's unlikely all-gender restrooms will come to replace the standard men's and women's rooms anytime soon. Instead, as you'll see with more regularity, lots of places offer up men's, women's, and all gender restrooms. This way, people have a choice (and trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people have the option of using that if they so choose).

For example:

An increasing number of places are moving forward with adopting inclusive restrooms. Especially colleges.

The names vary — gender-neutral, unisex, all gender, gender-inclusive — but the purpose remains the same: restrooms able to be used by anyone of any gender.


Illinois State University has all-gender restrooms. There are still men's and women's restrooms found across campus, but they recently decided to swap the names of the "family restrooms" with more straight-forward language. The same goes for Columbia University, Barnard College, and a growing number of campuses across the country.

In a move as simple as adding a sign to their restroom doors, Etsy is taking a stand for inclusivity and progress.

Yes, it's that easy. To the overwhelming majority of their employees and office visitors, the change will have zero effect on how they navigate the office. But for a few, it'll make a huge, positive impact on their stress and ability to navigate the work day.

"We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them."

While laws in many places may require there to be separate restrooms labeled "men's" and "women's," that doesn't mean it's impossible to make the world a more inclusive place. It really can be as simple as a sign letting transgender and gender nonconforming individuals know that yes, they are welcome here.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Chris Evans is playing the lead role in the upcoming Pixar film "Lightyear."

Chris Evans was already skilled at squeezing hearts on social media, cavalierly sharing sweet pics of his adorable dog and piano-playing videos on Instagram, as if we could just casually watch him be a near-perfect man without swooning. And now he's being even more delightful with his gushing giddiness over getting to play his dream role.

The guy is already best known as the studly Marvel superhero Captain America, so what could possibly top that? Pixar, apparently. Evans' ultimate acting dream is being in a Pixar movie. And now that dream is coming true, the most eligible of the Chrises could not be cuter in his expressions of joy.

Sharing the new trailer for "Lightyear"—Pixar's origin story about the astronaut the Buzz Lightyear toy was based on in the "Toy Story" universe—Evans wrote on Twitter:

"I'm covered in goosebumps. And will be every time I watch this trailer. Or hear a Bowie song. Or have any thought whatsoever between now and July cause nothing has ever made me feel more joy and gratitude than knowing I'm a part of this and it's basically always on my mind."

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The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick and Gavin are 28, 26 and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching [Game of Thrones], and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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