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Here's what actual trans military voices have to say about Trump's ban.

An estimated 15,000 trans people currently serve in the military.

In June 2016, the U.S. secretary of defense made a long-overdue announcement: The military was ending its ban on transgender service members.

With the 2011 end to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving, allowing trans people to serve openly seemed like the logical next step.

As then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter explained, “Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission.”


Fast-forward a year, and President Trump has undone that progress, tweeting that "the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military."

He cited "tremendous medical costs" as the reason behind his decision despite the fact that a RAND Corporation study found that the total additional cost of allowing trans people to serve in the military is $2.4 million-8.4 million. (For comparison, in 2014, the military spent more than 10 times that on erectile dysfunction medication alone.)

But maybe Trump's decision wasn't about cost at all. According to Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, a Trump administration official was quoted as saying the move "forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue."

"How will the blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plan of their campaigns?" Swan quoted the official as saying.

In other words, Trump's decision doesn't seem to be about readiness, cost, or any of the other reasons frequently tossed around by opponents of trans inclusion in the military. Instead, it's just a game of politics, with trans lives as pawns.

There are currently an estimated 15,000 trans people serving in the military. What do they think of Trump reinstating the ban? We asked them.

Amanda Clark was discharged back in 2007 after coming out as trans. While she says she's ambivalent about military service, she sees this as a matter of basic civil rights.

"I can’t possibly fathom what openly out trans people in the military are feeling right now. Hell, I feel scared now just being a trans person in the civilian world. It feels like the f*cking fascists who run this country are coming for us, and openly serving trans people are next. I’m sure a lot of officers/[non-commissioned officers] are going to be thrilled to get involved in paperwork hell discharging folks."

Kristen Carella, who served on active duty 2001-2005 as an intelligence analyst stationed in Germany, pointed out that many U.S. allies (18 in total, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) allow trans people to serve without issue.

"Here was an opportunity for this country to move forward, recognizing the sacrifices transgender people have ALWAYS made in the armed forces, by allowing us to serve openly. [According to Human Rights Campaign] stats 26% of the trans community serves in the military at some point during their lives, that is TWICE the rate of the general population.

Trump's decision is a stunning reversal that can be taken only as a slap in the face, personally to every transgender person who has ever served. It accomplishes nothing more than making sure transgender people remain a demonized and hated target that right-wing politicians can target to scare their base and push their agendas. Of course, all of this demonization ensures that the ignorant violence which leads bigots to murder transgender people in the streets (particularly trans women of color) will continue."

Penelope R., an intersex trans woman who served in the Air Force for six years before leaving to pursue transition, says "members are going to die" because of this new policy, and she urges those who might not generally support the military to care about this.

"[The] American military, despite its many infelicities, has always been a reliable space for many kinds of marginalized people to hide out in. This is why trans people are disproportionately represented in the military.

Enlisting was always a last resort for me — I've known I was trans since I was a child, and knew going into the military meant carving away parts of my identity I cherished, but at the time the alternative was death. Just death. I chose to live, and as a result I met my wife, found a chosen family that makes the sun rise for me, made enough money to afford transition, and qualified me to receive transitional health care from the Illinois VA. ... The military helped make my life worth living. And now it's all gone to shit for everyone.

Despite what he says, there's nothing Trump can say or do to stop trans people from serving — he can only get rid of those he knows about. It will only go back to how it was before, with trans service members confined to the closet at the risk of their careers."



Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifts the ban on trans troops on June 30, 2016. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Landon Wilson, who served in the Navy and was the topic of a widely read 2014 Washington Post profile about trans people in the military, points out that the  ban means "honorably serving people" will be removed from service, "effectively weakening our country."

"It's a heartbreaking shame that the President of the United States is choosing to ignore the sacrifices of transgender service members, particularly at a time where so many have proven their dedication to this country. A diverse military makes a strong military; by removing honorably serving people from service, the President is effectively weakening our country, both as a fighting force and as a leader in civil rights."

Vivian Wise, an information systems technician on active duty in the Navy, came out to her shipmates the day President Obama and Secretary Carter lifted the ban in 2016. She disagrees with President Trump's assertion that trans people serving in the military is a "disruption."

"To say that my service has been a 'disruption' is an outright lie. My Commanding Officer, immediate superiors and co-workers have all been fully supportive of me. I am one of the senior technicians within my division, responsible for training our new sailors and managing our day-to-day and week-to-week work list. I was, until just now, being groomed to lead one of our division's two watch teams for our upcoming deployment, beginning late next year. In that capacity, I serve a critical role in my work center.

Summarily discharging me from military service, for nothing more than petty bigotry and electoral politics, is the disruption. The GOP as a whole, and the Trump administration in particular, are degrading my unit and hundreds if not thousands of other units across the armed services by taking away valuable people. We, and the American people, deserve better than this."

Cisgender allies, activists, and experts are voicing their concerns, as well.

In an email, TransMilitary co-director and executive producer Fiona Dawson (who, in 2015, documented the story of two trans service members who fell in love) weighed in on the move, saying she hopes Trump will actually take the time to meet some of the trans personnel he deems unfit for service.

"Donald Trump's assertions against transgender service members are baseless. Science and ethics determine there is no rational reason why the thousands of transgender women and men who have been defending our country and fighting for our freedom for hundreds of years should not be permitted to continue doing so."

Former Secretary Carter offered his opinion on the reinstatement of the discriminatory policy as well, saying that it "has no place in our military."

Advocacy organizations and civil rights groups across the country are issuing press releases, denouncing the tweet on a number of grounds.

The Palm Center called this "a worse version of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'" and hit Trump over his claims of "tremendous costs."

"As we know from the sad history of that discredited policy, discrimination harms military readiness. This is a shocking and ignorant attack on our military and on transgender troops who have been serving honorably and effectively for the past year. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen stated yesterday, their service must be respected. The Rand Corporation has estimated that the cost of medical care for transgender troops is approximately one one-hundredth of one percent of the military annual health care budget, or at most, $8.4 million per year. To claim otherwise is to lie about the data."

Tyler Deaton of the American Unity Fund, a conservative LGBTQ organization, criticized Trump for going back on what he saw as LGBTQ-friendly campaign promises in a statement that is long but worth reading in its entirety:

"President Trump promised to protect the transgender community. As President, he said he was 'respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights' and would 'protect the community from violence and oppression.' But President Trump has broken his promise and, coupled with his administration's efforts to roll back protections for transgender students in our nation's public schools, he is developing an undeniable pattern of anti-gay and anti-transgender policy while in office. ... As conservatives and advocates for LGBTQ freedom, AUF calls on President Trump to reconsider his comments, and stand with all of our soldiers, including those who are transgender."

Former Justice Department official Vanita Gupta, currently president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, slammed Trump's move as "yet another broken promise to the American people."

"President Trump doesn't understand that our military is stronger when there are no discriminatory barriers to service. The civil and human rights community will continue to loudly and proudly stand up for the rights of all who are willing to protect the security of our country, including the thousands of transgender people currently serving in our military."

And of course, there was pushback from a number of Democratic and Republican politicians alike.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) commented on the sad irony of Trump's decision to increase discrimination on the 69th anniversary of President Truman's order to desegregate the military.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) announced plans to introduce legislation that would overrule Trump's decision.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) highlighted the number of trans people serving in the military.

Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), who has a transgender son, spoke out against it as well.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) offered to stand in solidarity with trans soldiers.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said "transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them."

And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called trans service members "patriots."

Trans people exist in the world and have every right to engage in the same activities and occupations as anybody else.

This is a big deal, and it's not just a distraction. Nobody should be discriminated against for who they are — not in the military, not in education, not in housing, not in employment, not in health care, not at all.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Health

Her mother doesn't get why she's depressed. So she explains the best way she knows how.

Sabrina Benaim eloquently describes what it's like to be depressed.

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother."

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother" is pretty powerful on its own.

But, in it, her mother exhibits some of the most common misconceptions about depression, and I'd like to point out three of them here.

Misconception #1: Depression is triggered by a single event or series of traumatic events.

empathy, human condition, humanity

Depression isn’t just over sleeping.

Most people think depression is triggered by a traumatic event: a loved one dying, a job loss, a national tragedy, some THING. The truth is that depression sometimes just appears out of nowhere. So when you think that a friend or loved one is just in an extended bad mood, reconsider. They could be suffering from depression.

Misconception #2: People with depression are only sad.

family, parents, mom, anxiety

The obligation of anxiety.

Most people who have never experienced depression think depression is just an overwhelming sadness. In reality, depression is a complex set of feelings and physical changes in the body. People who suffer from depression are sad, yes, but they can also be anxious, worried, apathetic, and tense, among other things.

Misconception #3: You can snap out of it.

button poetry, medical condition, biological factors

Making fun plans not wanting to have fun.

The thing with depression is that it's a medical condition that affects your brain chemistry. It has to do with environmental or biological factors first and foremost. Sabrina's mother seems to think that if her daughter would only go through the motions of being happy that then she would become happy. But that's not the case. Depression is a biological illness that leaks into your state of being.

Think of it this way: If you had a cold, could you just “snap out of it"?

No? Exactly.

empathy, misconceptions of depression, mental health

Mom doesn’t understand.

via Button Poetry/YouTube

These are only three of the misconceptions about depression. If you know somebody suffering from depression, you should take a look at this video here below to learn the best way to talk to them:

This article originally appeared on 11.24.15

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Pop Culture

A comic about wearing makeup goes from truthful to weird in 4 panels.

A hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

A comic shows the evolution or devolution from with makeup to without.

Even though I don't wear very much makeup, every few days or so SOMEONE...

(friends, family, internet strangers)

...will weigh in on why I "don't need makeup."


Now, I realize this is meant as a compliment, but this comic offers a hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

social norms, social pressure, friendship, self esteem

“Why do you wear so much makeup?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

passive aggressive, ego, confidence, beauty

“See, you look pretty without all that makeup on."

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

expectations, beauty products, mascara, lipstick

“Wow you look tired, are you sick?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

lizards, face-painting, hobbies, hilarious comic

When I shed my human skin...

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

Not everyone is able to turn into a badass lizard when someone asks about their face-painting hobbies. Don't you kinda wish you could? Just to drive this hilarious comic all the way home, here are four reasons why some women* wear makeup:

*Important side note: Anyone can wear makeup. Not just women. True story.

Four reasons some women* wear makeup:

1. Her cat-eye game is on point.

mascara, eyes, confidence

Her cat-eye game is on point.

Via makeupproject.

2. She has acne or acne scars.

acne, cover up, scarring, medical health

She has acne or acne scars.

Via Carly Humbert.

3. Pink lipstick.

lipstick, beauty products, basics, self-expression

Yes, pink lipstick.

Via Destiny Godley

4. She likes wearing makeup.

appearance, enhancement, creative expression

Happy to be going out and feeling good.

Happy Going Out GIF by Much.

While some people may think putting on makeup is a chore, it can be really fun! For some, makeup is an outlet for creativity and self-expression. For others, it's just a way to feel good about themselves and/or enhance their favorite features.

That's why it feels kinda icky when someone says something along the lines of "You don't need so much makeup!" Now, it's arguable that no one "needs" makeup, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look.

For some people, feeling good about their appearance includes wearing makeup. And that's totally OK.


This article originally appeared on 05.28.15

Joy

Adorable 'Haka baby' dance offers a sweet window into Maori culture

Stop what you're doing and let this awesomeness wash over you.

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.



The intensity of the haka is the point. It is meant to be a show of strength and elicit a strong response—which makes seeing a tiny toddler learning to do it all the more adorable.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Danny Heke, who goes by @focuswithdan on TikTok, shared a video of a baby learning haka and omigosh it is seriously the most adorable thing. When you see most haka, the dancers aren't smiling—their faces are fierce—so this wee one starting off with an infectious grin is just too much. You can see that he's already getting the moves down, facial expressions and all, though.

@focuswithdan When you grow up learning haka! #haka #teachthemyoung #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou #kapahaka ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

As cute as this video is, it's part of a larger effort by Heke to use his TikTok channel to share and promote Maori culture. His videos cover everything from the Te Reo Maori language to traditional practices to issues of prejudice Maori people face.

Here he briefly goes over the different body parts that make up haka:

@focuswithdan

♬ Ngati - Just2maori

This video explains the purerehua, or bullroarer, which is a Maori instrument that is sometimes used to call rains during a drought.

@focuswithdan Reply to @illumi.is.naughty Some tribes used this to call the rains during drought 🌧 ⛈ #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp ♬ Pūrerehua - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

This one shares a demonstration and explanation of the taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon.

@focuswithdan Reply to @shauncalvert Taiaha, one of the most formidable of the Māori Weaponry #taiaha #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

For another taste of haka, check out this video from a school graduation:

@focuswithdan When your little cuzzy graduates and her school honours her with a haka #maori #māori #haka #focuswithdan #fyp #graduation @its_keshamarley ♬ Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

Heke even has some fun with the trolls and racists in the comments who try to tell him his culture is dead (what?).

@focuswithdan Credit to you all my AMAZING FOLLOWERS! #focuswithdan #maori #māori #followers #fyp #trolls ♬ original sound - sounds for slomo_bro!

Unfortunately, it's not just ignorant commenters who spew racist bile. A radio interview clip that aired recently called Maori people "genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol, and underperformance," among other terrible things. (The host, a former mayor of Auckland, has been let go for going along with and contributing to the caller's racist narrative.)

@focuswithdan #newzealand radio in 2021 delivering racist commentaries 🤦🏽‍♂️ #māori #maori #focuswithdan #racism DC: @call.me.lettie2.0 ♬ original sound - luna the unicow

That clip highlights why what Heke is sharing is so important. The whole world is enriched when Indigenous people like the Maori have their voices heard and their culture celebrated. The more we learn from each other and our diverse ways of life, the more enjoyable life on Earth will be and the better we'll get at collaborating to confront the challenges we all share.


This article originally appeared on 01.28.21