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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Identity

My wife surprised her coworkers when she came out as trans. Then they surprised her.

She was ready for one reaction but was greeted with a beautiful response.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Zoe comes out to her coworkers.


Society, pay attention. This is important.

My wife, Zoe, is transgender. She came out to us — the kids and me — last summer and then slowly spread her beautiful feminine wings with extended family, friends, and neighbors.

A little coming out here, a little coming out there — you know how it is.


It's been a slow, often challenging process of telling people something so personal and scary, but pretty much everyone has been amazing.

However, she dreaded coming out at the office.

She works at a large technology company, managing a team of software developers in a predominantly male office environment. She's known many of her co-workers and employees for 15 or so years. They have called her "he" and "him" and "Mr." for a very long time. How would they handle the change?

While we have laws in place in Ontario, Canada, to protect the rights of transgender employees, it does not shield them from awkwardness, quiet judgment, or loss of workplace friendships. Your workplace may not become outright hostile, but it can sometimes become a difficult place to go to every day because people only tolerate you rather than fully accept you.

But this transition needed to happen, and so Zoe carefully crafted a coming out email and sent it to everyone she works with.

The support was immediately apparent; she received about 75 incredibly kind responses from coworkers, both local and international.

She then took one week off, followed by a week where she worked solely from home. It was only last Monday when she finally went back to the office.

First day back at work! I asked if I could take a "first day of school" type picture with her lunchbox. She said no. Spoilsport.

Despite knowing how nice her colleagues are and having read so many positive responses to her email, she was understandably still nervous.

Hell, I was nervous. I made her promise to text me 80 billion times with updates and was more than prepared to go down there with my advocacy pants on if I needed to (I might be a tad overprotective).

And that's when her office pals decided to show the rest of us how to do it right.

She got in and found that a couple of them had decorated her cubicle to surprise her:

LGBTQ, coming out, work

Her cubicle decorated with butterflies.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Butterflies! Streamers! Rainbows! OMG!

And made sure her new name was prominently displayed in a few locations:

empathy, employment, understanding

Zoe written on the board.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

They got her a beautiful lily with a "Welcome, Zoe!" card:

coworkers, mental health, community

Welcome lily and card

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

And this tearjerker quote was waiting for her on her desk:

Oscar Wilde, job, employment

A quote from Oscar Wilde.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

To top it all off, a 10 a.m. "meeting" she was scheduled to attend was actually a coming out party to welcome her back to work as her true self — complete with coffee and cupcakes and handshakes and hugs.

acceptance, friendship, relationships

Coming out party with cupcakes.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

(I stole one, and it was delicious.)

NO, I'M NOT CRYING. YOU'RE CRYING.

I did go to my wife's office that day. But instead of having my advocacy pants on, I had my hugging arms ready and some mascara in my purse in case I cried it off while thanking everyone.

I wish we lived in a world where it was no big deal to come out.

Sadly, that is not the case for many LGBTQ people. We live in a world of bathroom bills and "religious freedom" laws that directly target the members of our community. We live in a world where my family gets threats for daring to speak out for trans rights. We live in a world where we can't travel to certain locations for fear of discrimination — or worse.

So when I see good stuff happening — especially when it takes place right on our doorstep — I'm going to share it far and wide. Let's normalize this stuff. Let's make celebrating diversity our everyday thing rather than hating or fearing it.

Chill out, haters. Take a load off with us.

It's a lot of energy to judge people, you know. It's way more fun to celebrate and support them for who they are.

Besides, we have cupcakes.


This article originally appeared on 04.08.16.

If a blood donation organization asks for more donations from black people, does that make them racist?

[rebelmouse-image 19474546 dam="1" original_size="500x399" caption="GIF from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."" expand=1]GIF from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

No, no it does not. But it's an argument the folks at NHS' Give Blood in the U.K. have heard one too many times.


In a hilarious, GIF-ridden, informative tweet thread that's since gone viral, Give Blood addressed the often-asked question.

"Do black people have 'special' blood? Are we being racist?" the center asked. "Let's break it down."

First things first: While blood basically operates the same in every body, that doesn't mean it is the same in every body.

"Everyone's blood IS NOT the same," they tweeted. "So you can stop calling us racist."

In fact, there are more than 30 different types of blood.

Blood can also be positive or negative.

And O-negative blood is super special because anyone can use it.

Second, depending on a person's race or ethnicity, they're more or less likely to have certain types of blood.

Here's where all of that starts coming together.

There's a "rare subgroup" of blood that is 10 times more likely to be found in black donors than white donors.

Sickle cell anemia, a genetic condition far more common in black people, is really serious stuff.

Red blood cells are supposed to be round and flexible. But in sickle cell patients, those cells become rigid and sticky. This can block or slow the flow of oxygen to various parts of the body, as the Mayo Clinic explained.

Many people with the condition rely on blood transfusions to stay healthy. But if their blood transfusions aren't good matches, the body can build up a resistance to those transfusions, Give Blood noted in its thread.

Thus, many blood centers aren't being racist when they ask for more black blood donors — they're really just in need of more Ro blood donors.

"Why, you may ask, don't we just say we need Ro blood then?"

Most people don't know they have Ro blood until they come in to donate.

Most potential donors have no idea if they have Ro blood. But they likely do know what race or ethnicity they are.

Yes, blood centers need more donors of all races and ethnicities. But it makes perfect sense that some centers — particularly in the U.K., where just 1% of donors are black — would try to solicit certain donors.

So, what are you waiting for?

It's ridiculously easy to find a blood donation center near you. (Psst, it'll usually come with a free snack too.)

Help save a life and get some free food? A total win/win.

This article was originally published on November 9, 2017.

Wiseguise Pizza didn't really want to be embroiled in the middle of a heated social debate. But, when it happened anyway, the pizza shop more than rose to the occasion, with a great sense of humor to boot.

After a polarizing political message appeared on a billboard adjacent to the restaurant in Mowbray, Tasmania, in Australia, the pizza shop could no longer ignore the elephant in the room — or, more specifically, the bigotry on the nearby street sign.


"IT'S OK TO SAY 'NO,'" read the billboard — a message encouraging Australians to vote against marriage equality, promoted by lobbyist group Coalition for Marriage.

Wiseguise Pizza couldn't let that stand — so they decided to have a little fun with it.

On Sept. 21, 2017, Fred Hooper of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation captured workers painting a response from the pizza shop on the white wall adjacent to the billboard.

Their message? It was simple, really.

"IT'S OK TO SAY 'NO,' ... TO PINEAPPLE ON PIZZA!" the updated message read, in a photo also snapped by Hooper.

"It's a huge debate at the moment, obviously," Wiseguise employee Ben Barwick told ABC, before quipping, "Everyone's talking about whether pineapple should be on pizza or not."

The store's managing director Alex Jones (no, not that Alex Jones) told ABC that Wiseguise wasn't explicitly taking a stance on the issue of marriage equality through its lighthearted commentary. But the far-reaching, lasting affect of the restaurant's actions shows just how heated the debate over same-sex marriage remains around the world; although the story unfolded last month, the photo landed a coveted front page spot on Reddit on Oct. 25.

It's no wonder the story's making waves. A critical vote is underway right now in Australia — and the outcome, which could legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, is far from certain.

A mail-in survey asking voters if the law should change so same-sex partners can marry has been open since Sept. 12 and will close on Nov. 7. Although the tally won't formally legalize same-sex marriage if "yes" votes win out, it will lead to a parliamentary debate and vote on the issue, which would likely (although not inevitably) end in favor of LGBTQ rights.

LGBTQ rights advocates have cause for concern. While public polling has consistently showed Australians are in favor of same-sex marriage, recent indicators show a tight race unfolding.

Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images.

Proponents of same-sex marriage aren't worried about a surge in "no" voters, necessarily; they're far more worried about the prospect of the lazy "yes" voters: Australians (particularly younger Australians) who haven't mailed in their vote yet. Overconfidence in a "yes" victory could spell disaster.

“There is no room for complacency and no reason to think someone else's vote will win this," Equality Campaign Director Tiernan Brady explained to News.com.au. "We know there's an awful lot of young people that have either not voted yet or filled it in and not delivered it to the post box."

Young Aussies, say "no" to pineapple pizza and go vote "yes" for marriage equality. Too much is at stake to leave this one up to chance.

Instagram / Sia Music

Warning: one NSFW photo below.

She's far from the first celebrity to have nude photos leaked online, but Sia's response is certainly unique — and kind of awesome.

On Nov. 6, the pop singer tweeted out a blurred photo of her naked backside with a message: "Someone is apparently trying to sell naked photos of me to my fans. Save your money, here it is for free. Everyday is Christmas!"

It was a brilliant tweet, at once diminishing the photo's value (hard to make money on something that's been sent out for free to 3.2 million people on Twitter) and embracing herself for who she is.


You could even say that she turned the photographer into the butt of the joke.

When it comes to what people feel entitled to from celebrities, society's expectations need a revamp in a big way.

A person — a fan, even — might enjoy the music, acting, or art created by a celebrity. That doesn't mean they're entitled to nude photos or other breaches of personal privacy. Sia, for all her fame and success, is a person just like the rest of us. Just because she's not ashamed of her body (which is a good thing, obviously), that doesn't mean any of us are entitled to see it — especially without her consent.

While this sort of blackmail is never OK, it seems especially cruel to target her like this given her very publicly stated feelings about the concept of fame: "If anyone besides famous people knew what it was like to be a famous person, they would never want to be famous," she wrote in her 2013 "Anti-Fame Manifesto," making a point of obscuring her face during her public performances ever since.

So just be cool. Treat celebrities like people. Is that really so hard?

This article was originally published on November 7, 2017.