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This video for a brilliantly designed transgender toy hit me right in the feels.

An ad for a new toy sure knows how to tug at those heartstrings.

This video for a brilliantly designed transgender toy hit me right in the feels.

It's not usually a great sign if you're crying at the end of a toy commercial, but in the case of Sam, that might actually be the entire point.

First, let me back up and tell you a story. I have a set of nesting dolls I keep on my desk, a gift from a friend back when I first came out as transgender. The doll's nesting layers came to represent who I was, who I am, and who I will be, all contained in one body.

So what does this have to do with a toy commercial?


Earlier this week, I saw "Sam's Story," an animated short by Gender Creative Kids Canada about a transgender boy coming to terms with who he is. The video ends with a call for people to visit The You Inside Project to back a Kickstarter aiming to create what the group is calling "the world's first educational transgender toy."

It just so happens that "Sam" is a nesting doll set — just like mine.

Sam's Story

Meet Sam, the inspiration behind the world's first educational transgender toy. Watch Sam's Story then support our mission to stop transphobia before it starts by pledging on our Kickstarter: http://theyouinsideproject.com

Posted by Enfants transgenres Canada/ Gender Creative Kids Canada on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When I first watched the video, I was floored to see such a familiar scenario play out.

I broke down in tears about three-quarters of the way through the video, seeing a powerful connection to my own experience. And when the toy's prototype appeared on the screen, I completely lost it.

While the outside may change, the heart represents what really matters: the you inside. GIF from Gender Creative Kids Canada/Facebook.

The reason the dolls have played such an important, lasting role is my life is that they serve as a reminder that while the outer layer may change over time, at my core, I'm still me. I can only imagine what it would have been like if I'd had a toy like Sam growing up. Perhaps I would have understood myself a bit sooner, and perhaps I wouldn't have spent so much time feeling so broken.

A toy like Sam is obviously important for trans kids, but GCKC thinks that even cisgender (non-trans) children and parents will learn a lot from Sam as well.

Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, vice president of Gender Creative Kids Canada, explains that the toy may help other children better understand what a trans classmate may be going through and help start a conversation about gender identity in a way that's accessible to younger children. Most of all, the project hopes to be a fun way to discuss a topic that we don't often talk about.

"Whether the child is transgender, gender diverse, or not, everyone has a gender identity, and Sam can help them discuss it and understand that what matters, is the you inside," explains Sansfaçon in an email. "It can also help adults surrounding a transgender or a gender-diverse child  to open up and discuss gender identity in a playful manner.  It can also be used to discuss gender stereotypes with everyone."

This sweet story has a happy ending. GIF from Gender Creative Kids Canada/Facebook.

This toy, and the message it represents, is sure to help kids who are growing up feeling the way I did.

I know it because I lived it.

And here I am again, crying those happy tears, knowing that the world can be a better and more understanding place.

Thank you, Sam. GIF from Gender Creative Kids Canada/Facebook.

Learn more about Gender Creative Kids Canada at the group's website, about the toy's design in this interview with Applied Arts magazine and about how you can help make the toy a reality (they need our help!) at theyouinsideproject.com.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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