There's 1 big difference between the American and British militaries.

I had no idea.

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
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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