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The United Kingdom is one of the United States' closest allies.

(Soldiers running on a beach. Like you do).


And for the most part, our militaries are pretty similar.

But there's one big difference.

The United Kingdom allows trans men and women to serve openly in its armed forces. And despite the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the United States still does not.

Indeed, there is an enormous gap between being a trans soldier, sailor, or airman in a military that welcomes you with open arms and one that pretends you don't exist.

Ayla, the British Royal Air Force pilot featured in the documentary above, is allowed to serve openly as a trans woman. Which allows her to do her job better.

"When you have a diverse group where diversity is not just tolerated, but it's included and encouraged, that group — that organization — is more productive. It's just a nice place to work. It works better. Significantly better."
— Ayla, RAF pilot

Meanwhile, her American counterpart in the documentary can't even show her face or identify herself by name for fear that she'll be discharged.

"We work just as hard and we're just as good as anyone else. Just because we have a different view of ourselves doesn't mean we can't do the job. I think what it comes down to is they think we can't perform as well when, in fact, we perform just as well, if not better."
— Soldier, U.S. Army

Indeed. All the +1s, in fact.

Fiona Dawson is the filmmaker behind "TransMilitary," and the woman who interviewed both subjects.

I spoke to her via email about the process of collecting these stories, and what the future might hold for the American soldier who volunteered to speak out.

1. What inspired you to make the documentary?

I was inspired by the opportunity to tell untold stories that would make a significant impact on making the world a better place. As a bisexual woman who volunteered many hours advocating for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," I myself was shocked to learn that transgender people are still banned from serving in the U.S. Yet they can serve in 18 countries worldwide, including in the UK since 1999. [Ed. Note: In the video above, Fiona did say 13 countries, but 18 is actually the correct number.] I have a number of trans friends, and I wanted to direct my career into presenting and producing visual media that promotes human equality, so starting a project sharing the personal stories of awesome transgender service members seemed like the right thing to do.

Through working on this project, I'm inspired by how transgender service members overcome with an incredible show of strength the huge challenges imposed upon them by the military and society. I'm inspired by the lesbian trans woman I know who continues to serve despite being told she is not welcome at command social functions. When asked why, it's because she loves her job and she loves her country. What could be more "American" than that?

The goal is to give the largest, loudest platform for transgender people to be heard, so when people come to know that our similarities far outweigh our differences we will create a society with true equality. I believe that when Americans see how kick-ass transgender service members are, they will realize that they're equally kick-ass in civil society too.

2. Are you still in touch with your subjects? How have their careers evolved since the film was made?

Yes, absolutely I'm still in touch with the people I first got to know, and I have built relationships with many more over the past couple of years. There are 15,500 American transgender service members, many of whom are connected through a private group, SPARTA. I am fortunate to be connected with many SPARTANS who have trusted me to help share their stories. It's a privilege and a pleasure. At this point my "subjects" are my family. We chat every day throughout the day, and I get to hear every twist and turn in their experience of serving in the military: doing the job they love to the highest standard whilst risking discharge simply for not identifying with the gender associated with their sex assigned at birth (SAAB). In my mind this is gender discrimination.

The female in this video is still actively serving, but her situation is not secure by any means. Every day we're wondering, "Is she going to be next?" But then there are many people living circumstances like hers. The irony is that the estimate of 15,500 people makes America's military the largest employer of transgender people. A government organization whose outdated medical policies ban transgender service employs more such people than any other known entity.

It's hard to fathom that those who protect the home of the brave and the land of the free are not given the same respect and opportunity in life that they so fiercely defend.

3. What can people who want to end the exclusion of trans men and women from the U.S. military do to get involved?

People can help get to know trans service members and share their stories. It's a fact that media changes attitudes toward people. Open transgender service will happen when the Department of Defense updates its policies, but they need to have the political will to do it and the powers that be need to know their transgender service members.

We can't bring 15,500 people to the Pentagon, but we can bring a handful — who are courageously willing to risk their careers — to our media screens.

(This interview has been condensed for clarity).

In order to help end the ban on transgender soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving openly, please consider getting involved with the Transgender American Veterans Association.

Fiona and her partners are also looking for funding to complete their documentary project, which you can support here.

V, a friend of the American Soldier interviewed in the film, puts it best.


"She has chosen a career path to serve our country and support our country, and it would be awesome if our country would in turn support her."
— V
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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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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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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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