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Watch a trans man explain why Starbucks' new health care plan means so much to him.

Starbucks has a pretty solid track record with the LGBTQ community, and its latest announcement shows why.

Since 2012, the coffee chain has included certain transition-related medical treatments for trans employees in its health insurance packages. And at the end of June 2018, it announced an expansion of that plan.

The policy previously listed certain transition-related procedures — such as laser hair removal, facial feminization surgeries, breast reductions or augmentations, and hair transplants — as cosmetic and therefore not covered by insurance. The new employee health care package will cover those, and that's a pretty huge deal for their trans workers.


Starbucks flies a Pride flag above its corporate headquarters in Seattle. Photo via Starbucks Newsroom.

How exactly did Starbucks come to these decisions? It's simple, really: It asked experts for help.

The company reached out to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the go-to source for trans-related standards of care, to better understand trans people and their health needs. According to the company's press release, they are the first group to work directly with WPATH on shaping corporate policy. Not everybody understands trans issues or trans health and might be inclined to lump those types of transition-related procedures in with "cosmetic" exclusions. That's why it's so important that Starbucks took the extra step to consult experts.

Tate Buhrmester, a Starbucks employee of 15 years and the manager of one of its Austin, Texas, stores, is a living example of what happens when you provide people with access to care they need.

"It makes trans people feel like they are people, like they matter and their health matters," said Buhrmester, a trans man (meaning that he was assigned female at birth and transitioned to male), in a video on the company's website.

Buhrmester has been a Starbucks employee for 15 years. Photo by Mike Kane/Starbucks Newsroom.

Some may ask why a company should worry about policies that would only affect 0.6% of the population. The better question to ask is why not?

As a case study on the city of San Francisco's 2001 decision to include transition-related care in its insurance coverage shows, trans-inclusive policies have virtually zero effect on the cost of premiums. Researchers also found that trans employees were happier, healthier, and more productive as a result. There's no downside.

"The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, [but also] by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are," said Starbucks' vice president of benefits, Ron Crawford. "I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path. You have to think of it from an equity perspective."

With the federal government's increasingly hostile approach to trans people — including a decision to reinterpret a section of the Affordable Care Act's nondiscrimination clause so as to give insurance companies the ability to categorically exclude trans coverage — it's on states and employers to set an example for the world and make this type of care the standard.

Buhrmester and his wife, Katherine, appear in the Starbucks video. Photo by Mike Kane/Starbucks Newsroom.

When one company takes a stand for doing what's right, others often soon follow. For vulnerable populations like trans people, that's the hope.

Sometimes, companies will follow suit because they see that it's the right thing to do. Other times, they follow the new model as a way of keeping their compensation packages consistent with their competitors. Whatever the case is, this could have a ripple effect, changing the lives of trans people for the better.

Not all trans people will use the services offered by this new insurance (just as not all employees will use coverage for a broken leg or treatment for heart disease), but it's still included in everyone's policies. But what this does, in addition to providing critical care, is send a message that trans people matter to the company as much as any other employee.

Good on you, Starbucks. Thanks a latte!

Watch Tate Buhrmester explain why this move means so much to him in Starbucks' powerful video below.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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