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How it feels to navigate a gym locker room when you're transgender.

People like me don't often feel welcomed. Let's change that.

How it feels to navigate a gym locker room when you're transgender.

Here's the thing about locker rooms: I avoid them whenever humanly possible.

I go out of my way to steer clear, heading into the gym wearing exactly what I plan to work out in and carrying nothing else with me. This means that, yes, there are days where the temperature is in the 20s or 30s, and I'll venture out without my coat as a way to avoid locker rooms.

On days where I absolutely have to use them, I do whatever I can to get in and out of the locker room as quickly and quietly as I can.


Here are my four stages of locker room interaction:

1. Two steps into the room, there's a coat hook. That's my go-to.

2. Immediately to the left is a row of (usually) empty lockers. That's my reluctant second.

3. If that row is full, I carry my belongings with me as I work out.

4. If that's too cumbersome, I just go home without working out.

This is my gym. As you can see, I do my best to go when I think the fewest people will be here.

It sounds bizarre, right? But ... one thing you may or may not know about me is that I'm transgender.

I'm pretty open about it, but it's not as though I wear a sign around my neck informing the general public — the vast majority of the time, strangers don't know. My life just is what it is: pretty boring.

But yes, being transgender is part of why I avoid locker rooms.

Here's me after a workout.

I've never put on or taken off an article of clothing in my gym's locker room nor do I plan on it anytime soon.

And I've never actually seen anybody else in there at the same time as me. But, I can't help it — during those few seconds I plan out so carefully, my anxiety rules over me — because I'm afraid.

Fully clothed, just two steps inside the door, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid of anybody else stepping through that door.

I'm afraid of being yelled at.

I'm afraid of being asked whether I'm in the wrong room.

I'm afraid I'll be physically harmed.

Now, it's not as though those thoughts are especially logical, but I guess it doesn't matter. Anxiety and fear don't follow rules of logic.

I know for certain that many other trans people have similar feelings about bathrooms and locker rooms. I have friends who've cancelled gym memberships out of fear. I have friends who avoid joining gyms out of fear. I have friends who simply live their lives in fear. If you're not transgender, these thoughts probably haven't occurred to you.

But for so many of us, these thoughts and fears can be all-consuming.

Sadly, trans women being attacked in public restrooms and locker rooms is a reality in our world.

People set on fighting against trans rights have made regulating bathroom access a concerning focal point of their agenda.

I've watched as city councils have debated the validity of my gender, and I've watched as cities have moved to ban people like me from locker rooms using the argument that it'd be letting "men" into women's locker rooms. The reality is that non-discrimination laws don't allow for men to enter women's locker rooms anyway. And in any case, I am not a man.

But the strategy of trying to legislate who can use which bathroom is based on misinformation about exactly who is helped by these types of ordinances and what they allow for.

For example, unlike what Mike Huckabee thinks, anti-discrimination laws allowing trans people to use bathrooms that match their gender identities would not have allowed him, a cisgender man, to enter the girls' locker room when he was in high school just for fun:


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talks about how he would have tried to abuse these laws during his teen years.

One tactic anti-trans groups use to try to roll back or block non-discrimination ordinances is sending cisgender men into women's locker rooms.

Cisgender men are men whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth. This happened just a couple weeks back, actually, when a cisgender man walked into a women's locker room, took off his shirt, and stood there until somebody complained. After being kicked out, he returned hours later, again invading the locker room while young girls were changing for swim practice.

The groups behind these anti-trans efforts are pretty open about encouraging these tactics. They terrorize women and children as a way to show their supposed concern for those same people.

It's sick, but it has absolutely nothing to do with people like me.

Trans people aren't going into locker rooms, walking around naked, and leering at others. Sick men who want to "prove a point" are. They're trying to trick you into being scared of trans people. Please don't fall for it.

Deal with them, don't let them win, and don't take it out on us.

Right now, I'm afraid, but I have hope for the future.

There's currently a bit of anti-LGBTQ backlash going on in the wake of last year's marriage equality wins (and trans people are just the easiest target to take that out on, sadly), but I've seen the public fear of gay and lesbian people shift a lot just in the past few years, and I have hope that those feelings toward trans people will pass soon too.

I have hope for a more tolerant and accepting world where people don't need to feel afraid when doing something as simple as using the bathroom or changing in a locker room. I have hope that we're all going to be OK.

True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

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True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.