Jill Soloway's Emmy speech put the trans rights 'tipping point' into perspective.

Turn on your TV, and it's clear: Transgender issues are having a moment in our pop-culture conscious.

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for GLAAD.


"Orange Is the New Black." "Becoming Us." "I Am Cait." "I Am Jazz."

Several TV series are telling stories of transgender people and characters in thoughtful ways that didn't seem feasible even a few years ago. And these series aren't just reaching niche audiences — they're being recognized at award shows and receiving critical accolades.

During the 2015 Emmys on Sept. 20, Amazon's series "Transparent" took home (not one, not two, but) three statues.

Jill Soloway won Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Jeffrey Tambor was named Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, and Bradley Whitford won for Guest Actor in a Comedy, all for their work on "Transparent." The critically acclaimed, buzzed-about series by Amazon follows Tambor's character, "Maura," who comes out as trans to her grown-up children.

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Amazon Studios.

Although the show has received valid criticism for casting Tambor, who is cisgender, in the lead role instead of giving the opportunity to a trans actor, many advocates have credited the show for setting "a new precedent for transgender storytelling."

The show's Emmy wins highlight progress all on their own, but it was Soloway pointing to a sobering reality facing her own transgender parent that truly put the state of transgender rights into perspective.

Because while transgender narratives and story creators are being hailed as winners on stage, transgender people are still being treated like second-class citizens elsewhere, including in Hollywood, where many trans roles are going, as previously mentioned, to cisgender actors.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

“Something interesting about my moppa — she could, tomorrow, go and try to find an apartment, and in 32 states it would be legal for the landlord to say, 'We don't rent to trans people.' We don't have a trans tipping point yet; we have a trans civil rights problem." — Jill Soloway

Soloway's "tipping point" remark could be in reference to Laverne Cox's historic Time magazine cover from last year, which deemed the movement as such. But, judging from the state of trans rights, that tipping point hasn't tipped quite yet.

For all the progress we've seen on trans visibility in Hollywood, it's still legal to discriminate against transgender people in most U.S. states when it comes to things like housing and employment.

And research suggests special protections are certainly needed. A 2011 Williams Institute review of comprehensive LGBT studies found more than three-fourths of transgender people reported being harassed or mistreated at work due to their gender identity.

Photo by Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images.

It's wonderful that Hollywood is being more inclusive of trans people and their stories. But the real world needs to follow suit.

That's why, in her speech, Soloway also made sure to note viewers could support progress by visiting the National Center for Transgender Equality, and help pass the Equality Act — a "clear and comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination law" that would promote equal treatment under the law for all sexual orientations and gender identities at the federal level.

Emmy awards are great, but laws that protect people for being who they are in their communities are even better.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture