Highlights from 2015

Dec 28, 2015

As we approach 2016, we want to share a few of our favorite links from the year!

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Reflecting back on 2015, I am struck by the growing awareness we’ve seen around issues related to gender. Throughout this year, we read major headlines highlighting the experiences and stories of trans* and Gender-expansive individuals. We saw more conversations about gender neutral pronouns and how Non-binary youth are broadening our understandings of gender by being their authentic selves. As we gear up for 2016, I am hopeful we will see progress in the area of all gender restrooms and legislation that increases the safety and wellbeing of all trans* and gender-expansive youth. – Mere Abrams

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The title of the clip is “Ariana Grande shuts down sexist comments in a radio interview.” Already one-minute into the video and you can’t help but cringe at the blatant sexist and misogynistic comments being hurled at Ariana. But like a boss, Ariana stands her ground and turns a discussion on emojis into a teaching opportunity about gender norms in the U.S. Watch as Ariana stands up to ignorance and tells her hosts, “You need a little brushing up on equality over here!” #UnicornEmoji4All – Adam Chang

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I have two favorite links:

1) Janet Mock’s ‘The Path of Authenticity – Embracing the Other’ on Super Soul TV.

It’s a speech Mock gives to a crowd about her way to her authentic self and how you can get there too. Janet Mock’s story is a rare success and her realness is unparalleled. Without a doubt, she is one of the most famous Transgender people who are out currently. If you’ve had the fortune of meeting her in person you know she believes in everything she says and has so much natural wisdom, you wouldn’t expect it from someone so young.

2) Viola Davis’ Emmy Acceptance speech for her win in Best Actress in a Drama series. This is a historic win for women of color in TV, which is unfortunate because it’s 2015. The pure power that Viola channels in this moment is historic and her quoting of Harriet Tubman brings the level and importance of her speech to new heights. Viola Davis also calls out her sisters, black women actors in television, and thanks them for helping all of them get over the line of inaccessibility, and that is truly magical. – Lexi Adsit

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Few things I read or watched in 2015 stuck with me more than the 3-minute video “I Do Not Know Yet” by a Boston high school student. The filmmaker narrates the film, providing insight into their continuing journey to understand gender:

I don’t know why I feel pressure to choose a gender. I don’t know why I stand between the doors of male and female, wishing there was a better choice or even look at the boxes for gender and feel like the choice is so political for me. I don’t know yet. I do not know yet. And that’s fine with me.

I Do Not Know Yet, was chosen to be part of Opinion Reel, a showcase of short documentary films with a point of view, hosted by the Boston Globe. – Kim Westheimer

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One story from the past year that was particularly heartening for me was the Washington State Girl Scout’s rejection of a large donation because of the anti-transgender strings that came with it. In July, the Washington Council of the Girl Scouts received a donation from a private donor of $100,000. Included was this request: Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.” Committed to the full participation of all girls in the organization, the council did just that. Instead, they started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that within six days had generated almost three times the original amount! In responding to questions about her reasoning for rejecting the initial donation, Megan Ferland, the CEO of Western Washington’s Council stated simply, “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

The stance taken by Ms. Ferland was nothing new. In 2011, a transgender 7-year old in Colorado was initially rejected by her local troop. In the same role in Colorado, she had advocated for her full participation. That experience, along with a number of others throughout the country prompted GSUSA to develop a set of guidelines clarifying the organization’s stance that has allowed girls throughout the country access to the largest girl’s organization in the world. In so doing, they have made a clear commitment that girl scouts is for every girl. – Joel Baum

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One of my favorite links of the year is a very recent one. Système U, the fourth largest general food retailer in France, shared a video on YouTube from a photo shoot they did for a Christmas toy catalog. The company created a catalog in which the boy/girl divide has been dropped in favor of a universe of toys for all children. It’s always a joy to see kids play with the toys they want to play with it! – Justin Clark

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A Place in the Middle is a short film about a gender-expansive student in Hawaiʻi and the teacher who empowers her. Gender Spectrum was honored to be advisers to this project. This film became available for free this year along with a wonderful curriculum. This is a great resource for families, schools and anyone who wants to learn about gender and youth. Since we don’t usually see kids “in the middle” portrayed in popular culture, it is important for our kids to watch films like this so they can see that there are genders beyond the binary of male and female.

A second highlight in 2015 for me was seeing a community come together in support of gender education, which was a welcome and hopeful change from the negative protests which were also in the news this year. – Pam Wool