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How to criticize Caitlyn Jenner fairly — and oh, there's a lot to criticize.

A simple tip for tough discussions and disagreements.

How to criticize Caitlyn Jenner fairly — and oh, there's a lot to criticize.

Caitlyn Jenner has history of giving troubling sound bites.

In the wake of a shooting attack on Republican members of Congress, Jenner "joked" that "liberals can't even shoot straight." She once told BuzzFeed that, "the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear." During the 2016 election she said she wanted to be the "trans ambassador" for vehemently anti-LGBTQ politician Ted Cruz.

Take into account her public transition and her connection to the Kardashian family, there's no shortage of people ready and eager to call her out for comments like those.


I'm no fan of her, either. Trust me. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Though we can't know for sure Jenner's intent, her status as a public figure and her habit of saying offensive, inappropriate, and ill-informed things makes life for trans people like me that much harder. She wants to speak for my demographic, and yet, when she opens her mouth, she often says things I vehemently disagree with.

It's embarrassing. It's exhausting.

Also exhausting, however, is the reaction I see play out every time Jenner says something problematic.

For every on-point criticism of whatever it is Jenner said, there are waves of people who respond with transphobic comments and "jokes" that misgender her and refer to her by her old name.

It certainly seems as though many people feel that Jenner saying or doing something awful gives them the green light to let out some general anti-trans feelings on the world — even if by accident.

While those sorts of comments may be directed at her, they send a really unfortunate message to all trans people, implying that being called the correct name and pronoun is a privilege to be "earned" and that can later be revoked in the case of bad behavior.

Those types of comments suggest that the person making them is merely humoring trans people when using our correct pronouns and names instead of taking us at our word when it comes to who we are.

The bottom line is this: Calling Caitlyn Jenner a "man" or using her old name doesn't really address what makes her so objectionable.

There's a name for this kind of bad argument.

It's called "ad hominem," and it's basically when someone comes to an argument to insult someone's character or body as opposed to their ideas. It's a pretty weak way to make a point, and honestly, it often affects more than the intended target.

Calling her a "man" sends a pretty rough message to other trans people. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

So how can you criticize Caitlyn Jenner without being transphobic? Simple: Avoid ad hominem.

After Jenner's comments about the congressional shooting began circulating, here's an exchange I saw take place on Twitter:

One person posted a link to the recent story about her "liberals can't even shoot straight" comments. Out of nowhere, people replied to that tweet calling her a man, saying things about how her "real name" was "Bruce," and lots of stuff that had nothing to do with the stupid thing that she actually said.

A better way to respond would be to criticize her comments as being offensive or inappropriate in the wake of the tragedy she was talking about.

What if you just won't be satisfied unless you can crack a joke? LGBTQ activist Dan Savage pretty much nailed it with his response to her comments: "The liberal black lesbian married cop who took out the shooter got the job done."

Boom. Critical. Funny. Most importantly, not-transphobic.

There's nothing wrong with criticizing Caitlyn Jenner — whether the person doing the criticizing is trans or not.

Just because ad hominem attacks aren't OK doesn't mean Jenner gets some sort of "free pass" to say troubling things unchecked. It doesn't mean she shouldn't be held accountable for her words or that she shouldn't be criticized for her views or politics.

If people feel the need to criticize her for her political views, her charmed reality TV life, or her actions, they absolutely should do that. Believe me, there is plenty there to address.

There's just no need to bring transphobia into it.

Clarification 6/20/2017: A previous version of this post stated Jenner means well with her comments; it was updated to reflect that we don't know her intent.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.