Trans woman Danica Roem beat her anti-trans opponent by focusing on … roads. Seriously.

“To every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own … this one’s for you,” said Virginia delegate-elect Danica Roem during a fiery victory speech on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Roem is a transgender woman, but her gender identity is secondary to the main issue she campaigned on: fixing Route 28.

“That’s why I got in this race, because I’m fed up with the frickin’ road over in my home town,” she said to laughter and applause during the speech, calling on the state legislature to fix existing problems rather than creating new ones.

Roem’s election makes her the first out transgender person who will be elected and seated in a state legislature. Photo by Danica Roem for Delegate.

Roem used her speech to highlight the importance of focusing on unifying issues like infrastructure, ensuring teachers get fair pay, working to expand access to health care, and finding cost-effective solutions to local problems.

“This is the important stuff,” she told the crowd. “We can’t get lost in discrimination. We can’t get lost in BS. We can’t get lost tearing each other down.”

It’s that view, that it’s the government’s job to address issues of infrastructure and public health, that set her apart from her opponent, incumbent candidate Bob Marshall. Marshall, the self-described “chief homophobe” of Virginia, is perhaps best known for introducing a so-called “bathroom bill” designed to discriminate against trans people. Seeing a politician so obsessed with his anti-LGBTQ views have his seat won out from under him by a trans woman just feels … symbolic.

Oh yeah, did I mention Roem is also a singer in a heavy metal band?

Mailers sent out by her opponent’s campaign before the election warned that “[His] defeat would signal that holding these [anti-LGBTQ] principles is a detriment to being elected.”

Hopefully, Marshall is right about that. The people who represent us in government should represent all of us, and his defeat shows many voters aren’t willing to put up with elected officials who don’t see things that way.

In a recent interview on a right-wing radio show, Marshall showed his disdain for Roem and trans people, generally:

“It is not a civil right to masquerade your fantasies as reality. … I’ve drawn a line. I’m not leaving it, because I don’t make the laws of nature but I think I understand them, at least at this fundamental level. I never flunked biology, so I’m not going to call a man a woman, period.”

If a candidate wants to run on a platform of legislating trans people out of public existence or thinks it’s OK accuse their political opponents of defying the laws of nature, that should be detrimental to their odds of being elected.

We need more candidates like Roem whose political ambitions revolve around how best to help their constituents.

This country belongs to all of us. As Roem said in her victory speech (which is excellent, and you should watch it below) with all the intensity of a seasoned politician:

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify — and yeah, how you rock — that if you have good public policy ideas and you’re well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table because this is your America too.”

Just as it’s not enough for Democrats to simply run on being not-Trump, perhaps this is a sign that it’s not enough for Republicans to bank on voters hating the same groups as them. During the 2016 election, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ran hard on the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill only to come up short; Marshall did the same in his race against Roem.

Maybe, just maybe, empathy is winning out, and maybe people are coming to understand that the purpose of government isn’t to determine who to oppress, but how to help lift us all.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/trans-woman-danica-roem-beat-her-anti-trans-opponent-by-focusing-on-roads-seriously

The wildly simple reason Trump joking about Pence’s anti-LGBTQ views is not OK.

In the Oct. 23 issue of The New Yorker, it was reported that President Donald Trump likes to joke about Vice President Mike Pence’s long history of anti-LGBTQ views.

In Jane Mayer’s exquisite story “The Danger of President Pence,” a source shared that Trump likes to remind Pence who’s in charge and frequently mocks his commitment to religion (Pence is an evangelical Christian). Specifically, he jokes about Pence’s need to limit the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Here’s the excerpt from Mayer’s story (emphasis mine):

“Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. ‘You see?’ Trump asked Pence. ‘You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.’ When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, ‘Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!’

There’s nothing wrong with Pence being a man of faith. But when he hides behind it and uses it as justification for a series of policies and positions that threaten the livelihoods of many, many Americans, that’s dangerous. Furthermore, joking about someone hanging gay people wouldn’t be funny at a bus stop or in a locker room. To know Trump thought it would be appropriate to say in a meeting is the very definition of deplorable.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

To Trump, it seems that Pence’s backward, dangerous views on women’s health and LGBTQ people are not backward and dangerous, they’re punchlines.

But we are not punchlines.

We are human beings with dreams, goals, and families like everyone else. Yet, among two of the most powerful men in the country, one thinks gay couples cause “societal collapse” and the other apparently thinks that’s funny.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

We’re not laughing.

We’re not here for your amusement. We’re not to be used as some sort of perverse bargaining chip.

Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

People around the world, and here at home, are dying because of their gender or sexuality.

Did President Trump laugh when parents in Chechnya were told to murder their gay children before the government did? Did he slap the table and get happy tears in his eyes when he learned at least 23 transgender people have been murdered in 2017?

Did Vice President Pence hear the news of seven people in Egypt being arrested and jailed for raising a pride flag at a concert and think, “Serves them right”?

People gather at a vigil for slain transgender woman Islan Nettles in New York in 2013. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

When the administration turns its back on transgender kids and makes it harder for victims of sexual assault to come forward, that’s not humorous. That’s not holy. It’s cruel and it’s unforgivable.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

No, we’re not laughing. We are mobilizing.

We are speaking out. We are fighting for the equal rights and considerations we deserve.

Any person or party who views our health, our bodies, our lives as something to laugh about or something to be “prayed away” or changed is not a person or party who deserves our support.

We’ll see who’s laughing next November.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-wildly-simple-reason-trump-joking-about-pences-anti-lgbtq-views-is-not-ok

Nick Offerman’s thoughts on men crying are the perfect antidote to toxic masculinity.

Actor, author, and accomplished woodworker Nick Offerman had the best response to a question about emotions in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.

With his classically masculine roles (most notably Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”), handy skills, outdoorsmanship, and remarkable facial hair, many see Offerman as the very picture of classic manliness.

With that in mind, writer Sean Evans asked Offerman about the last time he cried.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival.  

Here’s Offerman’s applause-worthy response in full (emphasis added):

“I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It’s not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy. To answer your question, I recently saw Alicia Keys perform live. I’d never seen her before and the sheer golden, heavenly talent issuing from her and her singing instrument had both my wife and me in tears. What a gorgeous gift she has. Her voice is so great. And I had no shame [about crying.] If you live your life openly with your emotions, that’s a more manly stance than burying them.

BOOM! That’s the kind of thinking we need to dismantle toxic masculinity.

And apparently, the internet agrees. The quote was shared by Twitter user @TylerHuckabee and has already been retweeted more than 31,000 times in two days.

Offerman’s words are vital, especially for men and boys who are socialized  to  believe “boys don’t cry.”

Though it may seem like a different world, gender roles and expectations have changed very little in the past 30 years, and a bias against men crying — especially in public — persists.

“That crying is a sign of weakness and a reason for shame is a lesson most males learn by the time they reach adolescence,” wrote Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., for Psychology Today. “Whether by ‘swallowing tears’ or actively avoiding situations that might lead to crying, males actively suppress their emotions or express them in other ways that seem more suitable for their gender roles.”

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Actively suppressing tears can lead to other physical and emotional concerns. Stifling this natural response can temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure or heart rate since the body’s fight or flight response has to work overtime to figure out what’s happening.

Not to mention, crying is almost exclusively a human trait, and it’s one of our body’s built-in mechanisms for emotional release. It also reveals our capacity to have empathy for others. When we see a sad movie, learn good news, or as in Offerman’s case, witness a remarkable talent, our bodies react with emotional, empathetic tears. That’s not weakness (or “fake”) — that’s a physiological marvel.

So take it from Offerman, a multi-faceted, talented, emotional man: Let it allllllll out.

No matter your gender, having emotions or feelings so strong you’re moved to tears is nothing to be ashamed of. Offerman is right. We should never be afraid to have a good cry when the mood strikes — no matter what Ron Swanson says.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nick-offermans-thoughts-on-men-crying-are-the-perfect-antidote-to-toxic-masculinity

This anti-bullying PSA acts out online comments in real life. It’s an uncomfortable watch.

Bullying is just as wrong when it happens online as it is in person. So why does one seem to be so much more acceptable than the other?

A new anti-bullying campaign and PSA called “In Real Life,” spearheaded by Monica Lewinsky, takes actual insults people have said online and brings them into the physical world. While actors portray the bullies and their victims in the video, the reactions of unsuspecting onlookers are genuine.

A collection of actual insults people posted online that were acted out in person as part of the In Real Life PSA. Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

The PSA opens with a pleasant scene that quickly turns jarring. Two men are sitting together in a coffee shop, when a stranger walks up to their table. “Gay people are sick, and you should just kill yourselves!” he tells them.

This kind of interaction is not something you see that often in the real world (though it does happen). On the internet, however, that type of comment from a stranger isn’t just normal, it’s actually kind of tame.

Later in the video, a woman gets screamed at for being a “fat bitch” and a Muslim woman gets called a “terrorist.” In all of the scenarios, bystanders — who were not involved in the social experiment — look on with horror.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

A number of studies show why people who wouldn’t bully someone to their face feel emboldened to do it online.

Anonymity, the ability to say or do whatever you want with little or no consequence for your actions, plays a role, but it’s far from the only reason people engage in cyberbullying. The performative nature of online harassment also encourages others to pile on the target, whether they have a stake in the conversation or not. Mob mentality dictates that the more people go in on the target, the less any single person might feel responsible for negative outcomes. More than anything else, though, the barrier of the internet between bully and victim creates an empathy gap.

On the internet, regular people — your neighbors, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, and even family members — are all susceptible to becoming bullies, making it that much more important to think critically about the effects of our actions and behaviors online.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

Online harassment is so much more than being “just the way the internet is.”

“One thing people don’t necessarily realize about being threatened or dog-piled online is how much it can undermine your real-world sense of safety,” author Sady Doyle explains in a Twitter direct message. Doyle has experienced escalating bullying and harassment online for years, especially during the 2016 election season, in response to her writing on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Threats of physical violence and stalking across online platforms became normal to Doyle. Once an influential Twitter user took aim at her, to win that account’s approval, their followers would engage in a game of one-upmanship harassment. Doyle began to worry more and more about how it would end. Scheduled book readings brought on a new sort of anxiety, as she feared that any of her online tormentors would be able to easily confront her in person. Thankfully, it never happened.

“I think that lost sense of safety is really what the impact is,” she writes. “There’s mental health stuff, obviously — anyone with a tendency to depression, which I have, will internalize certain mean comments and play them back in a low moment — but it’s mostly the realization that there are people out there that want to hurt you, or your loved ones, and that you can’t necessarily recognize those people on sight, that is so damaging.”

People shouldn’t have to live in fear, and that’s why campaigns like “In Real Life” are so important.

“It’s a stark and shocking mirror to people to rethink how we behave online versus the ways that we would behave in person,” Lewinsky told People magazine about the project.

Saying that while “there are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of insults that have been written about her online and in print, personal confrontations were much, much less common. “When you are with someone, when you see someone face to face, you are reminded of their humanity.”

Lewinsky’s powerful 2015 TED Talk on “The Price of Shame” helped establish her as a major voice in anti-bullying activism. Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images.

Unlike Doyle, you probably don’t have to worry about online harassers showing up at scheduled appearances, and unlike Lewinsky, you probably aren’t an internationally known political lightning rod of the late ’90s. Even so, the lessons contained in this video — not to say things online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, to remember that real people are on the receiving end of every online comment, and more — are applicable to all of us. Online bullying isn’t the exact same thing as the physical playground-style bullying we’ve heard about all of our lives, but its effects on the target’s sense of well-being is every bit as real.

Whether you’ve been the bully, the bullied, or just a bystander, there are lessons we can learn from this powerful PSA, which you can watch below.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-anti-bullying-psa-acts-out-online-comments-in-real-life-its-an-uncomfortable-watch