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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.

[rebelmouse-image 19528984 dam="1" original_size="750x549" caption="Calling her a "man" sends a pretty rough message to other trans people. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images." expand=1]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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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