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Janelle Monáe has a lot going on right now, with the release of a new record winning over fans and critics alike.

In January, the iconic singer delivered a powerhouse "Time's Up" speech at the Grammys. In April, she came out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone, released a video for her latest single "Pynk," and put out her album "Dirty Computer" towards the end of the month. And apparently, she's still got a few surprises in store, if her recent statements about the symbolism in "Pynk" are any indication.

As many have noticed, one of the outfits Monáe and her backup dancers wear in the "Pynk" video has a certain Georgia O'Keeffe quality to it. "Sometimes I think people interpret those as vagina pants, they call them vulva pants, they call them flowers, but it just represents some parts of some women," Monáe recently told People magazine.


All GIFs from Janelle Monae/YouTube.

As viewers of the video might notice, not all of the dancers are wearing pants — and there's a reason for this.

"There are some women in the video that do not have on the pants, because I don’t believe that all women need to possess a vagina to be a woman," she told People:

"I have one, I'm proud of it, but there's a lot of policing and controlling that people are trying to have over our vaginas and when you think about female genital mutilation, when you think about all these women's issues, I wanted to make sure we were discussing these issues but we were also celebrating each other. I wanted 'Pynk' to be a celebration of women who are unique, distinct, different, maybe different from one another, but when they come together they create something magical and special."

In other words, Monáe believes transgender women are women, and that's really awesome and very cool.

Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.

Like she said, "there's a lot of policing and controlling" when it comes to bodies.

We live in a world where politicians are constantly trying to dictate what people should do with their own bodies, their own uteruses. We live in a world where politicians feel entitled to our medical history before we're allowed to use the bathroom. We live in a world where the powerful try to impose their belief systems on the rest of us, working to strip away legitimacy and, at times, our very humanity.

That's why it's important to celebrate our differences. As a trans woman, I see my identity and legitimacy questioned on a near-daily basis.

Whether it's politicians using fear-mongering around trans people to win votes, people who use their religious views as a shield for bigotry, or even some self-proclaimed feminists (most feminists are perfectly cool with trans people, but some aren't) who spend their days trying to fight progress for trans people, I see it all — and it's exhausting, frankly.

Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards, and Janelle Monáe at the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

"Are trans women women?" is one of those questions that tells you a lot about the person answering it.

Let's get one thing clear: There's a difference between asking whether trans women count as women (a different subset of women than cisgender/non-trans women, but women, nonetheless) and asking whether trans women are the exact same as cis women — to which the answer is clearly no — and you'd be hard-pressed to find a trans woman who'd argue that we are or that we have the same exact experiences as cis women, as we obviously don't.

Even feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wasn't very open-minded on this front. She hurt a lot of people in 2017 when she responded to this question about trans people, "So when people talk about, you know, 'Are trans women women?' my feeling is trans women are trans women," suggesting that trans women are an entirely different group outside the label of "women."

David Remnick interviews Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at The 2017 New Yorker Festival. Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker.

For more information on the debates over whether or not trans women are "real" women, check out trans scholar Julia Serano's excellent essay on the subject.

But Adichie managed to encapsulate many of those conflicts in that single frustrating, disheartening answer. That's because she conflated the question of whether trans women are women with the question of whether trans women are cis women. "Trans" is an adjective that modifies the noun, "women" — therefore, trans women are women. It's a bit of a letdown when a feminist icon like Adichie splits hairs over who counts as a woman.

Adichie elaborated on her position after backlash, writing, "Of course trans women are part of feminism," but the point seemed to be a bit lost on her.

Personally, seeing her remarks and those of people who agreed with her, I just... I just felt like some sort of freak, a subhuman forced into an odd third gender category that doesn't accurately state who I am.

For an artist like Monáe to send a message affirming that trans women are real and legitimate really does mean a lot to me, and many others.

As people, we're a lot more than just our genitals — and really, unless you're romantically involved with someone, or you're that person's doctor, it's hard to understand why those body parts are any of your business.

No two women share identical experiences in life, cis or trans. The best we can do is to try to have empathy for one another, to help one another, to listen, and to learn from one another.

I am extremely grateful that Monáe used her platform to fight back against the policing of bodies and genders. Whether or not we all have the same parts, we're still part of the same club. Thanks for fighting back against the policing of bodies and gender, and ripping up the rulebook on who gets to join, Janelle Monáe.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

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.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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