The World Health Organization recently announced a big change to its International Classification of Diseases database, and that's good news for trans people.

The ICD is a centuries-old catalog tracking pretty much every medical condition you could possibly think of. With the release of its 11th edition, the WHO moved gender incongruence — the diagnostic term applied to trans people — from the catalog's mental health section to its new home under sexual health conditions.

In a video explaining the decision to reclassify the condition, Dr. Lale Say, the coordinator of the WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, explains that recent discoveries helped inform the action.


GIF from World Health Organization/YouTube.

"It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had [a] better understanding that this wasn't actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma," she said. "So in order to reduce the stigma while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, this was placed into a different chapter."

The WHO's official press release states that "evidence is now clear that it is not a mental disorder." In other words, there are specific medical needs associated with being transgender, so it didn't make sense to eliminate the diagnosis from the ICD completely. Exclusion from the ICD altogether could have resulted in trans people not being able to access things like hormone therapies and other transition-related care.

WHO's move echoes that of other medical organizations that have come out in support of trans people in recent years.

As WHO's release says, it is clear that being trans is not a mental disorder. Still, there's a strong misconception that persists. In 2014, the American Psychiatric Association updated its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classification for trans people. What was once called "gender identity disorder" was updated to "gender dysphoria." Why the change? It's actually pretty similar to WHO's rationale:

"DSM-5 aims to avoid stigma and ensure clinical care for individuals who see and feel themselves to be a different gender than their assigned gender. It replaces the diagnostic name 'gender identity disorder' with 'gender dysphoria,' as well as makes other important clarifications in the criteria. It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition."

In 2014, the American Medical Association issued a resolution urging states to allow trans people to update identifying documents like birth certificates. The following year, they stated that there is "no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals" from the military (a call they renewed in light of President Trump's trans military ban). In 2016, they called on insurance companies to cover transition-related health care as they would any other medically necessary treatment. In 2017, the AMA came out against the use of so-called bathroom bills meant to prevent trans people from "accessing basic human services and public facilities in line with one’s gender identity, including, but not limited to, the use of restrooms."

Groups like the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Family Physicians, the National Association of Social Workers (whose position is gender dysphoria should be removed from the DSM entirely), the American Public Health Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health have all come out in favor providing affirming care for trans people.

The logo of the World Health Organization outside its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.

The idea that trans people simply have a "mental disorder" is misleading and inaccurate.

Mental health is a fraught topic in the U.S., and the stigma surrounding it leads to some unfortunate misconceptions. Some may see the words "mental health" and conclude that whatever the problem is, it's all in a person's head and doesn't stem from a physical or biological origin. Of course, that's not the case. The same is true of being transgender.

People hold gay pride (forefront) and trans pride (background) flags during a pride parade in Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo by Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images.

The data is there to prove it. In 2014, writer Brynn Tannehill published an article defending the biological origins of gender dysphoria. Tannehill was writing in response to an article published by Fox News in which the author argued that transgender people simply didn't exist. Tannehill's rebuttal was jam-packed with data — citing 15 different studies supporting the idea that there is a biological basis to being transgender.

The science clearly favors one side: the side that believes trans people are who they say they are, the side that believes trans people should have access to medical care and legal protections against discrimination.

You may be asking yourself what this means for your everyday life. The answer: probably nothing, especially if you're not trans.

Being trans means having your existence and your identity constantly put up for debate. As someone who is trans, I know this well. It's exhausting, and too often, people will try to dispute my own existence (or the validity of it, at least) by citing "science." The truth is that it's just recently that "science" is coming to strong conclusions about trans people — and these new findings dispute the anti-trans arguments.

7-year-old transgender boy Jacob Lemay at his house in Melrose, Massachusetts, in 2017. At this age, there is no medical component to his transition, just social. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

For decades, much of what we knew about gender dysphoria and its origins was based solely on a handful of imperfect studies put out by just a handful of imperfect researchers. Many of their dated, harmful, and highly disputed findings foster stigma that still exists today. The importance of groups like the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association taking affirmative stands in support of trans people is that it reflects a better understanding of who trans people are and the evolving science around the issue.

We exist. It's science.

Watch this short video from the WHO explaining this update to the ICD.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

@elenisabracos on TikTok

Look, it’s a sad situation for anyone to hear that Adele will not be gracing the stage any time soon. The beloved singer woefully announced on Instagram last Friday (Jan 21) that her planned residency in Las Vegas “wasn’t ready” due to coronavirus. Half of her crew had been infected, making it “impossible to finish the show.”

But for one fan in particular, who has tried—and failed miserably—to catch Adele live on three separate occasions, the news hit particularly hard. Luckily, her sense of humor proves that any tragedy can turn into comedy gold.

This story, with all its hilarious twists and turns, is quite the delightful saga. And though it doesn’t erase all the gutting disappointments left from pandemic cancellations, it does serve as wholesome entertainment.

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This article originally appeared on August 14, 2016


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






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